cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Do any of the following scenarios apply to you?

1. You spend too much time on social media apps like Twitter and Facebook, telling yourself that you are “learning” from your community. When in fact, you are just horsing around, or broadcasting one-way…

2. Under the guise of research and learning, you read too many books, most of which don't really apply to you, or what you do.

3. Or more likely, you read a lot of books with the intention of learning, and do not implement ANYTHING that you learn.

4. You subscribe to 250 blogs in your RSS reader, telling yourself that you need to know what others in your space are doing. And you spend hours sifting through clutter and don't spend enough time actually reading, or learning.

Yeah. Me too.

DISCLOSURE: Let me make this clear. I am NOT suggesting that you stop reading — and learning — to improve your craft. I am suggesting you make more careful choices about what you read — and then take steps to implement things you learn — things that will have measurable impact.

In fact, you are a fool NOT to read more. Learn more. And apply what you learn. I just think too many of us do not practice good habits when we seek to learn (In fact, I could make the point that practicing minimalist marketing should free up valuable time to learn more…).

So, here are a few of my ideas on ways to simplify your learning, and get more out of the time investment:

1. Limit the amount of industry blogs you follow on your RSS reader. A lot of them say the same things. Winnow your list down to the ones that really teach, engage their community, and make you think. Perfectly cool to subscribe to “new” blogs to check them out, but if they don't add any value, remove them. I also make it a practice to schedule time each day to review feeds on my RSS. Waiting several days and having to scan through hundreds and hundreds of new feeds isn't conducive to productive time.

2. Cut down the amount of books you read. Wow, this is hard. And I don't like to suggest reading less. I just want you to read smarter. These days, it is easy to get online reviews of books — enabling you to find the books that really seem to make a difference.

3. When engaged on the social web, ONLY spend time focused on your two marketing goals: initiating conversation with the right people (prospects, customers, referral partners), AND sharing other people's content.

4. When you do read a book with the intention of learning something to improve your craft, make a conscious effort to do whatever it takes to record new ideas to implement later: make notes in the margins, highlight key phrases, record audio notes, or do what I did once, which was take a photo of a page I wanted to remember…

5. And then implement them! I mean, really. What's the point of investing all that time and energy?

6. Make careful decisions about who you network with face-to-face. I have a passion for meeting people at an event, and then suggesting a meeting over coffee to explore synergies. Sometimes these coffees lead to business, new referral partners, or can just be solid learning experiences. But over the years, I have had a lot of pleasant coffees that while the conversation was enjoyable, it didn't result in any value (for my marketing learning). With my limited time, I have to be more selective with whom I spend time with. You should do the same.

Remember, the goal of minimalist marketing is to simplify, to cut away the clutter so that you can focus on the core work that matters, and leads to more profits. This includes the learning you do…

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Do you have any other ideas?