(Editor’s Note: This series originally appeared in Workshifting, a blog which focuses on telework, online tools/resources, travel and technology. Regardless of where we work, being able to manage ourselves is critical to our professional success. I hope you enjoy the series!)
Working outside of a traditional office involves doing a lot of things independently – resolving your own conflicts, figuring out the solutions to your problems and creating your own work. It also involves thinking about your future and generating your own professional development plan.
In a traditional office environment, your boss might tell you what skills to develop. When the boss doesn’t see you all the time, they might – scratch that – they will rely upon you for input. That’s where knowing yourself comes into play. You want to be confident in the things you do well and cite specific examples of when you’ve used that skill.
In addition, be prepared to discuss what skills you’d like to develop. It might be something that will help you do your work easier, better or faster. It could also be a skill you would like to acquire for the future.
Once you and your manager agree upon that skill or quality you want to develop, think about how you want to go about learning it. We all have preferred methods of learning. Ever heard someone come back from a workshop only to say, “What a waste! I could have learned everything I needed to know by reading the book.” This is why understanding how you like to learn will be very valuable.
Audio learners like to learn by listening. This could be at a lecture or podcast.
Visual learners want to see in order to gain understanding. Charts, graphs, diagrams, pictures, films are all visual learning mediums. Visual learners might also like to learn via books.
No style of learning is better or worse. It’s understanding the best style for you that makes the difference. For instance, if you’re a visual learner then the last thing that might interest you is attending a lecture. And, if you did attend the lecture, you might not learn anything.
You might also find that you gravitate toward different learning styles depending upon the subject. An example might be learning how to create a spreadsheet pivot table (by doing it which is kinesthetic) versus learning the history of blogging via a lecture.
Being in tune with not only the subjects you want to learn but your preferred learning style creates greater opportunities for you. It allows you to allocate your resources (time, money, etc.) toward those experiences that will help you learn the most.
In today’s work environment, it’s important to understand that we as individuals are in control of our professional development. And what better way to drive your career than by establishing your own development plan – on your terms.