How do you learn best? By Reading and watching, or Listening?

Listen to a Podcast while walking

For me, and maybe for you too, creativity can be sparked by learning something new – a new technique, some new history, or a whole new craft. I always assumed that I was a fully visual learner. I like to read, I like images as guides and I especially like how-to videos. However, I have discovered recently that I can learn many things just as well from audio sources, without the visuals.

It’s because of time. My time is as crowded with to-do lists and tasks as everyone else’s, and I am entirely useless at dividing my mental energy or attention between multiple creative or evaluative activities. But, I can listen and consider information when I am doing something entirely physical – like walking or watering the garden. In short, I have found podcasts, and rediscovered audio books.

The most difficult part of listening to an interesting book is the desire to stop walking and immediately implement what I have just learned. The tough part of podcasts is wanting to interact with the speaker – arguing with or building on their ideas. I tend to start muttering into my headphones and that looks crazy. If I hear something really fascinating, my mind can go off on a tangent, thinking about an idea or a new project, and suddenly I have skipped a chapter. Therein lies one of the great things about any book – audio, digital, or hard copy – one can always turn back the pages. I like podcasts for the same reason – you can pause and restart. I sometimes pause the audio, and make a quick recording of my own to store the idea.

It doesn’t mean that I have stopped reading! On the contrary. I have two standing appointments near each other, and time between them, so I spend about 2 hours every Tuesday in a library, reading different reference books. I get involved and engaged in the silence of reading. I don’t like music much when I’m reading. I feel like I have to expend energy to tune it out.

Yet, not everyone likes silence when they read. Some people prefer, maybe even need, background sound to help them focus their attention on the visuals – words or images – that they are absorbing or creating.

Do you find background sounds distracting or helpful, or either depending on the task?

Join the discussion at my FB Group, Creativity Blast. If you join in the next week or so, you will be entered in the random drawing to win a copy of “Easy Home Sewing Projects”. Here’s my video review of the book.