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, you are not alone. Way too many entrepreneurs and seasoned business people short change themselves by discounting the curent and future value of professional development. Even large corporations do it! When revenue starts to decline and the bottom line starts to shrink, investment in professional development is the first to go.
The best way to change how you use your time is to understand the value of your time. As a start up, what you know and what you do is what ultimately determines whether you are successful or not. Ask yourself what's really important development-wise. How critical is it that you become knowledgeable and proficient with marketing. The answer is , VERY CRITICAL. Marketing, along with sales, are the only disciplines in business responsible for revenue generation so you need to know this stuff.
Next, look at how you are spending your time currently. If you account for everything you do on a calendar, you will be surprised at how much low level of inconsequential stuff you spend time on. If you want to blend in professional development training without adding more hours to your day, get really clear about what you do and what you will let go.
Third, although courses are fine to take, there are other methods of training and development that may work better for your situation. Do some research to find out what will provide the best training and time commitment for the cost.
Finally, if your intention is to transition your way from a job to your future business, create a plan that helps you stay focused. My son recently opened his own business and so far is doing quite well with it. He spent 18 months preparing so when he left his company, he was in great position to grow the business.
I hope this provides some insight into what you can do to use your time more wisely. If you want a playbook to guide you through this, I wrote one called 'ProFectiveness- The Art of Achieving What's Most Important to You'. http://www.growthsourcecoaching.com/profectiveness-the-art-of-achieving-what-is-most-important-to-you.html
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
Do you spend a lot of time in the car? If you do audiobooks are a great way to continue PD whilst on the move. I studied for a diploma in management whilst holding down a full time job and working on a startup on the side. I agreed with myself that the management course was important to me so I made time. I found it useful to plan my schedule a week ahead and built in 30-60 mins 3 or 4 times a week at a time when I could focus 100% on the PD, this tended to be at 9 or 10pm. I'm currently listening to the New Rules of Marketing and PR in the car and can recommend it. Good luck with your studies.
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.
Where you focus and how you manage your time are among the most critical skills to success as an entrepreneur.
Your question sounds a little soft. Meaning, what I hear is that you think, maybe these classes might help you make some kind of progress toward your goals but you're not totally sure and then again maybe not.
If it were the case that some specific class or another was going to directly address one of the key issues holding you back, then it would be easy to prioritize it above other opportunities. If, however, it's just one more stab in the dark that's just as good as any other stab in the dark, what difference does it make.
Entrepreneurship is scary and there's almost never a clear path. I get it. But the guiding force is your vision and clarity on where you want to go and what you need to get there. Focus on that and these sorts of decisions should come much more easily.
Hope this helps.
Try lynda.com. I learned a tremendous amount of practical useable skills for my freelance business while in the shower or driving in the car.
Marketing and sales is critical to your business. Therefore, your marketing and product development is essential to your business. This means BLOCK out the time in your calendar. Just do it.
Consider one-on-one business coaching. Often times the "Do It Yourself" method are not as successful as one-on-one coaching. This is because the "do it yourself" or self-study method is easily cut out of your schedule. But if you are making a commitment with a business coach or business mentor - you are more likely to take it seriously.
If you decide to take Do It Yourself classes or self-study online courses, make sure you have an study partner or accountability partner. Making commitments to someone other than yourself increases your success of actually blocking that time and investment.
Lastly, if its important to you - it needs to be on the calendar. Block out time to market your business; block time for exercise; block time to business network. Allow your day-to-day activities fill in the rest of the time AROUND the blocked/scheduled time. If you make these things your imperatives - you will have the time. Right now - you are just not blocking the time on the calendar - which allows everything else to take you time.
I understand business courses are helpful, but if you find it really difficult to squeeze it in, you might want to look up and bookmark articles for now to read every chance you get, starting with the topics you find most important to you. You can then flick through these articles while you're traveling or waiting for something. It only takes a few minutes, gives you new ideas and makes you a wiser entrepreneur one article at a time.
The only way to get it done is to sign up and pay for each course. Then you will want to get a return on your investment. One of the main reasons that start-up's fail is because the founder(s) typically have little or no business experience or any kind of a business education. Business is about Marketing. That is the first course to take !
You prioritize it. You don't need tricks or even a time management guy like me if you acknowledge that If you don't do it/cut it, you don't believe in it enough to need to do it. You want a clear life vision for who you are "developing" into and what does your business really need for that vision, then you can have weighted priorities, and manage your time. Maybe in a year you will ask "How do I fit in other things when I'm so committed to professional development?" Or not, your call.
Professional development is the first thing that you should add to your schedule.
Evaluate how you spend your time and carve some time for your personal development; as you learn more about what you need to know you will be glad you took the time to take the classes you need. An easy way to go about it, it take on line classes in the convenience of your office or home office.
When I started my MBA program I took one Marketing class then two classes. I have continued to take one to three day classes/seminars since graduating with my MBA from USC years ago.
It's one day or one-foot forward. The longest journey starts with the first step. Take it easy but start walking.
Here to help. Happy Thanskgiving.
Blocking out time for professional development is one of the most effective investments you can make. Have you read Stephen R Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People"? Here is a link: http://www.summary.com/aw/srcovey?gclid=CJaujqStrMkCFQwlvQod05AEzw The '7th Habit' is 'Sharpening the saw' which is about 'working on yourself'. We all have exactly 24 hours in a day. How we invest those 24 hours is the difference between an average life and an exceptional life.
First of all, stop calling it professional development. That makes it sound optional. Sounds to me like this is survival training. Without adequate marketing and innovation skills, you cannot survive, let alone thrive. Even if you are hiring other people to do these things for you, you must know enough to keep them productive and on target.
my recomendation is to either follow an "execution focused" on-line program (personally among the best I rank Thunderbird in Phoenix and Chartered Institue of Markeing in London) so to inoculate them in your spare time agenda, or even more effectively get the help on expert who does not simply provide advice on the decision to be taken, but even explains the background behind them.
I definitely avoid a "self-made" training.
For your reference I've published a couple of presentations that may give you a flavour of may wish to look for.
More than happy to discuss it separately.
All my Best,
Rob, One thing to remember is that EVERYONE has the same number of hours in a day. I automatically schedule periodic blocks of time just to learn more about my business. Another thing to consider is that a lot of professional development is offered online now and is paced so you can begin a course or workshop and finish at your leisure. I would consider setting aside time on a regular basis where you intentionally opt for some professional development activities. The more you learn, the better a business owner you will be.
My education and personal development came from reading books! Sounds a bit old fashioned ... and it works. The book that made it work for me The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It taught me that if I wanted to learn then I made time available. I set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal and completed her 12 week course. I followed this with The Artist's Way ay Work and have continued on. You can't make or manage time you can only control what you do with the time. If personal development is important then create time to give yourself a fabulous gift.
Remember the advice, if you work on your job, you'll make a living. If you work on yourself, you'll make a fortune.
Look at TheAvatarCourse.com. If you'd then like to get 45 minutes free information about it and a taste for it, contact me via LinkedIn or my email there.
Pieter Kark, MD
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.