Reflecting on my learning cycles also helped me to realise my patterns when it comes to medium and content consumed. There is no right or wrong. I’m just a third-party observer of how my learning cycle is. So I can improve on what I like and dislike.
Stage 1: Books (Good)
This stage lasts the longest. It is usually for a good ~4 months of this book reading routine. That means reading every day and reading tons of books in that quarter. I love reading and I have a long list of books to read. The list grows faster than I can consume books.
For books, my go to app is Libby. I’m all about ebooks and audiobooks. Since I used to travel all the time and living around the world, I only have physical books (heavy) for the very niche industry where they do not have audiobooks nor ebooks (light). Recently, I’m thinking about buying the physical books because I make notes all the time. It’s more fun to add notes to the physical books and add post-its.
Physical books on my transit (planes, train) or tanning by the pool. Audiobooks on my run or cab. Ebook is the last resort.
Stage 2: Podcasts (Good)
The books phase does not last forever. The next stage is to move towards podcasts. Books are too exciting that it can be time consuming sometimes. So the next stage is to move towards podcasts. They’re shorter and great for a workout session.
I prefer books because I think old books (Lindy effect) have knowledge that lasts a longer time than podcast. Podcasts are focused more on the current “now” information. They might be fun to know, but the real time-value of the information might not be apparent.
Podcasts on my run and after work transit.
Stage 3: Online Articles/Videos (Neutral)
Knowledge accrual is a phase. In the confusion stage or when my brain is too saturated with new knowledge, I spend ~1.5 months really into online articles and videos.
It’s a mix of learning new things, exposing to new topics AND exposing to bullshit content. It usually goes downhill. Starting with documentaries on YouTube and very interesting articles online. Towards the end of this period, I’m watching entertainment channels, reading about gossip and learning about random celebrities that I don’t care about. (Vox, PBS Eons, Ramsey, PBS Space, Veritasium, The Psych Show)
To be honest, I don’t hate this phase so much. It’s neutral because it exposes me to new topics and things that I don’t expose myself to. It expands me knowledge and gives me new perspective to things. It also allows for random ideas to form as I cross-pollinate concepts. It feels like a waste of time sometimes, but hey, you can’t be productive 24/7/365!
For instance, I recently learnt that there are ladies out there whose goal is to marry into high society. And there are YouTube videos and online articles teaching them to do that. When I tell my friends this, they laugh at how naive I am.
Online articles and videos during meal times, before bed and weekend afternoons.
Stage 4: Dumb Sites (Bad)
I told you we go downhill from here.
Because I end stage 3 with entertainment, gossip and random people, I go down the rabbit hole. This could be rubbish YouTube channels, gossip sites or rubbish entertainment “news”. I hate myself for spending time on it.
On average, this stage lasts about 2-3 weeks before I get bored. It usually starts with learning about something new and diving deep into it. Thankfully it bores me quite quickly. It’s like going on a quest — go there (read the gossip sites), earn your medals (learn something) and leave (exit).
I usually learn quite a bit here. For example, sometimes I think I have low empathy for the vast majority of population that I don’t care too much about. Which makes sense, if you think about it. If I only have 100 units of energy, I’m going to place 100 units of energy on things I care about instead of distributing it across 100 items, of which 99% are what don’t matter.
So during this stage, it allows me to listen to people’s opinions of issues. E.g. Quora, Reddit comments, YouTube videos, forums. 90% of the time, I roll my eyes. 5% of the time, I gain a new perspective. 5% of the time, I learn something new (e.g. empathy).
Sometimes, I feel like an alien from Mars, trying to fit into this Earthling society. But in reality, I’m just focused on what matters. People don’t always like that, because humans are social people and we have to care about those, even when they don’t matter.
Dumb sites during meal times, before bed and weekend afternoons.
Thankfully, I dislike this stage so much (although it adds value in some way!). So it lasts for a few weeks and I’m back to Stage 1.
So here I am, ending the cycle and back at Stage 1 this week. Finished a book in 3 days and on to another book. Downloaded a few more books and I can’t wait to dive into them!