Learning and development can easily take a backseat to pressing work responsibilities. However, ignoring professional development opportunities will take its toll on your performance making it easier for your employer to pass you over for a promotion and serving as a handicap in any future job searches. Below are five tips to help you carve out the time to learn.
1. Make a commitment to give professional development the time it deserves
Learning is an active choice and consciously deciding to place it among your top priorities will make it easier to set goals and reach them. If you already feel that taking time for professional development courses will benefit you, get specific and write down the ways in which taking the time to learn more will help you. Perhaps getting better at a computer program will help you by freeing up more time that you can use for other projects, or maybe a course in leadership will help set you apart from other candidates for promotion. Whatever the reasons, get specific about how they can help you reach your goals.
2. Ask your employer for time to train
Whether you need an extended deadline, or time off work to attend a course or conference, talk to your employer about making time for your professional development. Frame your request in terms of the benefit you will bring to the company with enhanced knowledge and skills.
3. Schedule learning into your work-time
Book a course, shop for an online course, or choose a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Note how long it will take to complete the course, and how you're planning on getting the most out of the course through follow-up. When you've finished the course, you'll need to speak with your manager about how what you've learned can be integrated into your process and decide what the next step in your learning should be.
4. Schedule learning into your down-time
If you are struggling to fit learning into your daily work routine, consider completing bite-size portions of online courses, reading industry journals, and listening to relevant podcasts during your commute, lunch-break, or any other down-time that you experience during the day between work tasks and family and social activities.
5. Learn with your colleagues
Sometimes solo pursuits can lose speed. Are any of your colleagues interested in learning the same things that you are? Book a course together, challenge each other to complete an online course, or begin a lunch break book club to discuss what you're reading and how you can apply what you're learning to your roles or even transform the company as a whole.