Life hacks

5 Ways to Learn More Every Day

May 9, 2016

No matter how busy you may be

As the CEO of a Silicon Valley start-up and the parent—and coach and cheerleader and chauffeur—of three small kids, I struggle to carve out time for learning new things. A bit ironic since the company I founded (Curious.com) is dedicated to helping busy people learn all kinds of things, from JavaScript to Japanese to jump roping.

But starting Curious has taught me how to build a daily learning regimen. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve picked up that can help you create your own learning routine.

1. Make your learning bucket list
We all need a learning bucket list. If you don’t know your list, start by figuring out what skills or subjects you wish you’d learned in school. Local bookstores and public libraries are also fantastic resources for discovering curiosities. I try to keep between five and eight items on my list at all times. Some are big, like classes I wish I’d taken in college or a language/instrument I want to master. But most are small, like trying something for the first time or researching a word or concept I don’t understand. Regardless of what you want to learn, making a list can help you tackle more of those topics.

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2. Reorganize your apps
Phones and tablets are an awesome resource for filling your free time with learning…or with time-wasting activities. Delete mindless games and shopping apps, and move apps like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail and Facebook off of your home screen so you have to work to find them. When you catch yourself scrolling to them, make a conscious effort to open a learning app instead—and you can put those on your home screen so they’re easier to access.

3. Learn in chunks of time
You’ll need easy ways to learn your bucket list in bite-sized chunks. I try carving out chunks of five, 15 or 30 minutes of my day to learn. If it’s a foreign language, I’ll need 30 minutes and an app like Duolingo. I need at least 15 minutes for academic lessons I can watch on iTunes U, TED or Curious. For music, I keep a list of songs I’m working on and can make progress even in five minutes.

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4. Read nonfiction electronically
I try to keep a virtual library of books I’m reading—primarily nonfiction and historical fiction. I read everything through the Kindle app (phone or tablet). This way I can pick up any device and start reading where I left off. Even better, I can juggle lots of books at the same time. My nightstand used to be piled high with barely read books. Now I can concurrently work my way through a 900-page autobiography, a memoir about building an elephant refuge in Africa, a business book and a self-help book.

Read more: The Reading Habits of Ultra-Successful People

5. Create learning triggers
Keep a sketchbook on your desk so every time you see it, you’re prompted to spend five minutes practicing your drawing skills. Strategically place Spanish flash cards in your backpack. I keep a guitar on a stand in my office. Every time I go to check my email, I pick it up and play a few bars of a song I’m working on.

Justin Kitch is the CEO of Curious.com.