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Just-In-Time Learning Is the Secret to Consistent Action (Action Leads to More Action)

3 Step L.A.P. Framework to Practically Use Just-In-Time Learning in Achieving Your Goals in 2024

Hi friend!

This week I want to talk about the how Just-In-Time Learning helps you take consistent actions, so that you achieve your goals in 2024.

💡 Today at a glance

  • Just-in-case Learning vs. Just-in-time learning — The benefits and pitfalls.

  • Learn the 3-Step L.A.P. Framework, the Just-In-Time learning approach that’s helped me achieve my goals.

  • A breakdown on how I used the L.A.P. framework to start this newsletter in 2023 and hit publish on 13 issues of the newsletter.

Just-In-Case learning is typically what most people experience in the schooling system.

People are taught a wide range of topics in schools “just in case” they need it. You might learn it for a test or an assignment, and if you don’t use that information again, then it’s simply forgotten.

Just-In-Case learning has some benefits in the standardised schooling system of course.

Schools want to give you a wide breath of knowledge and skills to kick start your life.

In the modern day economy, information is abundant (and overwhelming), we don’t really need to consume every piece of information fed to us or be afraid that if we don’t, it will disappear forever.

There are tools and systems you can use to save and store that information for later (in your own Personal Knowledge Management system).

You have the power of the internet (e.g. Google search) and AI tools (e.g. ChatGPT) to find and distil information when you need it.

So as a working professional or an entrepreneur today, an alternate path way of learning often works better — Just-in-time learning.

What is Just-In Time Learning (JITL)?

Just-In Time Learning (JITL) borrows it’s concept from Toyota’s concept of “just-in-time manufacturing” from back in the 1960s. It’s a concept that’s still applied to manufacturing today.

JITL is a learning and development approach that prioritises consuming knowledge and learning new skills when you actually need it. Hence “just in time”.

Here are just a few benefits I’ve personally experienced from JITL that I know you’ll love too.

  1. Increases skill and knowledge retention. When you immediately apply the new knowledge or skill to a task or project at hand, you’ll experience the instant benefits of the time you spent on learning, and the instant gratification of making progress.

  2. More efficient use of your time, energy and attention. If you’re an ambitious 9-5er with a busy day job and commitments outside of work (e.g. family, partner, hobbies), then being laser focused on learning things that helps you make progress towards your professional and personal goals is key to a life without burnout.

  3. Reduces stress. Practicing JITL reduced my stress levels because I’m now consuming less but more intentionally. Reducing information overload and focusing on learnings that help me take immediate action on my goals.

Over the last 4+ years, I started to practice and develop a personal mental model that I call now call my 3-step L.A.P. framework.

It’s a simple mental model that helped me achieved my personal and professional goals as my life got busier moving into my 30s.

But before we dive into the L.A.P. framework, I want to quickly talk about a few problems with Just-In-Case learning (but also when it still makes sense).

The pitfalls of Just-In-Case learning

People sometimes struggle to make actionable progress on their goals and projects if they are caught up in the just-in-case learning and consumption rabbit hole.

As someone who is multi-passionate and love to learn new things, I’ve definitely been there myself!

  1. It feels productive, but you might just be wasting your time. Gaining new knowledge “feels productive”. You feel like you’re making progress but it can actually just be a form of procrastination. Helping you avoid the real (and perhaps harder) work of making progress on your goals.

  2. Information overload distracts you from the real work. If you spend a lot of your time and energy consuming information, you won’t have much of it left over for deep work or making progress towards your goals. Mental exhaustion is a real thing!

  3. It’s fun and low effort. Our consumption-focused economy makes it very easy to consume new articles, videos, course etc.

When I had more time and fewer commitments in my teens and early 20s, just-in-case learning was fantastic. It’s opened my eyes to new knowledge and ideas as I followed my curiosities. It truly accelerated my personal development journey.

My personal and professional life got much busier when I entered my late 20s and early 30s.

I started to feel overwhelmed with information overload and just-in-case consumption of information was no longer serving me as it once did.

So I shifted more and more from just-in-case learning to just-in-time learning.

But I don’t think we should eliminate all just-in-case learning.

It’s fun, interesting and engaging for the mind to connect new and old ideas.

If everything I was learning in the moment was just-in-time learning, it would take the fun out of learning.

Instead, I believe in different seasons of your life, your ratio of just-in-time vs. just-in-case learning needs to be adjusted. In my current season of life, I’m aiming for a 5:1 ratio.

Yours will likely be different.

💡 How does JITL relate to Slow Productivity principles?

Principle 1: Do fewer things

JITL allows me to focus in on a few important skills or topics that will really accelerate my progress on my goals, instead of scattering my mention energy and time across various topics of interest.

Principle 2: Work at a natural pace

By focusing on learning a few things that I can take immediate action on, I feel less desire to work at a frantic pace and instead work at a more natural human pace

3-Step L.A.P. Framework — The Just-In-Time Learning cycle

This is the Just-In-Time learning mental model that I’ve been using in the last 4+ years.

L.A.P. Framework — The Just-In-Time learning cycle

Lets break down each part of this framework.

Learning

This stage is where you are looking for resources and consuming information, as part of learning a new skill or acquiring new knowledge.

