Binge Watch Your Way To New Skills

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Who doesn’t love binge watching a favorite show?

Whether it’s Game of Thrones or Billions, watching multiple episodes in a single sitting makes the experience more intense, rewarding and fun.

That’s a fun part of working for at the company that provides DIRECTV. Whether it’s the DIRECTV app or a programmer app with the subscription, it’s easy to stream great content on a mobile device.

It got me thinking about how binge watching might apply to online learning. Could it make learning more effective? More efficient? How about more fun?

And why was I pondering this question?

A Fortune 10 CEO was recently quoted in the New York Times on reskilling people for the future. “There is a need to retool yourself,” he said, “and you should not expect to stop. People who do not spend 5 to 10 hours a week in online learning will obsolete themselves with the technology.”

(Full disclosure: I work for this great company. Opinions in this blog are my own.)

While it’s true that small steps add up to big changes, it’s possible to accelerate learning by binge viewing great online courses.

As an example, for professional certifications that require ongoing education, binge viewing online courses is highly effective.

Why?

  • It eliminates the inefficiencies of starting and stopping courses.
  • It amplifies learning by increasing the ability to see patterns and make connections between seemingly disparate concepts and information.
  • And a significant amount of learning can be completed in a relatively short time, fueling more motivation to seek out further coursework.

As I rectify my accreditations in public relations and human resources every 3 years, this strategy has made ongoing learning more efficient and more fun.

And it’s worked well for a series of marketing essentials courses I co-created with colleagues in my new career role. And for several weeks my action-item list has included “complete this series of online courses.” But somehow it didn’t happen. Until today. And here’s why.

Schedule time. The 5 online courses I need to complete are 90 minutes each, totaling 7.5 hours. Have you ever found a full day without meetings that you could commit to online learning?

Earlier this week I looked at my schedule and saw I had a few open late afternoon hours on a Friday. So I booked it for 2 online courses. Which then became 3, as I was pulled into the reward of completing course after course.

It was much easier to click into that next course as long as I was already online, in a comfortable place, and with a few hours of time I’d blocked out.

Make yourself comfortable. Maybe there’s a comfortable chair in your workspace. Or a standing desk. Or even a treadmill desk. What would make the environment even better? Your favorite coffee beverage? A healthy snack?

Focus on the course. Find a quiet place. Close your door if you have one. Turn off email and text notifications and other sounds on mobile devices.

Enjoy the experience of focusing intently on only one thing. Research shows that humans can’t multitask anyway, as much as we delude ourselves into thinking that we can.

Write notes on key points. Listen for 3 key takeaways. There’s magic in the number 3. It focuses your thought processes and forces you to prioritize what you heard and saw.

Taking notes on those key points helps to solidify the learning, especially if you hand write them. And you have something you can quickly refer to when you want to refresh your learning.

Take one immediate action. Of those 3 key points, what’s one thing you can put into action right away?

As part of my PR recertification, I listened to an IABC webinar on the art of social media by Guy Kawasaki. That’s how I discovered Canva. It makes anyone, including me, into a graphic designer. Many of the images in this blog are from Canva.

Given the need for all of us to prepare for our next career, why not binge watch your way to a new skill?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, Social Media Savvy for Corporate Professionals, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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