Photo Credit: pear83, sxc.hu

“If you’re not learning something new every day, you’re not really living every day.” I heard this quote many times when I’m still young, it was always insisted to me that the habit of constant and intentional learning is one of the key to fuller life.

“What are the sources of lessons?” I asked.

I lived my younger years on 1990s, when much of the wonders of connectivity was not yet developed. Since we’re in the rural area, fewer mediums are available. But still, with the help of my father who loves learning, I was exposed to some great sources like educational radio shows and TV documentaries. I didn’t grew up attending church where we can hear life lessons every week (it’s sad to see young churchgoers sleeping on preaching time because they missing a lot of good stuff), but I think I received enough moral and “grow-up” admonitions from my parents and aunts.

We also have few books, but all of them are academic, so I got the books-are-boring bug. I read them still, but only one chapter per month. I was not cured of my aversion to books until I discovered other interesting genres on my college years.

Fast forward fifteen years later. I was now on my twenties, an IT graduate and working as a teacher on the college where I graduated from. With the rise of the internet and mobile devices, I was exposed to more sources of information and life lessons. Here are them (note that I didn’t include formal courses and actual life experiences, I also split internet into categories):

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Word of mouth
  • Books
  • Audiobooks
  • Blogs
  • Youtube Channels
  • Podcasts
  • Movies
  • Magazines
  • Social Media
  • Seminars
  • Newspapers

With proper perspective, moderating self-control, and use of good apps, we can all take good leverage from these sources. But subscribing to all of them will make anyone insane and burst due to information overload. I believe in Essentialism; embracing the essentials and letting go of the unessentials. In order to effectively absorb all I’m feeding to my mind, I decided to cut other sources and focus on some that I can healthily manage.

Eliminated or highly moderated sources:

TV

This is the first on my list to be cut off. I still watch some shows like All for Juan, Juan for All on Eat Bulaga and MMK, but I don’t and won’t watch any other shows for now. Yeah, I’m missing a lot of good shows like documentaries, but I discovered that I can still watch them on Youtube with awesome bonus – no commercials! I’m missing a lot but I can still find them on other sources.

How about current events? First, I think that some adults are spending exaggerated time watching news. I’ve noticed that a ringing conflict in my country’s politics or a missing airplane abroad takes more than fifty hours of airtime broadcast. Instead of watching news programs on TV where there’s lot of repetitions and commercials, I prefer reading online news, view them on my most convenient time and apply speed reading techniques. Or as Tim Ferriss advises, just approach a news fanatic person who recently spent eighty hours of his life watching the news and ask for a three minute summary of the whole thing, follow up with some good questions for details and clarifications and you’re good to go. Promise, if it’s not life and death issue (earthquake, storm) and you can do nothing about it except whine, summary is all you need, do something proper or noble for your country instead.

Radio

I love radio because I can do another activity while listening. But audiobooks now replaces radio for me. I miss some local radio stations like FEBC, but I decided to embrace the more focused and comprehensive contents of books.

Magazines

I read magazines like InTouch, National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Christianity Today, and T3 before, but because I’m also reading contents from their websites and other blogs, I found the contents have more similarities than differences. I opted for reading batches of blog posts per week than waiting for a magazine issue to be released every month. (If you’re missing the look and feel of a magazine, you can use an app called Flipboard.)

Social Media

This is a highly moderated source for me, because social media has a very addicting appeal to it – you can be updated about the people you care about – whenever, whenever. But when I asked myself if I really need to know the details of all of my friends’ life regularly, the answer is an unequivocal no. I say that it’s even important to not know all the details and reserve the updating in your personal meeting - so you would feel the full human essence and connect to your friend’s heart in the most natural way. I think I’m seeing one of the bad effects of excessive social media when friends are no longer talking to each other (because they are already updated – even about what they’ve eaten for lunch just minutes ago – #myDeliciousLunch) and just staring at their screen, checking Facebook and Twitter again and again!

I don’t want to fall into the infinite-scrolling trap whenever I’m logged into Facebook or Twitter, so I created a simple schedule when I would check these sites. One hour every weekend is really enough for me. To post updates, I use a service called Hootsuite where one can schedule posts ahead of time. You can also use Buffer for the same purpose, I just find the first better suited for me.

Newspapers

Because I decided to go almost all digital, newspapers was eliminated from my information sources. Blogs replaces them for me.

Embraced sources:

Word of mouth

There’s no more powerful medium than a person with real burden in what he’s saying. When someone is truly passionate about the topic, and he can’t afford to not to say what he’s about to say, then life change amongst the listeners is inevitable.

