3 Simple Steps to Every Day Professional Development
There are companies who provide professional development for their employees.
More power to those who do.
If that's your employer - take full advantage of it. Soak it in and wring it out for all it's worth. While the number of companies giving opportunity for professional development is on the rise, a surprising percentage of employees don't take them up on the offer (unless it's mandatory training).
Many don't feel they have enough development opportunities, or would like more, or are self-employed and don't feel they have the time, resources, or wherewithal.
If that's you, something needs to change.
In fact, I'm of the mindset that development can't just be a once-per-year seminar or conference. Development needs to happen on a weekly, or even a daily basis in order to be most effective.
And figure out a way to professionalize every day.
Here are a few suggestions.
1. Take control of your day.
You have to figure out a way to take control. I realize many jobs give you little control of how you spend your time each day. That said, I'm suspicious most of us have more control than we think. Setting aside just 30 minutes of work time every day for your own personal development will make an amazing difference. However, you have to find your 30 minutes. Find it. Stake it out. Block it off on the calendar. Guard it like a pile of money. The thing most needed in order to professionally develop on a regular basis is time. Find it, then protect it. It's in your day someplace.
2. Figure out your learning style.
Do you learn best by reading? Listening? Watching videos? This is important. Take a quick assessment. (They're all over the Internet. This one has a good overview and a quick and easy quiz.) Once you know how you best learn, you can then choose your material and a delivery system.
3. Choose the right things.
Now it's time to figure out what to do during the 30 minutes of blocked off time every day. Choose books with field-appropriate topics, productivity, or business. It's amazing how quickly even a slow reader can get through a book with 30 focused minutes daily. (Key being focussed. Turn off the phone. Turn of email notifications. Focus on reading and nothing else.) I've recently read books on sales, the DR Congo, personal productivity, and creativity in order to develop myself into a better employee for my day job. I read writing and photography craft books in order to get better at my freelance work. Since I am a high auditory learner, these books are often in the form of audio books. I also listen to a variety of podcasts on related subjects.
Another great tool is video course sites like Udemy or Lynda.com. I'm a member of Lynda.com and have learned how to edit video, do better web design, take better photos, tell better stories, use Excel, and have taken a refresher course on Microsoft Office. Totally worth the small monthly price tag.
We live in a day when nearly everything there is to know is at our fingertips. Your smartphone is more powerful than the computer that put someone on the moon.
Surely, in light of that, we can figure out professional development.
Choose to get better. It is the only way forward.