Why Not Learn Something New at Work?

If you have a little free time at your workplace, why not spend it learning things?

I live overseas and every day I see people who are working pretty boring, low-paying jobs. These jobs require them to sit in one place for long periods of time. Maybe they are just watching a shop, waiting for a customer, or they are standing in a restaurant waiting for a customer…whatever, they are not doing anything. Just waiting. And waiting.

Actually, no–many of them ARE doing something. They are looking at their smartphones, texting, doing stuff on social media, watching a video. But what are they NOT doing?

They are not learning anything new. 

What they knew yesterday, they know today. What they know today, they’ll know tomorrow.

Nothing changes. Including their salaries, and their futures. They are not reaching their own personal potentials. 

I always liked the film Good Will Hunting, about the janitor who spent his free time in the library. He was a self-taught expert on every subject! He didn’t use his knowledge for a better job, he just wanted to become educated. But when he found his actual mentor, he began to really put his talents to proper use. The first step for him, though, was learning new things…and how did he do it?

He went to the library and got books to read!

good will hunting reading
Good Will Hunting

That is how humans have been learning things for centuries. Books, books, books!

And today, we have websites, we have access to digital libraries right in our hands. Nearly the entire sum of all human knowledge is available to most of the world, via a small handheld device.

What are we doing with these miraculous devices?


No, nothing wrong with Instagram, I use it, too. But just think about it. If there’s anything you want to learn, any question you want to ask–you can do it, with your phone. Or if you don’t want to sit on the phone, hey, I don’t blame you. But then go to the library, get a book…and start learning something new. Expand your mind and your horizons.

Who knows what you’ll know tomorrow? And knowledge changes people….

So who knows who YOU WILL BE tomorrow?

Matt Cates

Matt Cates is the co-founder and creative director of Mad English Lab.

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