What do I mean by learning on the move? There can be several different interpretations. For clarity, the focus of this article is learning about a topic while either physically or mentally being occupied by a different topic. It’s multi-tasking, where appropriate.
Learning on the move is productive
- I’m doing my food shopping at a supermarket or online – this will take me ~30 minutes to complete
- 100% of my brain power need not be entirely consumed by this activity
- I can therefore multi-task by doing something else simultaneously, so I dedicate part of my attention to a different activity – learning about something
- I listen to an audiobook or a podcast episode about the latest opportunities in the stock market
The last bullet point above is key, since I’ve identified the two mediums I personally use to “learn on the move” daily: audio books and podcasts. We’ll explore more shortly.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.Benjamin Franklin
Learning on the move can be an immensely productive activity. It offers the capability to fulfil your time (where reasonable) with material that helps build your knowledge and expertise in any given topic.
The difference between learning and studying
Let’s not confuse “learning” with “studying” – they are two separate processes that we can partake in.
Typically, studying follows a linear and rigid set of activities with conscious actions. This could be reading and taking notes from an educational book, watching a video of a section for an online course, or completing test exams.
On the other hand, learning offers the chance to develop both consciously and subconsciously. The subconscious aspect is the interesting part, because you can acquire new knowledge and expertise without feeling like you are putting in the effort to do so. Equally, you can apply that knowledge by actually “doing”, and when you “do”, you learn.
For many of us (me included), studying can often become burdensome fairly quickly, usually due to fatigue. The aim of studying is to learn something new, but it’s often not the best method. If there is an alternative to learning the topic such as being taught or involved, then it can be far more effective and less draining.
Learn without studying
You can sign up to an online project management course and study the materials alone for 2 weeks (books, videos etc.). However, if you don’t have the ability to seriously concentrate during that study time, or the materials are reasonably complex, there is a fair chance you will learn very little. Bring creativity to your learning and it will be a far more productive exercise.
You can study and learn very little, but you can learn a lot without studying. If I’m having a conversation with an expert financial advisor about mortgages, I can learn a lot without needing to ever study the topic. Similarly, while cooking a meal, if I’m listening to a podcast episode about the “tricks to get the best mortgage rates”, I also learn a lot.
Listening to audiobooks
Audiobooks have been big business for a long while – there’s certainly nothing new about them. What’s the key difference between listening to an audiobook vs. reading the equivalent on paper? With a traditional book, you make time and fully invest your energy into reading it. An audiobook on the other hand is a digital audio file that enables you to use your hands, eyes and a small portion of your brain power to focus on something else at the same time.
How to learn on the move with an audiobook
Personally, I thoroughly enjoy listening to audiobooks on the move, whether they be fictional thrillers or more appropriately, educational.
The easiest approach to learning on the move with an educational audiobook, is to put one on instead of listening to the radio or music (at a time when you would normally do that). I don’t mean to replace your music library entirely with audiobooks. Rather, you can find a balance.
Below is a list of practical situations where audiobooks can be utilised to learn on the move:
- Driving a car
- Going for a walk or run
- Working out in a gym
- Cooking a meal
- Cleaning the house
- Before going to sleep
How to start with audiobooks
There are many different audiobook services available on multiple platforms – mobile and desktop.
Below are the audiobook providers I recommend for listening and learning on the move, in order of preference.
- Audible – Premium Plus subscription @ $14.95 per month, includes 30-day free trial and 1 free credit (audiobook) per month
- Google Play Books – no membership plan, and instead you purchase audiobooks individually for a set price
- Scribd – unlimited access to their entire library of audiobooks for a monthly subscription @ $8.99 per month, includes 30-day free trial
- Kobo – subscription @ $9.99 per month, includes 30-day free trial and 1 free credit (audiobook) per month
- Audiobooks.com – subscription @ 14.95 per month, includes 30-day free trial and 1 free credit (audiobook) per month
Audible is my preferred provider because of the huge choice of books available, as well as the easiness of downloading and listening to them via the mobile app. Also, Audible is a subsidiary of Amazon, so they have the huge security blanket, and a lot has been invested into further establishing its platform.
In terms of the educational audiobooks to listen to, well, that’s your choice depending on the subjects you want to develop your knowledge in.
The best approach to begin though, is to dive into a category that you interests you, have a browse through some of the popular books or new releases, and read a subset of the reviews.
Listening to podcasts
Podcasts have become hugely popular in recent years, especially in markets such as entrepreneurship, general talk shows and news. I wouldn’t be mentioning of podcasts if there wasn’t also a wealth of them available in the educational space. There are loads, all targeting different niches (and even micro niches), running at various frequencies (weekly, daily, etc.).
Like audiobooks, podcasts are also digital audio files, pre-recorded. However, podcasts have a more casual feel on the ears; they are usually not strictly scripted. Instead they’re hosted by a person or group who discuss a topic, either alone or with others. This could be in the form of advice, an interview, a news update, or really anything for that matter.
The great thing about podcasts is that they’re FREE to listen to! At least I’ve not come across any you have to pay for… If the person/business seeks any financial gain from their podcast, then this is usually achieved through sponsored advertising, affiliates, or building a targeted audience to then sell relevant products or services to.
How to learn on the move with a podcast
Generally speaking, you would listen to podcasts just as you would with audiobooks. So, if you’re on a train, plane or doing your morning run, it’s the perfect time to press play on a podcast episode.
Arguably, learning on the move via a podcast feels more interactive and less formal versus an audiobook. The “talk show” nature of a podcast brings a more dynamic edge to it, like you are engaged in the conversation.
How to start with podcasts
Just as there are with audiobooks, there are plenty of platforms available to listen to podcasts on. In fact, some audiobook services make available podcasts to download in addition to their library of published books.
Although, I find that for the larger libraries of podcasts that include more choice of educational content, it’s more beneficial to use other platforms. All of the other platforms I’m referring to are free to use, and they do not appear to be as selective with what podcasts are hosted and not hosted.
I recommend listening to podcasts on the following platforms for learning on the move (again, in order of preference):
- Spotify – free, with a premium (ad-free) option @ $9.99 per month
- Google Podcasts – free, no membership plans
- Apple Podcasts – free, no membership plans
- Overcast – free, no membership plans
- Castbox – free, no membership plans
Like audiobooks, what podcasts you wish to listen to and learn from, simply depends on your interests. You will find plenty that meet your criteria.
To get going with podcasts, download one of the apps listed above on to your mobile phone or desktop. Then, start browsing: locate the categories and subcategories that intrigue you the most, and navigate through any podcasts that catch the eye.
Look for podcasts that initially appear to offer a chance to learn and expand your knowledge. In parallel sift through the usual social proof (i.e. the reviews and ratings). Listen to them for a short while and if the conversation is rewarding, then long may it continue! Otherwise, don’t forget podcasts are free to listen to, so you can quickly move on to the next without worrying about any costs.