Learning can be done in many ways, whether we’re in a classroom, at work, walking around, or reading something new on Instagram. There’s a lot of learning that takes place by observing.
Observing is a powerful way to learn. When we observe, we notice our surroundings, slow down, take in and absorb information. It’s a process of soaking up what’s being demonstrated before us, rather than taking part in (doing) that demonstration. We’re essentially an audience member to a performance we’re seeing for the first time.
When used purposefully, we can gain a lot from what we observe on our phones. We might subscribe to a podcast about a topic we’re interested in, watch new releases of cooking tutorials from a favorite chef, or follow certain accounts on Instagram that put out compelling content. Whatever it is that captivates us, this approach of learning by observing can translate to other areas of our lives.
We’ve found that the ways we learn by observing via our devices can be applied to ways we learn lessons in our lives. Through the following four techniques, we can become better observers in our day-to-day (when we’re off our phones!):
1. Embrace curiosity
There’s always some kind of zinger in a video or post that catches our attention. When something sparks our interest we either swipe to learn more, continue watching, or hit subscribe so we don’t miss the latest content release. Just as we embrace curiosity while on our phones, we can do the same when prompted with something new in our lives- we can seek out to inquire further, find out more, and continue the learning experience.
2. Gather information before drawing a conclusion
There’s A LOT of information out there. Observing isn’t merely taking everything at face value but rather using it as a platform to get curious (see above). It’s more like a first stop rather than a destination along the route of learning. With so much content presented to us throughout the day, it’s reasonable to question it before accepting it as fact. The same holds true in our own lives. We’re really learning when we question where our expectations of ourselves and others come from, when we reflect on our thoughts, feelings and experiences to try and understand them further.
3. Pace yourself
Watching a video may get us excited to cook a new recipe, but watching it one time doesn’t necessarily give us all the information we need to perfect it, let alone try it one time. We might rewatch a 30-second video a few times to really get a feel for how we’re going to replicate it ourselves. We can apply this to when we’re being given direction or instruction- we can give ourselves time to digest the information and incorporate it with patience.
4. Have a “step-by-step” mentality
Tutorials and any “how-to” content are very methodical. And they’re presented this way for a reason. Take this blog post as an example. These four bullet points are positioned as a guide for you, the Observer, to keep in mind as you learn. We like steps and maps laid out for us because they’re precise and more attainable this way. When we set out a goal for ourselves, if we don’t give ourselves clear steps then we may focus on the goal itself and become too overwhelmed to even begin. Having more of a strategy allows us to break it down and sets the tone (or pace!) as one we can manage.
We’re already learning so much when we spend time on our phones, but now we know we can learn about learning! We’re constantly observing throughout our day and we can be more mindful of how we absorb information as well as what we want to do with it. With these four approaches to learning, we create an openness and give ourselves grace in the process. Now that we’ve discussed how useful being on our phones can be for our learning when we’re not on our phones, put your phone down, lift your head up and look around.
Catherine at Revive