THE BLOG
09/19/2014 02:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Get Educated for Free

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Time and money seem to be the universally accepted excuses for why someone, logically, can't do something. They are working and have a family, so they have no time to get that degree they desire -- or an unending list of other things they have dreams about. Or, they'd love to go to night school but they can't afford it.

Years ago I was listening to an Earl Nightingale audio program in my car, The Strangest Secret for Succeeding in the World Today, and one of his points has always stuck in my mind. Here it is, paraphrased -- What do you do with your evenings? Most of us spend "X" number of hours in front of the television. If you were to channel that time into a productive endeavor, you could accomplish awesome things. In fact, in "X" years you could study to become a heart surgeon!

What are you trading your time for?

What's your dream? Where could you carve out some time?

I get it. All of us aren't willing or committed to using our evening or weekend hours in pursuit of something. We have family commitments. We need to recharge. Nothing wrong with that.

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But what could you do with the time you currently have that is 'dead' time? You know, the time waiting in lines, driving the car, getting ready in the morning, the few minutes in bed before you go to sleep. What could you learn? What could you get excited about? How could that help you excel at your career? How could you use it to become a better parent?

Here are a few ideas to help get you moving in the right direction --

1. Listen to Podcasts

a. Most of us have a Smart Phone today. I listen to podcasts while walking every morning, and I'm amazed at what I'm learning -- 1) SEO - Search Engine Optimization, 2) Building income streams, 3) Getting inspired for my day
b. If you have an iPhone, you can download podcasts directly from the iTunes Store. I've found that the Podcast Addict app works great on my Android and new episodes download automatically. Search for podcasts that interest you.

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c. Here's an idea to get you started on your first Podcast. If you have a job or you are a parent, there is information you can find of value in Manager Mojo with Steve Caldwell, a program about successful leadership. Check out the various programs here, and you can subscribe through iTunes or Stitcher Radio.
d. My wife uses the time spent getting ready in the morning to listen to uplifting, motivational programming. That includes my podcast and a couple of other programs.

2. Use your car as a University

a. Do you listen to music or the news while driving? Well, first of all, stop listening to the news, as it is filling your mind with negativity.

b. Start listening to audios that interest you -- those that will prepare you for the next promotion at work, help you learn another language, educate you about a topic of interest. You can find an abundance of free audio learning at your library.

There's even a good chance you can go online and research what your library offers, put it on hold, and they will inform you when it is available for pick-up. Now that's an efficient use of your time!

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3. Read a Book

a. I've just mentioned using the library. Go online and see if they have a book you're interested in, then put a hold on it. If they have an audio version, listen through your Smart device or in your car.

b. I set aside the first 30 minutes of every morning to read a book. I set a timer, and when it dings I move on to exercise. My wife uses the last 10-20 minutes of the day to read before she goes to sleep. She enjoys using the last few minutes of the day to learn something new, and it allows her subconscious to process and ruminate on that info while she sleeps, further enhancing her learning experience.

It seems that we are all facing time challenges, and those who are in the midst of a demanding career while also raising a family definitely have a full plate. Yet, everyone also has personal dreams and desires. When we look for the moments in our days that are available to accomplish something that is important to us, life seems to take on a new zest and zeal.

You desire to be your best. You want to be successful in work and life. Use those extra moments to help you enjoy the career and life that you desire.