It’s also great to have frequent conversations with the people you admire, or the people who already achieved what you want to achieve. Even fifteen minutes of solid advice from them are more precious and practical than eight hours of advice from people who are just talkers not doers. Treat them to lunch, and don’t forget to take good notes from them. John Maxwell, when he’s starting on his personal growth journey, even offered to pay $100 dollar for every lunch meeting with the leaders he admires.

Books

Books are unquestionably the most important (and undeniably my favorite) source of life lessons for me. I’m always grateful for the words of wise and dedicated people written to inspire and to instruct individuals who wants to make a difference. Books can open your mind to other perspectives, awaken your heart with passion, or even change the trajectory of your life for the better. I’ve read hundreds and can never fully articulate how they made my life’s eyes opened. And one of the best thing about these good friends is – I can meet them again and again! Click here for my recommendations.

Here are some great quotes about books:

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."
- Charles William Eliot

"Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed."
- Joseph Addison

"A book, too, can be a star, 'explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,' a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe."
- Madeleine L'Engle

"If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all."
- François Fénelon

"A book is a friend whose face is constantly changing. If you read it when you are recovering from an illness, and return to it years after, it is changed surely, with the change in yourself."
- Andrew Lang

"The love of books is a love which requires neither justification, apology, nor defense."
- J.A. Langford

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
- Author Unknown

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
- P.J. O’Rourke

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.
- William Styron

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
- Joseph Brodsky

Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.
- J.K. Rowling

"The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend. When I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one."
- Oliver Goldsmith

"The habit of reading is the only enjoyment I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone. It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you. It will last you until your death. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live."
- Anthony Trollope

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." 
- Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

"No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of the children of men."
- J.A. Langford

"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
- Clarence Shepard Day

"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book." 
- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Audiobooks

As much I love reading books, for a normal working day for me, I can only read for about three to four hours because I have other commitments to fulfill. Thankfully, I discovered one of its most innovative form – books in audio. With them, I can “read” books while I’m on a long commute, or washing my clothes – I proudly call it my “Laundry University”, and I can say that I learn more from it than my formal schooling. 

Blogs

Before, I only read blogs whenever I’m searching for a topic that I’m clueless about like “writing an effective copy” or “how to live as a minimalist”. But when I found goinswriter.com, I immediacy became fascinated with Jeff’s writings and I subscribed to his blog. Then my interest in blogs sparked, I’m currently subscribing to a number of blogs and reading fifteen posts in minimum every day.

Here are the blogs I’m subscribing in:

Youtube Channels

I go to Youtube to watch video preaching by Andy Stanley and Joel Osteen. I also use their church websites but I find Youtube to be faster even in slow connections. Also, I have a techy bent and wants to find out about the latest technologies and reviews, so I visit the Youtube channels of Apple, Google, The Verge, and CNET and the channel of this great gadget reviewer – Marques Brownlee (warning for Apple fans out there, Marques is an Android guy!)

Podcasts

The Apple iPod popularized the concept of broadcast in a pod, hence the name podcasts. Instead of waiting for the airtime broadcast of Dave Ramsey’s awesome show, I just subscribe to his podcast using iTunes.

I subscribe to these following podcasts:

  • Catalyst Podcast
  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast
  • This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt
  • The EntreLeadership Podcast by Dave Ramsey
  • The Dave Ramsey Show
  • North Point Community Church
  • Max Lucado Daily Devotionals
  • Joel Osteen Audio Podcast

Movies

Movies are also great source of golden life lessons. Yes, the novel forms of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars and other novels are better than their movies, but films are better in delivering other elements like visuals and sounds that novels never promised to give. I’m aware that some movies are time wasters at their best, so I always check Rotten Tomatoes for reviews before going to cinema.

“I don’t want to survive. I want to live.”
- Solomon Northup, 12 Years a Slave

Seminars

Attending a seminar is a great way to meet like-minded people that can help you go further and faster in the field you’re passionate about. Also, the feeling of “I’m not alone after all and they are as excited as me in this” you get even just minutes after the seminar started is ever affirming.

Bonus: TED

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) believes in the mantra that great ideas are worth spreading, freely for everyone. And TED is doing a great job in inviting experts in different fields like religion, science, business, technology, psychology and philosophy, and get them talking about their hard-earned ideas in 18 minutes or less (no nonsense, no boring, all awesome). I believe TED deserves to be in the top 10 most valuable websites in the world.

Tools

What apps do I use to effectively access and manage all of my chosen information sources?

Google Chrome

I’m a former fox loyal to Mozilla Firefox. But when I’ve tried Chrome for a week, I never looked back. It’s simpler, faster, and more “Googley” - deeply integrated with Google services and fanatically follows the Google motto “Don’t be evil.” With Chrome, I can sync all of my bookmarks, preferences, and apps, so when I’m using a different device, I just need to sign in and feel at home with my browser within seconds.

And please don’t ever suggest to me Internet Explorer. I’m also a web designer and I have more than enough nightmares with that browser.

