Make the Most of Your Online Reading With a Learning Plan

Reading any interesting and informative article that crosses your path could be a huge waste of time. Focus your energies with a learning plan, instead.
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #551

4. Set a time frame

It can seem scary to limit yourself to one topic. Actually, it just focuses the mind. You aren’t setting your learning agenda for life, just for a while. Decide in advance when you’ll revisit your purpose. Put it on the calendar. Heck, you can even tie your learning to the calendar: January you’ll read to learn the history of World War II. February, you’ll learn how to use Photoshop to retouch faded photos. March, you’ll read dystopian fiction to get ideas for your post-apocalyptic survival plans (and you’ll remember that it’s fiction. Fiction! Billy Bob read it too). And so on. 

You aren’t setting your learning agenda for life, just for a while.

5. Beware news

News is especially dangerous. We all know fake news and low-quality news is bad for us (even though we consume it like hotcakes). But even high-quality, well-researched news may be a bad use of your reading time.

If you watch news so you can feel outraged at the latest Thing Politicians Did, or how “They” Are Ruining the Country, then you’re really just reading to get a self-righteous burst of adrenaline. Own it. Then go sign up for a Rugby team and get your aggressions out properly without also polluting your mind.

If you read news to be an informed citizen, get clear on why. You want to learn about candidates so you can vote based on a candidate’s competence rather than hairstyle. 

You want to learn about current events so you know which policies are important. You don’t want to waste your time on equal rights for flightless water fowl when immigration policy matters to you more. 

You want to learn about other countries to know which policies have worked elsewhere, so you can call the competent candidate you elected and urge them to adopt those important policies.

Then when you know why you’re reading news, follow the news stories that will help you reach that goal.

6. Build your mind deliberately

Once upon a time, it was hard work to find good information. The Internet made that easy. Now the hard work is resisting the algorithms that manipulate your attention. Make sure your media consumption isn’t random. Make it add up to a stronger, smarter, more capable you.

Don’t just read something because it’s interesting or good, or because someone you know shares it. Mold your own mind! Choose what you want to learn. Choose a timeframe. Read deeply about that topic for that time. Supplement it with other writing on the topic so your reading adds up to expertise or knowledge.

Don’t just read something because it’s interesting or good, or because someone you know shares it. Mold your own mind!

Be especially thoughtful about politics and know why you care, not just that you do care, before reading an article. And make sure your news is serving you, not just upsetting you.

You have a lot of amazing potential. Aim it in one direction, and use it to create the “you” that you want, not the “you” that the algorithms decide to make you.


I’m Stever Robbins. Follow Get-It-Done Guy on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to Get-It-Done Guy on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. If you’re an executive, entrepreneur, or sales professional and you want a partner to help you get even better at what you do, hire me as yoru coach. Learn more at http://SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.