How to Plan Time For Self Learning

I came across this article from Harvard Business Review titled, “6 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Development If Your Company Doesn’t Care About It”. I’d recommend bookmarking it and carving out time to read it.

But that’s also the challenge. There are lots of great articles about how to “own your career” or “the best leadership books to read”. I’m not knocking those articles. Heck, I’ve written a few of them. The question is time.

Managers and employees today have extremely full plates. They are being asked to do a lot at work. Maybe because the company is having challenges finding talent. They also have full lives at home with family and friends. So, where does self learning fit in? Here are a few ways to find time in your already busy schedule.

Be realistic about how much learning you can accomplish. First things first, prioritize your learning list. The goal is to make self learning a habit. The way we create habits is by starting small, developing a regular routine, and then adding to it. So, focus on one goal.

Build it into your morning routine. One of the great things about adding self learning to your morning routine is that you do it first thing in the morning. You can’t get talked out of it during the day. Or skip it because you’re tired after work. So, if you’re concerned about procrastination, think about learning first thing in the morning.

Take some time during your commute. Speaking of morning routine, if you have a drive or ride into work or school, consider listening to a short podcast as your self learning. You could also do this on the way home. I’m not suggesting giving up entertainment. So, in between listening to S-Town and Slow Burn, rotate in a couple of career development podcasts.

Schedule it on your calendar. When I put something on my calendar, it gets done. For example, I’m facilitating a virtual seminar for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The platform I’ll be working on is Adobe Connect. I have scheduled some time to watch videos on Adobe Connect. Block off time for learning.

Create an evening routine that includes learning. I’ve always been a fan of morning routines and as time goes on, I’m becoming a big fan of evening ones as well. Especially when it comes to reading. I can have a nice cuppa tea and read one chapter. That’s it…one chapter a night. Before you know it, I’ve finished a book.

Make it a group activity. There’s no rule that says you have to do this alone. Designate time each day or week as self learning time. Everyone in the family gets an hour to go off and learn something. Maybe everyone can talk about what they learned afterward. You could do the same thing in your department at work. Or just with a group of friends. (Laurie Ruettimann has started an HR Book Club. Check it out.)

Ask your boss for 1 hour. Next time you have a one-on-one meeting with your boss, ask them if you can have one hour a week (or month) to focus on your own learning. Your boss might ask what you want to do with the time, so be prepared to answer. But there’s no harm in asking for a small amount of time. In fact, it demonstrates initiative.

While none of these are a substitute for classroom training or a professional conference, they do allow people to learn on a gradual basis. And that’s a good thing. And, if you’re like me, you have a long list of things you’d like to learn, the challenge is finding the time. Think about those small topics you’d like to focus on and start building them into your daily routine. That’s how they get done!

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while wandering around Boston Logan Airport after a Workforce Institute board meeting