As a college student, I find that my list of productive things to do generally involves reading. I'm studying for classes, then I'm reading SETT blogs, then I read "On Writing Well"...the list goes on. I'm spending a lot of my time consuming information (albeit valuable information), and this leads to feeling unaccomplished.
I know that the first step to improvement is to gather information (reading). How can I do something correctly if I don't know whether or not I am?
But, I also remember reading in Four Hour Workweek - Tim Ferris suggests not reading more than one non-fiction book at a time.
So how do i switch gears and do more when I don't know what to do?
I find reading addictive, so it sucks up as much free time as it can. It sucks up a lot of non-free time, too.
The approach that works for me is prioritising the big tasks. You know that rocks and sand story, right? (If you put the rocks in the jar first, you can then add the sand. If you put the sand in first...) Reading is sand, action is rocks.
The way to do it is just to try and implement as much as you can. In the process of doing that, you'll have to make many decisions where you don't know what to do. Make a note of them as they arise, but try and make a decision anyway to keep moving. Then later you can sit down and research the "correct" answer to your questions. This approach should ensure that you only spend time researching actionable things.
Easier said than done, though.
I'd say to spend two hours a day gathering non-urgent information. That's general skills, organization, strategy, etc. Then spend the rest of your time actually working on something that you care about, even if you suck at it. As you go, you'll need more information that will be immediately applicable to what you're doing, so take your time and absorb that, and then immediately apply it.
This strategy allows you to broaden yourself (the two hours a day), but focuses most of your learning on stuff that will be reinforced through action and is guaranteed to be relevant.
About three weeks ago, I recognized a common phenomenon that's hard to describe.
A lot of times, you know something, but you're not doing it. Or you're not living it regularly.
When you come across information you've already read or seen, the temptation is to say, "I already know this." Okay, you know it - but are you living what you know? If not, you might want to keep studying and practicing on that topic, even if you feel like you "know" it.
When I start reading a book on managing money, or managing time, or setting goals, sometimes I have a reaction. I say, "I already know this." But then I stop myself. Stop. And I ask, "Am I living it?" Okay, I need some goals and I need to look at them regularly. Am I doing it? If not, I'll re-read the section, or watch another video on it.
I'll be honest - it's somewhat boring going through information you've already come across. But it's necessary if you're not doing/living it.
So back in January, I wrote out my 7 goals for the year. It's been two months, so let's see how I'm doing :
1. Become FULLY polyphasic
I'm close on this one. Many days I go perfectly, sometimes if I have nothing to do I oversleep and then skip some naps during the day. I'm actually pretty satisfied with that, as I'm only sleeping 2.5-4.5 hours per night, I'm never tired, and can always count on being awake early and staying up late. I'll keep pressing to be more consistent, but I'm satisfied with where I am.