How can I fit in professional development into my busy schedule?
I have been working on a startup on the side and keep thinking that it might be helpful for me to take some business courses, particularly around marketing and product development. However, it is the first thing that I always cut out of my busy schedule. How do others fit in professional development?
Rob - it really comes down to a mindset. I train managers for my living. So many companies say "we don't have time for training," when, in fact, the training actually saves many hours per week. My 4 hours per month actually saves most people 4 hours per week. Obviously, they have to do what they are taught to get that benefit, but it is there for the taking.
So for you, you have to get your mindset changed to, "if I get good training, then in one week (or two weeks or month) I will have much more time freed up because I will be much more efficient/effective in those areas that I was trained in." When you get yourself to that point, and assuming the training IS good, then in reality, over the next several months, you'll have saved hours and hours of time that you currently think you can't give up.
Rob, Good to know other people are going thru the same thing! And kudos to you for wanting to keep learning because if we get content, then we will fall behind and are not doing justice to our employees and company. A while back, I had the best of intentions to keeping up with all the readings I wanted to but it just started to get overwhelming and catching up the weekends was not doing the trick and at the end of the day, the creative part of my brain would just not function and I'd put this task off.
So I what I ended up implementing for myself a couple years ago was to dedicate the first 30 minutes of every day (before I check email or do anything else) to sit down at my desk with my coffee and read over some of the links/articles I saved up. And then combining this with doing some readings on Saturday and/or Sunday morning has really done the trick for me. It's also a nice way to start every day.
And if you are looking for some good people to learn from, I actually just created a video and blog post that lists out some really awesome experts that have helped keep me on the cutting edge. You can read the blog and watch the video here and I hope it helps you in some way > http://www.magnificent.com/magnificent-stuff/best-marketing-advice
There is a few things you may want to consider when it comes to personal/ professional development.
If you have only time in the evening or say a few hours per week/ over the weekend, then Steven Freeman is giving you a good option. Online courses are quite handy and you could fit them around your schedule. And there is even plenty of courses now that even have tutoring included depending on your own needs.
Another aspect might be to consider a time management expert, somebody who can help you clear the schedule (or better so that it makes sense). You'd be surprised how many businesses are suffering from inadequate time management (even though they believe they are good at it). Somebody with the skill to help you or better coach you in the direction to manage your time more effectively and efficiently.
Once this is sorted, you probably would have additional time resources available that you could then take to fill with courses (online/ offline), additional coaching or even just some family time.
A proper time management coaching would normally be once a week (or to your own preference) for an hour of coaching. This could ultimately free up 2 - 5 hours per week if not even more (depending on you of course). Don't hold me to it though, it really depends on your own schedule. I have seen time management miracles happen and so far, every client that I introduced to time management found at least 2 hours per day by simply making their schedule more effective. (Just a note, I'm not a time management expert, I only bring one of my colleagues in to coach my clients, if they can't handle the workload that I provide them with...- my business focus is sales, but because of the way I work with my clients, I thought I can provide you with some experience that I've had with time management coaching - If you would like to talk to this person, I'm happy to provide you with her details. She is based in Ireland though and would only coach through Skype).
When it comes to personal and professional development, it is important to go with your own preference of learning. If you are easily distracted for example by email or any other work that you do when you try to focus on online learning, then I would suggest to stay away from online courses for the time being. However if you are really great in keeping focused on an online learning tool or you could simply study for 10 min here and there and if this is not affecting you at all, then online might be a good solution.
Personally I am a big fan of offline courses, coaching 1 to 1 etc. I can learn better either on a 1 to 1 basis or in a class room environment. I can coach online, but I cannot focus on online material and learn this way. Everybody is different and in the end it all depends on your own learning preferences.
I hope this is a bit helpful.
All the best
Find online courses that you can undertake at your own pace and schedule. Then you are not limited to evening classes in your local area.