I can remember the time when I finally graduated from University and I told myself,
That’s it. You’re done with education now, no more learning, no more school, and no more exams. All of that is behind you.
How naïve I was to think like that.
Fast forward 10 years later and I realised how I’ve only scratched the surface with my education. I feel like I’ll never reach my learning goals. I’m constantly learning new skills, finding new interests and hobbies to fill up my time.
However, I had not always thought this way. Had I not made the switch to choose education over entertainment, I would’ve still been that same kid who graduated from University thinking he knew it all.
So what changed? How did I make the switch and more importantly how can you choose education over entertainment?
Don’t worry, I plan to answer all the questions in this article.
You must value learning above everything else. This will lead you to all of the right choices.
Let’s start with the why first.
There are countless benefits to choosing education over entertainment. here are just a handful of them:
- New opportunities
- New experiences
- Healthier lifestyle
- Better confidence in yourself
- More money
The list is endless. What was it that made me make the switch? It was something more, something bigger. Lifelong learning gave meaning to my life.
Before the mental switch, I realised I was wasting my time. What was I wasting it on? Finding out which NBA superstar wanted out of their current team, what absurd adventure Peter was going to go on in Family Guy and figuring out how to get Solid Snake to destroy all the machines in the Metal Gear Solid (I did love that game!).
When I had decided to prioritise learning over entertainment, I experienced all of the benefits that I listed earlier. It was a hard and long journey, but it was worth it. I grew as a person, my mentality changed, my friends changed, and even my environment changed (I’m currently writing this article in a different country from where I was brought up). New opportunities were being presented to me that had not been available before. Life had become exciting again and I realised that was all because I had made a conscious decision to choose education over entertainment.
Let me get this straight, there’s nothing wrong with spending your time watching films, playing computer games or supporting your local team. It’s just that all of these forms of entertainment shouldn’t take over your lives, there’s so much out there to experience in life. Wouldn’t you want to experience something new for yourself?
The different forms of entertainment
Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning.
What do I mean when I say entertainment? If the medium that you’re consuming isn’t teaching you something new or providing you with information that could benefit your life, then all it’s doing is taking up your time and mindlessly numbing your brain.
Comedy shows, movies, computer games. They all fall under entertainment, but it isn’t so black and white. I’ve learned so much about the world watching movies, my hand to eye co-ordination have excelled playing computer games and I’ve picked up new ways of thinking watching a few comedy shows.
What separates the two is when you mindlessly find yourself consuming entertainment for entertainment sake. I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a YouTube wormhole, where you start with one video and 30 minutes later you realise you’ve watched a series of videos that have no relevance to what you were originally watching. I know I’ve done this many times.
Or you tell yourself that you’ll be watching one episode on Netflix and 3 hours later you’ve finished the entire season in one sitting and you don’t know where the time went. That autoplay feature is so dangerous!
Deliberately spending your time to wind down and watch an entertaining show is fine, everyone needs to relax a little, but when you consume too much and you have no control over it, that’s where there is an issue with how you spend your time.
How to set up your day for education
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Choosing education over entertainment is living a deliberate life. You’re choosing to spend your time the way you want to and not because someone or something forces you to. This means planning, taking control of your life and removing certain distractions.
Below are a few examples where you can make significant changes to create an environment of constant learning.
We live in a world of distractions, we’re bombarded with so much information that we don’t know what to do with it. Every company is fighting for our attention and once they get it, they use manipulative techniques for you to stay.
Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and every other social media platform is constantly fighting for your attention. Right now they’re winning. Research states that we’re spending on average 142 minutes per day on social media. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your different feeds, finding out how your friends are spending their summer vacation, how about using that time wisely and choosing to learn something new instead?
I know it can be hard to stay away from social media, it’s just too tempting to open the app and see the latest hot news. That’s why you need to make it difficult to access your social media apps. The more steps there are to accessing your apps, the less inclined you are to opening them.
For example, removing your social media apps off your phone and only accessing them through the desktop prevents you from accessing social media so easily. That way, you won’t find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone, wasting your precious time. Or you can use certain apps to lock you out of social media apps at specific times, that way you’re forced out until you enter a password or until it’s a specific time. FocusMe is a great app for that and I use it to keep me out of YouTube on my phone.
