Last week I wrote a post about doing your research, finding the information you need to make progress toward your goals and being prepared for the opportunities that inevitably arrive throughout life. This week I want to write about how I go about finding that research.
My family and anyone else who has ever been in my house knows that I have a thing for books. My parents are the same way, as were my paternal grandparents. Thankfully my wife has a similar affliction. Books are a key source of my research. Right now I have books next to the bed by Todd Henry, Brené Brown, Adam Grant, and Maya Angelou, along with some fiction and a couple of books I’m reading with my nine-year-old daughter. I also have an Archie comic that she gave me to read. These are all either in progress or in the queue. And yes, I could be getting a lot of my books from the library, but I often make notes in the margins of the non-fiction books that I’m reading.
I take the bus to work because my parking space would be seriously far away and the bus drops me right in front of my office, plus it’s part of doing my part for the environment (I don’t just do that). Most days I spend about 50 minutes total on my bus trip to and from work. This gives me a lot of time to listen to podcasts on a variety of topics including creativity, leadership and coaching, religion, etc. Right now I’m also listening to the audio book version of Mel Robbins book (good content and she’s entertaining) and before that it was Angela Duckworth’s Grit. Audio books are, of course, far more difficult to write in the margins in and are harder to lend to others so I don’t listen to a lot of them.
I’ll also often watch videos (usually not on the bus) of some of the people I’ve mentioned above, including TED Talks, but also of many others. I also, when given the chance, will go see interesting speakers. Last year we took our daughter to see Canadian Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield. I learned some interesting facts and was inspired.
I’ve also taken courses and workshops (online and in person), sometimes directly related to my work in academia, but just as often for my own personal growth, which helps to make me be even better at my job. And because I work at a university, sometimes (often) I even read a few journal articles.
I find books, podcasts, videos, speakers, workshops, etc. through a variety of methods.
- Google search or library search – I started listening to Lewis Howes’s podcast as a result of Googling Brené Brown and coming across an episode of his show that she was on.
- Recommendation from another book, podcast, etc. that I’ve already read / listened to or watched – I recently discovered Mel Robbins (how I hadn’t heard of her and the “5 Second Rule” before this I don’t know) on Chase Jarvis’s website (I was there watching an interview he did with Todd Henry).
- Recommendation from someone I know – My wife recommended the guided meditations from UCLA that I often use. It turned out that she had also discovered both Brené Brown and Mel Robbins long before me (she’s really smart and awesome)
- The Rabbit Hole (the most dangerous, but sometimes fruitful) – I’m guilty at times of following the recommendations on the side of YouTube. If you’re going to let yourself do this, I recommend that you set a time limit or your day might disappear on you.
Another key way that I collect research for my learning is through reflection. This happens in two ways: ongoing throughout the day and as part of my evening routine.
I carry a small Moleskin notebook around with me where I will write down:
- Inspiring quotes that I come across
- Random ideas that come to me
- Something interesting somebody else said
These might be things you want to follow up on later, or not, but get them down before you forget them.
At the end of my day, as part of my evening routine I note my “wins” and “where I could have done better”. Some examples from this past week include:
- I sent an email to someone I took a workshop from a couple of years ago and asked for some recommended resources. She said she’d said them to me later this week. (Win!)
- I’ve consistently been hitting my water goal every day (I really don’t want another kidney stone), but I don’t always remember to drink throughout the day and end up drinking a lot of it near the end of the day, which results in me getting up during the night. I need to be better about listening to the alarms on my watch that are there to remind me to drink throughout the day. (Something I need to improve on).
I also keep a journal where I write an entry about various things going on my life, as well as sometimes notes related to some of the things I’ve learned throughout the day from any source. I try to make an entry in that every day, which is a habit that I’m really working on making stick.
Where do you find your research? What are the sources of your on-going learning?
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