How many PDF books have you bought? How many online courses that will help you market better or build your email list or…whatever?

How many have you completed? I know I have a huge notebook in Evernote full of PDF books I’ve purchased over the years. I’ve never read these books and quite likely won’t ever read them. Early in 2015, as I looked at that huge folder of books I’ve never read, I decided on a few rules for new books and courses.

By following these rules you can save yourself money, and actually get through more useful content in the year.

1. Only do one online course at a time.

First off, you’re only allowed to do one online course at a time. Sure, be in a mastermind group and take a video course from…whomever. Just don’t sign up for three courses at the same time simply because they launched on the same day.

It doesn’t matter what other courses become available. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been waiting for that course to become available. You only do one course at a time and don’t purchase any new ones until it’s done.

Can you stop a course or skip parts of it? Of course you can. I’ve been doing Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course and I skipped the stuff on how to install WordPress. I’ve been building WordPress sites for years, so I don’t need that section of his course.

Use your mastermind group to hold you accountable for only doing one course at a time. Make it one of the things they need to hold you accountable for.

2. You do the work and write it down.

How many courses have you purchased and even watched, or let your eyes absorb photos on the page, but never did anything more than that?

Any good course is going to ask you to do some work. Any good course is going to spark thoughts in your head if you’re actually paying attention. Do the work and write down those thoughts. I do mean write those thoughts down on paper. Using paper has been shown to help you retain more information and the goal is to retain more usable information, right.

[Tweet “Any good course is going to require you to do some work.”]

I devote a single specific notebook just for course work. It sits on the shelf in my office and I pull it out every day as I start the next lesson in a course.

When you do this work, you do everything the course tells you to do, even if it feels silly. I’ve done email list-growing courses that wanted me to put popups on my site. I hate popups but I did it to see if I got complaints (I didn’t) and to see if it worked (it did). After a month of having one, I still hated it and wasn’t proud of my business with it there so I cut it.

3. Write about it.

The final step in any course is to write about it where people can see. You don’t just copy verbatim what the course told you to do and tell everyone else the same information. You sit down and take out your top 3-5 takeaways from the course and you write them down.

This forces you to truly sift through the information and internalize what you learned. I’ve read books I disliked only to find 4,000 words into a review that the book had a bunch to teach me. I still didn’t recommend reading them, but I had a newfound appreciation for the author and their content because I took the time to write about it.

Now, stop purchasing every course that comes out. Purchase one and finish it. Do the work and write about it. If you do that, you’re going to get much more out of each course that you do and you’re going to move your business forward faster as you truly internalize the work and apply it to your business.

photo credit: mwscheung cc