How to Automate Your Education

I try to use systems in all areas of my life. Systems could also be called habits, and they automate routine tasks that lead to important outcomes. Systems maximize consistency and minimize time and energy. Systems allow us to focus more on the outcome than the routine tasks that get us there. black book in row isolated

I use systems to automate my ongoing education.  This makes sure I continually educate myself while not being overwhelmed by the tsunami of information readily available today.

Formal education should just be the beginning, and education should not be limited to our profession. There is much to learn about health and fitness, relationships, travel, sports, and anything else applicable to your life.

My education systems revolve around podcasts, content aggregators, audio books, eBooks, and magazines.

Podcasts. Podcasting is a form of audio broadcasting on the Internet. I use the Downcast app to automate my podcast system. I regularly listen to 25-30 podcasts, and some of my favorites are Entrepreneur on Fire, Entreleadership, and This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt.

I pipe podcasts into my ear through my Bose bluetooth ear piece whenever possible, such as while driving, riding my bike, or doing mindless tasks around the house or in the yard. Podcasts are my favorite way to consume content, and I’ll write a future post dedicated to how I use podcasts.

Content Aggregators. Flipboard is my favorite aggregator. It is an app that aggregates into magazine format all of the web content you want to follow. You can connect to blogs like an RSS reader, but you can also connect all of your social media feeds. I connect to some of my favorite blogs to make sure I don’t miss anything. However, I find that most of the content I want to follow gets tweeted or otherwise posted via social media.

Almost every night I spend about 30 minutes flipping through hundreds of items. I’ll read content that catches my attention, and I use Buffer’s email feature to post my favorites to my social media feeds.

Audio books. I use the app to consume at least 2 books per month. I subscribe for about $22/month, which gives me 2 credits. Most books are 1 credit, so the subscription saves a lot of money given that most books are $15-30 each. As with podcasts, I use my ear piece to pipe books into my ear whenever possible.

eBooks. I use the Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad to read books. I prefer to consume books by audio because I can do other things at the same time. However, for some books I want to take more time to read, ponder, and take notes. In some cases, books I want to consume are not available in audio format.

Magazines. I get most of my periodical-type content through Flipboard, but I regularly read some of my favorite business magazines using the iPad Newsstand. These include, in order of priority, Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Success, and Fortune. I’ll usually catch up on magazines in the evenings if I have extra time after getting through Flipboard or on the weekend if I have extra time to read.

Educating myself is a system built into my daily routine. I spend my time thinking about how to apply the content to my life rather than how I am going to learn.

What systems do you use to automate your education?