Why you should treat learning like a first date

In-store retail training tablet

Think about what’s around you right now. Is your phone in arms reach?

You must be at a screen to be reading this...and you're probably connected to the internet too. That’s at least three distractions offering infinite options for distraction. Yet online training needs this technology, so therein lies the problem - how to use the technology in a way to focus and learn, while not being tempted to wander?

The answer?

Use your technology as you would on a first date

Think about what you’d likely do on a first date. Out of politeness, you’ll ignore the notifications on your phone, and you’ll probably listen only to the conversation that you’re having with your date. After all, they could be the one!

Apply this behaviour to your own learning - yes, we’re suggesting you treat learning like a date, except the other person is your brain. Hear us out. Start with these basic rules of a first date.

Avoid looking bored

Stay focused by removing as many distractions as possible. Avoid social media or anything that takes you away from the task at hand for that matter.


Switch your phone to ‘do not disturb’, and tell yourself “it can wait”. Just like leaving your date for a moment to talk to a friend may not go down very well with your potential soulmate, so too does multitasking when you’re learning. Your brain will be as unimpressed as your date.

Close down all other browsers, and if you need to take notes, try the old-fashioned way - write it down!

Offer plenty of compliments

Just like your grandparents' parents may have told you when you were young, if you've got nothing nice to say, don’t say it. Positive comments about yourself and others lead to a positive reflection on you, therefore likely making you a more attractive candidate to your date.


The same can be said to learning; where positive self-talk about your progress and learning leads to greater self-efficacy (your own belief in your ability) and reduced anxiety.

Compare this to the flashback you probably had before: a highly-strung driving teacher, nervously grabbing at the wheel of a panicking younger you, if both of you had kept your cool would have learnt other skills faster?

In other words, your own opinion of yourself and your progress is determined by you, first and foremost, so be kind and stay positive.

And if it’s not going well, call it a night

This one’s simple. If the date’s not going well (your actual date, and your eLearning ‘date’) then don't be afraid to cut it short; there’s no sense in delaying the inevitable any longer. Both your date and your brain may be just as relieved.

The caveat to this though, is that you can’t let yourself be put off -  stay in the game and try again later (although in the dating analogy, it may not be with the same individual).

Coming back to the driving lesson, did you let that one bad driving lesson put you off driving forever? Probably not. You probably learned from it and became a more resilient driver.

The same is true for learning on the go - learn from previous attempts, practice what you know, and treat your brain with the same respect that you would for someone on a first date. Do this, and you’ll retain more, learn faster, and continue moving towards the ideal: unconscious competence.

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