How to Learn a New Skill When You Don’t Have the Time

Growing your business typically means expanding your knowledge and learning new skills.


But you know that. If you’re like most business owners, you probably find yourself feeling constantly limited by the skills you don’t have. You know your business would grow faster if you understood social media marketing or learned new sales strategies.


But learning new skills takes time… time you don’t have.


And this is the entrepreneur’s catch-22.


Can’t get ahead if you don’t stretch yourself. Don’t have time to stretch yourself when you’re a team of one. Can’t expand your team until you get ahead.


And around and around we go, right?


In all honesty, it’s actually not that helpless of a situation. If it were, no one would ever get ahead.


You absolutely can take a huge step forward even with a loaded schedule. All it takes is a shift in your approach and expectations.

Step 1: Commit


Learning a new skill takes discipline, and discipline is simply a commitment you make to yourself.


We can really trip ourselves up when we frame discipline as a series of rigid guidelines we force upon ourselves. The more we think of it this way—like sticking to our goals is all sacrifice and punishment—it gets harder and harder to stay on track. 


If you’re determined to learn a new skill, I encourage you to think of it this way:


Discipline is how you follow through on your commitment to yourself. It is proof that you believe you are worth your own investment of time, sweat, and focus. 


Discipline today is how you create more options for yourself tomorrow.


Every time you set a new goal, consciously commit. Say it out loud. Write it down. “I commit to learning XYZ over the next thirty days.” 


Establish why you want to learn this skill. How is it going to further your business and improve life for you and those around you?


Then, when you’re tempted to sleep in or give higher priority to a more immediate problem, remind yourself of your commitment.


Remind yourself that you are depending yourself to show up.

Step 2: Seize Opportunities


Learning a new skill may seem impractical when you’re working fourteen-hour days just to keep a new business afloat. How are you supposed to squeeze in a training program… even a virtual one?


This is where I encourage entrepreneurs to think differently about learning. 


We live in an incredible time when information is constantly at our fingertips. New skills can be learned gradually through short videos, podcasts, books, blogs, social media groups… and all these educational forms fit cleanly into whatever lifestyle you’re living.


Listen to podcasts on your commute. Read a couple articles on your lunch break. Call a colleague for tips while you’re in line at the bank. Watch videos in the bathroom. 


The information is right there, which means the opportunities are right there… even when your schedule is as crazy as yours. 


And the best part is, when you start looking for these windows of time, you start finding them everywhere

Step 3: Apply What You Learn Immediately


Sometimes consuming information becomes our new comfort zone.


We can surround ourselves with all this education material and feel super proud that we’re learning. 


But all the while, we’re putting off the most important and most intimidating part: doing.


The only way to really learn and master a skill quickly is to apply what you learn as soon as you learn it.


Let’s say you decided you’re going to learn everything you can about email marketing. 


As soon as you finish watching that tutorial on building an email list, start building an email list. 


Don’t wait until you also know how to automate welcome emails and compose compelling copy.


Educational content helps a lot, but experience is by far the best teacher. The sooner you act, the faster you learn. 


And that leads us to the final step:

Step 4: Pay Attention 


Once you start applying new skills, note both your successes and your failures, big and small. What works? What doesn’t? How can you use this insight to improve your next attempt?


To really make the most of your time, apply this step to everything you do in your business. It’s actually in these moments when you’re overwhelmed with work that you have a tremendous opportunity to learn a whole lot very quickly.


Because your entire life is doing. And if you’re still a one-person operation, you are often forced to do things that fall outside your pre-existing skill set.


So… pay attention. What didn’t work today? What one small change can you make tomorrow? Once you’ve made that change, did it make a difference? How will that inform the next change?


The bottom line: don’t worry about having enough time to take a massive step forward.


Massive movement happens by seizing small opportunities. Each small step builds on the one before it, and before you know it, you’re scaling walls.


My advice here is pretty much the same as always:


Just. Get. Started. 


Further Resources on This Topic


Blog Post: How to Revive Your Flatlining Business


Free Video Course: Accelerating Business Growth


Free Ebook: You Grow First: Tips for Advancing Your Business Through Self-Development


Created: 5th Aug 2021