Learning should be a lifetime thing.
Personally, the thought of stopping my learning is horrifying. Learning has always been enjoyable for me. Or perhaps, I understand that there is a difference between learning and studying.
Studying has always felt constrictive, like a ruler that measures you against the average, and quantifying your success based on numbers. Learning, on the other hand, is freedom. With each passing idea becoming a feather in your cap, and eventually becoming your wings.
Learning is fun, but we don’t always have time for it.
“Life happens,” we say. But isn’t learning part of life? That’s why I’ve learned to stop saying that. Instead, I’m calling it for what it is — being caught up with obligations.
We feel that we have too many responsibilities, and we’ve long stopped learning about things that excites us, even as hobbies. A proposal: You don’t have to say no to either obligations or hobbies.
Instead, practice your hobbies in The Gap.
The Gap is that valley of time between the busyness of your days, while you go about your obligations. There will always be pockets of time for you to explore your passions, away from the hustle of everyday.
Hitting two birds with one stone
Cliche as it may be, the concept of hitting two birds with one stone is effective — and highly underrated. Most people simply don’t know how to do it well.
Human beings have always been multifaceted. That’s why the concept of specialization feels so unnatural. But for some reason, everyone’s telling you to do it. “You’ll never get a big enough audience that way!” Replace the word audience with salary, and this has been touted as “common sense.”
I’m sort of allergic to specialization. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe not. One thing’s for sure though, it’s that I don’t want to leave my other passions at the back burner in pursuit of “common sense”.
So, going back to having your cake (a stable job and other obligations that keep your life afloat) and eating it too (enjoying things simply to enjoy them, AKA hobbies).
Practice your hobbies in the Gap. Ideally, find an excuse to practice your hobbies while simultaneously fueling your job/obligations.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time I made a deadline to myself to write an article about Progressive Summarization. While I loved writing about it, there just comes a point where I needed to stop. I gave myself permission to enter the Gap. During this Gap, I looked at other projects on my plate. I remembered I had to make a presentation for a productivity webinar. Then, recalling that I wanted to try digital art for fun (I used to do calligraphy as a side hustle a few years back) I decided to combine the two.
“Hey, what if I combine the two things so I can practice my hobby AND be a ‘responsible adult’?”
This is what that looked like.
What this means is, while I practiced my hobby, I didn’t ignore my responsibilities. While respecting my obligations, I was able to explore an interest of mine.
All while being in the Gap of my writing process. Once I did this short “practice” session, I was able to refresh my mind to write even more. An added bonus is this graphic element that I can re-use it in the future. Such is the value of creating discrete packets and mood-first productivity.
Exciting isn’t it? Here, have your cake. And eat it too.