Or you can be extreme like me and remove social media altogether from your life.
Whenever people find out that I have no social media to my name, they gasp as if I’m diagnosed with a terminal illness. I decided to quit social media entirely for over 5 years now and it’s been the best decision of my life. Not only has it helped with my well-being, but it has freed up so much of my time that I can use it for more important things.
How are you going to deal with your relationship with social media? Remove it entirely or get it under control? Whatever you decide, you need to act on it quickly as it’s eating up a big portion of your time.
Recommended Reading: The One App to Help You Focus
Planned learning times
Have you gone through the day not knowing where the time went? Or do you find that you constantly tell people that you don’t have time for this or that? Taking control of your calendar is an important step to taking control of your time. What do we want to do with our time? Learning of course.
One technique that I’ve incorporated into my calendar is to plan my learning times ahead of schedule. I generally like to keep it to the same time of the day so that I don’t forget. I like to block off 30-60 minutes a day to learning something new. It could be from learning how to draw to learning a new instrument. Whatever it is, I know that I’ll be spending time every day to educating myself.
What time of the day isn’t so important, I’ve experimented with late in the evening to early in the morning. What is important is that you remain consistent. After much experimenting, I found that learning first thing in the morning works for me as I have time to myself and I generally don’t have anything going on. When I used to plan my learning times in the evening, I would find that unplanned events would pop up and I’d have to skip my learning time.
Recommended reading: How to Be Consistent
Is there time in the day for you to spend learning something new? Can you keep it up consistently? Can you protect that time? Have a look at your schedule and experiment with blocking time off for yourself to learn.
Recommended reading: How to Take Control of Your Time
Do not disturb mode
Whilst you’re learning it’s important to rid yourself from any distractions. That could mean shutting yourself in a room away from friends and family, but don’t forget to leave your phone whilst you’re at it!
Phones can be a major distraction, they’re constantly going off notifying you of new messages, social media updates, and weather reports. If you’ve removed social media apps from your phone already, that’s great, but you need to make sure you stop any other notifications popping off on your phone.
Whilst I’m learning I like to keep the Do Not Disturb mode on, that way my phone is dead silent and it’s not fighting for my attention. Or better yet, leave your phone in another room and forget that it’s even there. Either way, your phone is a distraction and it shouldn’t take you away from your learning time.
Recommended reading: Take Back Your Life with One Phone Setting
Reading has been a game-changer for me. Ever since I decided to choose education over entertainment, I would fill my time reading books instead. From autobiographies to financial intelligence, reading books is a sure way to learning something new.
You may not call yourself a reader, I’m not expecting you to finish a book a week. When I started reading, I would read 10 pages a day and put the book down. Now, similar to my learning time I like to block off reading time during the day. Whatever method you’d like to incorporate into your life, figure out a way so that you’re constantly reading new material.
With less social media and phone distractions in your life, there should be time for you to read a few pages throughout the day.
Incorporating a growth mindset
Deciding to shift into a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset is going to be one of the most important decisions in your life.
What is a growth mindset? It’s the mentality to not walk away from any challenges and to see any failures as learning opportunities. It’s the mindset to seek education first, as opposed to being entertained. If you can shift your mindset to constantly learning, it’ll lead you down the path to a successful life.
Incorporating a growth mindset is down to lifestyle changes. If you’ve applied all of the advice that I’ve listed above you’re on the right track, even reading this far is a great feat in itself. Just remember that it’s not an overnight thing, nor will it change instantly.
These things take time, but with a little persistence and consistency. You’ll be a learning machine in no time.
Recommended reading: 7 Free Apps to Develop a Growth Mindset
Live a deliberate life
Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
The decision is yours. Do you want to spend the remaining years of your life consuming different forms of entertainment, or do you want to live a deliberate life full of learning and new experiences?
I’m not telling you to make a drastic change in your life, I’m not expecting you to drop everything and spend hours in the library. Subtle lifestyle changes are all I’m suggesting. As all of these small little changes will eventually have a great effect on your life.
You can still watch movies, play computer games and hang out with your friends, just don’t let that be the main priority. Stay curious, learn new things and gain new experience, in the end, it’ll help you live a rich and full life. Or in my case, a life full of meaning.