People often claim they are too busy and too stressed to find time to learn something. In my previous column, I mentioned the ideas of dosage and convenience. Beyond that, let us examine desire. Earlier columns talked about the need for novelty within the rhythm of our life and career cycles.

I used to open the MBA program at Case Western Reserve University by pointing out that all of the full time MBAs present were about to spend 22 months in the program. If they slept 7 hours a night (which is unlikely), they would have about 10,000 waking hours during the program. If they took all of the courses we required and did all of the reading asked by the faculty (which is unlikely) and assignments, they would spend about 2,000 hours. I asked them, “What are you learning in the other 8,000 or more hours you are awake?”.

Learning is not about courses and classrooms, training and workshops. It is about something you want to understand or be able to do better. We know from research in the science of learning that people are most efficient at retaining new material and truly “learning” something when they do it in 15-20 minute bursts. We can further conjecture that if these bursts are interspersed with 5-10 minute breaks that stimulate their Parasympathetic Nervous System (the renewal process), people will remember much more of what they thought they had learned.

To make it easier to engage in learning, talk with others about it. Have these conversations at work. Have them over lunch or on coffee breaks. Form a book club or study group of friends that can discuss various topics and help each other learn. Use your commuting time to read or study something you want to learn. If reading is difficult on your commute, use podcasts, books on audio, or MOOC videos. The last resort is to play the audio with speakers under your pillow at night and learn while you sleep. It may cut down on your sex life but you will be learning!