The Experience of Learning | Why You Should Be Less Productive and Stay More Present

by Augusto Cuginotti

We are in the productivity era. The work seems to be finding a way to get things done better, faster and simpler. It all looks good, but our focus on productivity is killing our experience of learning.

Yes, being more productive is also preventing you to learn. Here is why.

Of course I want to be productive, so sometimes I ask myself the question ‘how can I do this better?’ and then instantly my mind goes for a walk and I enter in organising mode, trying to put order on my mess.

In my case, where learning opportunities are being ‘produced’, be better at producing led me to think that focusing on productivity works more like a knitting obsession.


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You can get ten thousand hours of not-learning-much by focusing on productivity.

In fact, many people stay years in school just doing that: producing mostly useless material, sometimes thriving on being trained on something, but learning very little.

I’d say the big bad wolf here relates to anxiety, anticipation, expectation.

While becoming anxious in producing learning for ourselves or others, we don’t actually experience learning. And with no experience, what you end up getting is just another set of stuff in your toolbox or bookshelf, another energy and focus drainer made to prevent you from keep on flowing and actually learning something after all.

Learning is like water flowing out of the source. It is an event where one pays attention to the now, to the moment when an offer becomes available to be recognised and there is an opportunity to stare at it in awe.


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So this is it: when people say learning, they usually mean training. To learn the piano, algebra or Japanese means to do a lot of training until you get good at it.

And to master chords, maths and kanjis are wonderful achievements, so go for your classes and practices, but don’t clutter. Not jumping to the next item on your checklist allows you to listen to the key learning opportunities, the ones which pull the rug from under your feet.

Those opportunities happen when you are paying attention to the experience of being here and now.