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10 Simple Ways to Constantly Keep Learning Without Making a Big Effort

By | Stacey Lastoe |

I genuinely enjoy learning, and years ago when I first moved to NYC and intensely believed that there was a serious gap in my education—I’d never taken an art history class!—I signed up for a continuing education course at NYU. Truthfully, though, I can tell you little about what I retained, much as I enjoyed the class at the time. I’m now on the school’s mailing list, but typically emails go unread.

This isn’t because I don’t still have a thirst for learning new things though; rather, it’s that I don’t have the energy (or money) to invest in this particular type of learning, which in the end wasn’t so much about upping my intelligence as it was about memorizing artists, periods, and important works.

The learning I desire to do now is less specific. I’ve always been drawn to smart people and notice when people use big words when they’re not trying to be ostentatious (see what I did there?). Seriously though, one of the things I love about my husband is his awesome vocabulary, which, full disclosure, is a bit better than mine.

Many companies offer professional development courses and understand our desire to stay on our toes and grow outside of the area we’re super specialized in. And while I commend those initiatives, some of those classes still require a significant amount of time, effort, and energy. There may be a period where I’m ready to invest in that, but that time is not now. If you’re like me and have a thirst for getting smarter but either don’t have company-funded courses at your disposal or the drive to devote to them, you can still score IQ points.

For all of us who endeavor to keep on learning long after graduating college, there are literally dozens of things you can do—many of them from the comfort of your very own couch. Here are 10 of my personal favorites.

1. Do Crossword Puzzles

I’m still a long way from The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, but that’s OK because each day the paper has a short puzzle that you can fill out online as you’re timed.

2. Read Outside Your Interests

Easier said than done, I realize. One of the sheer joys of reading is pursuing that which we find intriguing based on personal choice. Required reading is so high school. But the thing about exploring subjects outside your comfort zone is that it can help you discover new interests, and once you start going down that new rabbit hole, who knows what other things will open up.

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