Taking time out for professional development and learning can seem impossible. Between your to-do list and management responsibilities, learning can be the last thing on your mind. However, if it’s been a while since you went to a professional conference, or caught a webinar, you may be missing out on vast opportunities. Here’s why taking time for professional development is far from a waste of time, and how you can make learning your new priority.
Why Take Time for Professional Development?
Find Out New Techniques
No matter your field, technology is changing drastically, and all the time. What worked two years ago doesn’t any more. And it’s up to you to find out why. Going to a conference, watching a webinar or even listening to a relevant podcast are all ways that you can stay up-to-date on trends in your industry, and avoid being left behind.
Build Your Network
Networking isn’t just about finding a job. Many professionals use networking as an opportunity to gain a sounding board in their industry or job function. This can be especially important for professionals who don’t have a colleague they can turn to in their company, or new managers looking for a mentor.
Bolster Your Confidence
Do you ever worry that your ideas lack merit? Maybe you feel undervalued by a boss or colleague. Working on your own professional development will squash these feelings, giving you the confidence you need to move forward. There’s nothing like knowing that you’re on the right track.
How to Make Time for Professional Development?
Make It a Priority
Americans tend to overwork. Did you know that we forfeit half our time off according to a recent study by Glassdoor? It’s a disturbing trend that is making its way into professional development as well. But it’s time to break that cycle. In this case, taking “time off” will only make you better at your job and more productive in the long-run, so professional development should be categorized as work, not as time off.
As you prepare your goals and projects each year, find and schedule relevant conferences and get approval right away. By blocking off this time in advance, you’ll find it’s much easier to keep your goal of making learning a priority. Outside of larger conferences, schedule time each week to focus on learning a new skill that will pump up your resume, whether that is through articles, podcasts or free webinars.
If you don’t have the budget for out-of-town conferences, focus on opportunities to learn close to home. What events are coming to your city, or are there virtual events you can attend from your desk? Even signing up for a subscription to a website like lynda.com can keep your skills fresh without the added expense of a conference.
Whether your goal is to network, learn a new skill or brush up on the latest technology, you’ll work more efficiently by pushing professional development higher on your to-do list. For more articles on management, leadership and more, sign up for our e-newsletter delivered monthly, directly to your inbox.