A renowned Russian writer and playwright once stated that “Wisdom… comes not from age, but from education and learning.” That’s not a very uncommon piece of wisdom, but if you know Anton Chekhov by his brilliant short stories or plays, you should take his word for it. As working professionals, we’re all subject to environments that require us to multiply our skill set. This means that we have to keep increasing our existing knowledge alongside our everyday work routines. In 1885, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus coined an interesting phrase to explain this: the learning curve.
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A learning curve is basically how much you have learned with experience. By far, most of us are doing this every day as we work. So, why would you have to pay attention to this? Your ability to learn as you work can help determine your success and your potential for growth. It would be prudent to make sure we keep strengthening our learning process through our experiences at our workplaces. Here’s a list of ways though which you can improve your learning curve alongside your work process.
Analyse your work methods
Before you try to make any radical changes, begin by analysing the way you work. This would mean considering the time you take, the quality you produce, the resources you pool in, and suchlike. By weighing such factors, we can determine the quality of our work, identify our strengths and weaknesses, and test our limits.
Take time to learn
It is vital that we take the ample amount of time to learn something thoroughly. Don’t constrain this suggestion to your average training period, but continue to give yourself the time to learn throughout your career. Ask the right questions and keep an open mind. Always take full advantage of the resources available to teach you what you need to learn.
Do something else
It can be exhausting to carry out the same task and work towards improving it. Apart from your office routines, actively learn something else. Pick up an instrument, learn to paint, sew, or cook. All in all, exercise your learning capabilities in other fields as well. It can be quite a handful if stress or monotony sets into your work routine. This is one way you can stay ahead of any mental road blocks.
Learn one new thing everyday
This could be quite refreshing. Don’t restrict yourself to the work process. Watch a TED talk, read the news, listen to some podcasts, or follow a blog. These trivial activities will help you practise your learning abilities and find newer and more creative ways to work with.
As much as you need to learn, you also need to rest. There are chances of getting overworked that can demotivate you to extents. Be it anything between a ten minute coffee break to a two month vacation to the Andaman Islands, make sure you take the rest you need to give yourself. You can always start fresh with a clearer mind.
It always helps to take down notes when you’re learning something new. You can always go back to them when you need to cross check something. Although, with smart devices at our disposal, we can always make voice notes or type out what we need to and have all-round access to it.
Getting an assessment of your work can be tough, but it is important to know where you stand and what you need to improve. Feedback can help you find new perspective by looking at yourself based on someone else’s opinion.
Aside from being a helpful person, try testing your knowledge by helping someone else. Perhaps you could volunteer to help train a new batch of employees in your company, or just stick around to help someone who needs some assistance. This way you can relearn what you know.
Ben Dunlap, President of Wofford College in South Carolina, USA, gave an insightful TED talk. He spoke about his experiences with three prominent Hungarian people and how they taught him about “passionate living and life-long learning.” This is something you should consider strongly no matter where you go. It is one thing to be educated and another to be resourceful with all that knowledge and education. Towards the end if his TED talk, Ben, in quoting Gandhi, said, “Live each day as if it were your last. Learn as if you’ll live forever.” There’s some positive reinforcement for you to try improving your learning curve.