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3 Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

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If you are full of the desire to make learning a priority in your life, but you can’t seem to stick with it, you will most likely benefit from one easy way to keep yourself focused on the goal. It’s as simple as this: make a schedule.

This is especially important if:

  • you’re the type of person who won’t stick to something if you don’t have a plan
  • you get sidetracked by all the new topics you come across as you study
  • you feel like you don’t have any time in your life for studying

These three traits, while being beneficial in their own ways, can keep you from reaching your learning goals, but they don’t have to. Here’s how writing up a learning plan can help you succeed, and don’t worry if you’re not a natural planner. We’ll walk you through, step by step.

1. You’re the type of person who won’t stick to something if you don’t have a plan.

You know who you are. You wake up, and you wonder what you’re going to do today. Lacking any sort of to-do list, you watch a little television, surf the Internet, read a chapter of a book that you won’t come back to tomorrow and go get coffee with a friend.

Before you know it, the day’s just about through, and while it wasn’t an unpleasant day, you aren’t ending the day with any feeling of accomplishment.

Or maybe you wake up knowing you want to start reading about botany. You go to the library and check out a stack of books. Over the course of the next week or two, you skim several of the books, but you don’t finish any of them. You may have added two facts to your repertoire of trivia, but you return your library books with about the same level of ignorance.Then you drop the whole autodidact thing altogether and go back to your Net surfing.

Make a plan before you begin.

It sounds tedious to sit and research and make a list when you’re ready to go, but it will pay off. You won’t be overwhelmed with options each day. You’ll wake up knowing exactly what and how much to do today to meet your goals. You’ll end the day with a feeling of accomplishment.

2.You have specific goals that you don’t want to abandon if you get sidetracked.

Maybe you have dedicated yourself to an ambitious goal of reading all the great epic poems or working through several levels of calculus and diving into difficult physics. After finishing the Iliad or Calculus I, you need a break.

Or maybe while you were reading the Iliad, you got really interested in Greek mythology and Ancient Greek culture and started reading a couple of thick books on those topics.

It’s okay to take a break from a certain topic and recharge with a fantasy series. It’s great to follow your interests as they lead you in various directions, spanning off of your original topic like rays of educational sunshine!

If you have specific goals, though, you want them written down so you can come back to them. Finish your series of fantasy novels or your book on daily life in Ancient Greece. Then come back to your plan and do the next task.

3.You feel like you don’t have any time in your life for studying.

You have a job. You have kids. You have to go to school and study things that don’t interest you. You have to clean your house. The dog needs walked, the lawn needs to be mowed and the car needs an oil change.

You’re busy, and you’re tired. At the end of the day, all you want to do is relax.

Relax! There is no prescribed schedule for autodidacticism. Set goals that are reasonable for you and your life. If you can only dedicate one half hour each week to lifelong learning, do it. Make a schedule that looks something like this:

Week 1: Read chapter one of Botany for Dummies
Week 2: Read chapter two of Botany for Dummies
Week 3: Read chapter three of Botany for Dummies
Week 4: Color one page of The Botany Coloring Book

When you get to December and you can say you finished six books this year, you’ll feel a lot better than last year when you had to admit you finished zero. Making a plan will help you relax, accept a pace that works for you and get to work.

Not a natural planner?

If you’re ready to make a plan, but you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck. We have created an autodidact starter kit, How to Be an Indie Scholar, to help you out. In it, we walk you through the steps of defining your interests, foraging for resources, and making a plan that works for you.

Download it for free and get started. Just enter your email in the sidebar, and we’ll send it to you.


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