Resources can be articles, videos, course or books. But it should also include people like looking for mentors, coaches and friends.

I always dig into my own Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) system first. It’s my personal carefully curated repository of knowledge of courses, articles, videos etc. that I’ve saved for later to consume.

So chances are there is something relevant in there. Notion is my PKM tool of choice.

After looking through my own PKM system, I move on to using search tools (e.g. Google) or AI tools (e.g. ChatGPT) as I need to. Then lastly I would reach out to mentors, friends or peers in communities I’m part of.

This normally gives me more than enough information to take the next action.

Action

The key is to consume just enough knowledge so you can start taking action or practice your new skills.

I normally list the next actions or tasks I need to do as part of this “action” phase.

As a recovering perfectionist and information-hoarder, I really have to remind myself that I don’t need to feel 100% ready before taking some action.

Because action leads to more action.

Problem

The reason you want to take immediate action is because you’ll most definitely find new problems or gaps in your knowledge when you do something new. This then takes you back to the learning step of this cycle.

In the past I needed to feel 100% prepared before taking action.

This was a mistake. That extra 20% of more information was a poor use of time because there were still plenty of things I didn’t know once I did get started.

You don’t know what you don’t know. 

So you may as well just get started once you know enough. What you don’t know will naturally reveal itself.

I find this a more effective and targeted way of learning and making progress towards my goals.

How I used the L.A.P. framework to achieve my goal of starting a newsletter in 2023

You can start anywhere in this cycle, I often start at the Problem phase.

This is a high level summary of how I used the L.A.P. framework to make progress on this goal.

L.A.P. Framework — The Just-In-Time learning cycle

12 months ago I had the vague idea of starting a newsletter (that’s what everyone says to do online!).

But I wasn’t ready. So this goal sat inactive in my Goals & Project database in Notion for 9 months. During this time, as I came across newsletter-related resources I was prolific at capturing them into my PKM system later.

The key here was being fine with consuming it later.

Because whatever I did consume, I was likely going to forget if I don’t use it straight away.

Then around 3 months ago, I finally found the time and headspace to start working on the goal of starting my newsletter in 2023.

So the first problem, is figuring out how to start a newsletter. But thankfully I didn’t have to start from zero (that’s the beauty of having a curated and personalised PKM system) — I searched through my Notion PKM which contained a ton of articles, videos and courses from experts in the field.

This kicked off my learning process.

After I gained just enough knowledge, I designed my newsletter The Slow Digest in Beehiiv and hit publish on my first issue on September 30, 2023.

For the last 3 months of 2023, I published 13 issues of the newsletters!

Along the way I continued to learn more about growing a newsletter, sought feedback from readers and made changes according. (Thank you to everyone who replied to my newsletter!)

Here are a few examples of “problems” along the way and what I did to “learn”:

Problem 1: I was unsure about the format and length of the newsletter

→ Asked friends on Twitter / X

→ Analysed newsletters I loved (e.g. Justin Welsh, Kevon Cheung, Jay Clouse, Josh Spector) and broke down what I enjoyed most about each one.

Problem 2: My unsubscribe rates were almost as high as my subscriber rate at one point, which is a problem!

→ I asked more experienced newsletter peers for advice

→ discuss my challenges at a mastermind session and I got a ton of insight on running a newsletter and newsletter growth.

In my last newsletter issue of 2023, I shared a couple of my 2024 goals. One of which is to grow the newsletter to 2000 subscribers in 2024.

It’s a scary stretch goal!

But it’ll be my forcing function to go back to the “learn” phase of the cycle, starting with my own PKM system again (There were more “advanced” newsletter growth resources that I didn’t bother consuming since it wasn’t that relevant to my first step of just getting started).

Based on this example, I hope you can see why the L.A.P. framework is circular — and you can start from anywhere! 

I always like to start learning from the angle of making progress on a goal or project.

I strongly encourage your to learn in L.A.P.s 😉

Since I started to apply this framework more intentionally over the last few years, it’s been a game-changer in helping me achieve my personal and professional goals.

🛠️ Building in Public

It’s been over 10 months since I last gave my X profile a full shake up.

Starting with my X banner. I’m a bit design-blind so it was daunting putting it out there. But I’m glad I did!

I was overwhelmed by the thoughtful and honest feedback I got from the community!

Now it’s back to the drawing board, and I can already see it coming together better for round 2 of my banner design.

Stay tuned if you’re interested in the journey 😉 

That’s it!

Thanks for reading.

Hit reply and let me know what you think of the L.A.P. framework, and whether it’s a helpful approach towards learning and achieving your goals —I’d love to hear from you!

See you next week,

CK

📌 Some Interesting Things

  1. Mental Models: Learn How to Think Better and Gain a Mental Edge by James Clear

    Mental models are excellent tools to frame how something works. James Clear curates a brilliant list of the key mental models worth learning.

    Check out the article

  2. Is there a limit to the human brain’s capacity? by Anne-Laure Le Cunff (Nesslabs)

    I enjoy Ness Labs’ research driven approach to explaining complex topics like the human brain, but in a simple and approachable way. Spoiler alert: yes the human brain does have limits!

    Check out the article

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