Evernote

The number one reason I bought a smartphone is because I want to take my notebook with me everywhere. I’ve tried other offerings like Springpad (now officially dead), Catch notes, and Google Keep, but Evernote remains the champion for me.

With Evernote, you can “remember everything”, you don’t need to remember all the details of a project with your head, use the best tool for it instead – notebook, and with Evernote, the trouble of losing your pen (this always happens to me) and worst – finding out your notebook was raptured is now no concern. Evernote is a cloud service, it means that what you put on your smartphone can also be seen on your computer. And even your house is burned to ashes with your all of your gadgets, your precious notes are saved somewhere in Evernote servers.

Honestly, whenever I’m looking at someone’s smartphone with no notetaking app like Evernote and with their desk full of piles of papers, I’m feeling a twinge of pity. Why all the trouble while they can leverage the advancement of technology and use Evernote? Why they are treating their smartphone just like a normal phone? It’s a smartphone! It has more processing power than the computer that launched the Apollo 11! Just like Apple advertises, "You're more powerful than you think" with iPhone 5S, and that mantra is also applicable if you’re using an Android device.

Instead of piling up physical notebooks and be drowned in a sea of notes, I transferred them all to Evernote and let it stay there in my reach wherever I am.

Google Drive

I wouldn’t participate in the Google Drive vs. Dropbox vs. OneDrive debate here. I simply choose Google Drive because it’s more integrated with Google services (again, more Googley!). I uploaded all of my crucial files on Drive and sleep peacefully at night knowing that they’re safe even my laptop and backup drives were stolen or eaten by my dog.

Moon+ Reader Pro

I love books and I love to carry them with me all the time, I even read books on the bus or jeepney (this practice never fails to attract some onlookers and some whispers like, “He’s weird…”. What is wrong with reading books while commuting? I’ve seen others playing with their PSP or taking their #latestSelfies even the bus was shaking violently). But I can only carry one or two books at a time, so I’ve taken one of the biggest step in my journey in embracing the digital life – reading books on my smartphone.

True to my nature as a Ravenclaw (Melancholy), I searched and tested a number of apps before settling to Moon+ Reader Pro. For me, it’s richer and simpler than the famed Aldiko book reader. You can take notes, set bookmarks and highlights with different formats, it measures your reading speed, it reads .mobi, and it’s integrated with an offline dictionary.

Calibre

This is the best Ebook management tool I found for PC. It supports all Ebook file formats and has an Ebook conversion feature, thus, it’s a perfect tool for an aspiring writer who wants to publish Ebooks on Amazon Kindle.

MortPlayer Audiobooks

When I first listened to audiobooks, I forgot to research the best apps and tune in immediately with just my music app. But days after, I realized that the default music player was not meant to be used for audiobooks, they’re terrible at setting bookmarks because they can’t do it at all. And looking at my library with music and audiobooks all messed up made me dizzy. Then comes MortPlayer Audiobooks, a free app lovingly coded by a generous programmer, it handles bookmarks well and has a good equalizer, so you can listen to your books even on a noisy market.

Pocket

This is one of the most invaluable app for me. I’m a blog reader and prefer reading news on the web than watching TV simply because I can use speed reading and skip all the commercials! Before discovering Pocket, I regularly visit all the blogs I like and click all the new articles to new tabs. The minimum number of tabs on my regular reading is about fifteen, and it makes my browser cough blood! To prevent this, I tried to use a RSS reader called Feedly, but fallen out with it because I can’t read the articles offline. Then I saw Pocket, tried it and fallen in love with it in the first five minutes. Why? Because it supports offline reading, and has a handy Chrome extension that lets you save an article with just one click! Instapaper also do this trick, but Pocket, in my experience, is faster and more streamlined.

If This Then That

All people who have accounts on different sites and apps whether it’s Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Pocket, Wordpress, Blogger, Youtube, or whatever apps that handle data must use this, again I repeat – you must use this. When I found this as a recommendation on the book of Michael Hyatt titled Platform, I gasped, “Oh wow! We’re now really in the future!”

Think of this service as your ever faithful information manager on the web, “Put the internet to work for you,” not the other way around. What it can do? Well, it almost connects every service and data-related apps you can find. For example, you post something on Twitter and it would be automatically be added as a note on your Evernote. Or when your favorite blogger added a new post, your Pocket account would automatically receive it. There are hundreds of ready-made “recipes” that you can use or just create your own!

2 comments:

Earl Bardz said...

This is truly Excellent!! I am glad that I found your post, I feel the same way about learning to. I think a good thing to add here is from Bruce Lee's words - "Learning is a journey without an end". It would be really great if you share this more and circulate this more so more people can be inspired :-)

Boni Manalili said...

Thank you Sir :)

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