Working full time, taking care of family and doing chores keeps most adults busy all day … week … month and year long. In your free time, you just want to read a book or watch TV. But you know lifelong learning is not just good for you, it’s necessary in our rapidly changing world. Instead of just vegging out in your free time, what about making lifelong learning comfortable and fun for yourself? CLASS and library programming tries to provide lifelong learners with conveniently scheduled, free and or affordable opportunities to sample new topics, try new things and do so in enjoyable, friendly and comfortable settings. Here are our top 10 tips for maximizing your learning energy, as an adult:

1.  What’s your learning schedule? Have you built time into your day or week to study, go to classes, etc.? Save and make time by using your calendar! Just 10-15 minutes a day regularly add up to serious success. Also, don’t forget to write down the date, time and location of your CLASS or library visit in your calendar.

2. Who’s your study buddy? Make learning fun and social. Taking classes with friends and family is not only quality time, it’s also proven that learning together reinforces knowledge shared during class time. It’s like having an extra brain with you! Your class partner might catch something different than you did, and you can help each other discuss and study outside of class.

3. Are you prepared? You have permission to buy cute school supplies at any age. Bring your favorite notebook, pen and water bottle with you to class.

4. Are you trying to learn on an empty stomach? Don’t. Food is fuel. Dark chocolate, berries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, coffee, avocados, peanuts, eggs and broccoli are a few commonly recommended brain-boosting foods that can support both short- and long-term brain function. Also, snacks are allowed in most classes. You’re welcome to eat a granola bar or fruit or other light-snack-fare respectfully* during class. *Chew with your mouth closed and don’t bring something stinky, messy or too complicated to eat, please and thank you!

5. Be kind to yourself when you’re learning something new. Your parents were probably really frustrated sometimes when they were trying to teach you how to use a spoon and other basic human life skills. We are typically kind to children learning, because we know they may try and fail several times before getting the hang of something new. Extend that same beginner’s grace to yourself and classmates. Don’t forget to allow yourself room to learn and make mistakes when trying new things. Even you had to learn to use your spoon at some point.  

6. Widen your learning horizons. Lifelong learning has become more accessible over the years. There isn’t one right way to learn, everyone is different, and sometimes different stages of learning will require different tools. The CLASS program offers affordable adult classes, and the library’s Technology Center has a plethora of free technology classes. Library staff want to help you navigate all of the resources available to you. Besides in-person classroom opportunities, clubs such as the Family History Detectives provide ongoing casual community learning opportunities in genealogy. Perhaps you’d like to learn by watching educational DVDs or through the library’s Hoopla streaming service. Have you tried one of the Great Courses available on many topics throughout the library’s collection?Ask Information Services Librarians about resources available to you for free with your library card.

7. Don’t devalue basic skills in reading, writing, communication and math. There’s always a wise-guy saying, “when am I ever going to use this” in every classroom. Maybe you’ve been or are that wise guy! Basic skills in primary subjects can help you as you advance. It pays to invest in your foundational knowledge. Every day you’re using these basic skills even if you’re not conscious of it; reading signs, writing text messages, making phone calls and managing your bank account. Do you need to brush up on any of the basics? There’s no shame in starting where you are.

8. Find your positive learning attitude. Make learning fun and interesting for yourself. Get over your negative feelings from the past. Maybe you had a bad teacher, annoying classmates or always struggled with a certain subject. Are these old experiences holding you back? Learn to let go, be honest with yourself about how you like to learn and seek those opportunities. You may have to try a few different things, before you find the right fit. You will probably not be able to vibe with every instructor or every book or even every school. Bring a good attitude and open mind and hang in there until you find your happy learning place and people.

9. Do you have realistic learning goals? Rome wasn’t built in a day so the saying goes. Learning is a cumulative process and practice makes perfect. Teachers help break down subjects into a schedule for you, and you’re probably self-studying a lot more as an adult. You’re probably confident and proficient in many things. Thus, you may have expectations that all things will come easily to you. However, remember, even so-called geniuses practice and work on their skills! Set realistic and achievable goals for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed or stressed out. It’s not a competition. Finding enjoyment in learning new things will be fulfilling throughout your life.

10. Take breaks often, you deserve it! Adults have an attention span limit, just like little kids (thankfully it gets longer as we age). Set a timer and work continuously for 30 minutes. Then take a 10-minute tea break or walk around the block. Try different increments of time and different rewards for yourself as you get through your lesson, book, video, homework, etc. A grueling schedule will eventually burn you out. Pace yourself and figure out what works best for you.