When was the last time you set aside some time to study? Life is demanding: often, we move from one demand to our next with no space in between. This rhythm leaves little time to think through what we are facing or to consider deepening our knowledge. Nevertheless, our business and environment constantly change, so we must leave room to think about what is affecting us and what we can learn as a result.
This study time will look unique for each person, but it consists of setting aside a designated time and space where you can consume articles and books that interest you, write and analyze how you are proceeding and how new ideas apply to you, and speak and learn from others. It might also occur in the form of a course that applies to your current situation. It all depends on what you want to do and what you want your result to be.
Warren Buffet famously spends his time reading and studying. I always refer to his practices because as the CEO of a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars, he prioritizes his study time. It is one of his secrets, and he spends a significant amount of time reading and educating himself so that when the right opportunity comes along, he is ready to take it.
One of the best ways to learn and study is by communing with the greatest minds that humanity has produced through their books. So much information exists that we could read all day and never finish. Carefully selecting your sources and taking some time every day to actively study by reading will significantly expand your purview and your critical thinking.
I would recommend that you challenge yourself and engage with content that does not come naturally to you. Read about politics, history, and science. Read about physics and evaluate how you can apply some of those concepts to your life and work.
Analyzing What You Read
Of course, reading is an excellent way of learning, but to take it to a deeper level, you can also analyze what you read and how it can apply to your interests. One of the ways to do this, is to take notes as you read and later review them. I like to go over my notes a few weeks or months after reading the book to see what I have absorbed and what other important information I may take in. This review is also a good practice to see how I have adapted my learnings and applied them to my daily life.
I read Principles by Ray Dalio in 2017, and as I read, I took copious notes and even wrote two blog entries about my main takeaways (Ray Dalio on His Powerful Principles Part 1 and Part 2). Then, recently, I decided to review my summary again. It took about twenty to thirty minutes a day for about five days to reread them. As I advanced, I noticed I had already absorbed many of the ideas I had initially seen as impactful and new. I also discovered many points I had forgotten about that I now want to implement.
It is impossible to grasp everything at once, so if there is a particular book that is very impactful to you, it might be worthwhile to read it and go over your notes again.
Journaling is another tool you can use. It is a great practice to process what is happening in your life by writing about it to understand it better. I have had some of my best insights while journaling. It is also helpful as a way to organize your thoughts.
Writing allows you to sketch out your thoughts and analyze how you can take better actions. It will help you retain information better because it forces you to make things explicit. As part of your writing, you might want to go over any important decisions you are making. Our life follows the course of the decisions we have made. Sketch out those decisions, look at the components, and write them all out before taking the next steps.
Sometimes the best way to stay current is through classes. Courses are designed to make you think and expand your horizons in a systematic way. Today, the options are endless. You could dedicate part of the time you set aside to study and to improve through a class. Taking a course does not have to be overwhelming – you only need to schedule a little bit of time every day, and you will complete your lessons in no time.
As professionals, it is critical to start making the shift that Warren Buffett has made to spend more time thinking through our actions and not just acting on instinct. It is difficult to change as the world demands a constant effort, but you will not regret it if you take that time for yourself.