Over the years I have watched my colleagues in many different fields and realized there are those people who attend conferences, present at conferences, network with others, read journals, and work at their own growth and knowledge base to improve services to their clients. And then there are others who work as if they have “reached their professional pinnacle”.
It has always been important to me to be the former and maybe it is because I am a huge extrovert and I process information out loud, but I do know it has always been critical for me to learn more so I can do my job better. This has meant reading professional journals (hard to find the time), attending conferences (hard to find the money), taking classes (hard to find the time and money), and networking with other like-minded professionals (sometimes hard in a rural state like Maine).
What I’ve found over the years is that most of the people who really WANT to do some of these activities are busy people, very busy people. So how do you find the time?
One way is to get / stay organized and carve out time each week. When I was working a more typical 40 hour work week, I had a standing “appointment” in my calendar on Mondays at 4pm to read the Chronicle Of Higher Education or a journal of my choice.
Did I do it every week? No. But I can tell you I did it frequently and I always felt better when I took that 15 minutes out of a busy day to read something that often gave me that broader perspective that I needed. It was uncanny how I gravitated to articles that seemed to address a current issue I was having in my work life. Perspective is so important.
The reason I call this blog “Take 15 minutes” is because that is often all you need to read an article but it is also the average time to watch a TED Talks. I have now added a list of recommended TED talks to my To Do list and I try to squeeze one of them in each week.
I also use Feedly.com which helps me organize the blogs, newspapers, and online articles by categories so I can do a quick view of my Feedly and select the articles that I want to read / peruse quickly. Another great time saver in my busy world that keeps me on top of current news.
What do YOU do to stay current?
Can YOU find 15 minutes each week for your professional development?
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a monthly newsletter for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
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Rich Grant says
What a great idea to schedule this sort of thing. You could say the same thing about exercise. It would be pretty easy to take 15 minutes to walk every day. In this case, you’re talking about exercise for the mind. Good blog, Jim
Jim Peacock says
Thanks Rich. There is a lot of research out there on how simply walking daily can positively affect peoples health and I truly believe the same rationale plays into our intellectual growth as well.
For too many people it feels overwhelming…. I have to go to a conference… don’t have the time or money etc… when you can literally take 15 minutes to read a journal or watch a TED Talk and you WILL feel better.
Scott Woodard says
Jim…Great post! I’ve really been surprised at the participants in our LinkedIn workshops who claim that they just don’t have the time to keep current or be active on social media. Yet these same people are concerned about progressing in their careers. We know that skill mastery is critical to remaining viable in one’s work – there will be no excuse for not knowing how.
Continuous improvement – on-going learning – is a hallmark of career proficiency and progression. Moreover, it’s becoming more prevalent for individuals to take responsibility for their own learning in their field, as organizations continue to reduce employee career development budgets and programs.
So the bottom line is that in order to maintain currency and gain proficiency we have no choice but to integrate continuous improvement/learning into our lives…we have to make the time. Those that don’t will be left behind.
martha roberts says
Time management is a weakness for me because I transition with difficulty if I am engrossed in something. I have learned to carve my Sunday mornings into my time. I get up very early, a habit generated from ‘mommyhood’. The house is quiet and I read. I read all sorts of topics from news to items that spark my interest. However, I generally start with topics that make me more self-aware in my teaching/coaching/facilitating roles. Websites as , and most recently am perusing Pat Quinn’s newest book Ultimate RTI. In order to make me more effective, I need to meet the individuals where they are at; this resource is invaluable when implementing practices for differentiated learning and translated very well (I would think) to CDF toolbox. Have fun!
Jim Peacock says
Great points Scott.
It is why “job security” is no longer a part of our world anymore. It is now “career security” and we are responsible for our own futures. We really do live in a “free agent” work force these days and we each need to recognize it and make / keep ourselves current.
Jim Peacock says
Thanks for sharing your “Sunday mornings” with us…. we are all busy but we have to find our own way to carve time out. Those websites look like great resources for educators and great ways to stay current. If you want to write me a short review of Quinn’s book, I might include it in a future newsletter.
Note: for some reason it hyperlinked the 2 websites together—- copy and paste them separately into a browser.
Cynthia Edmonds says
Great post, Jim. I see this all the time in both of my work worlds of higher ed and yoga/wellness and even more so among friends and acquaintances. My motto for the last twenty years has been “I will learn something new every day” and it’s always true. First, you must be open- to learning, to new ideas, to asking for help and more information. As soon as you think you’re an expert, you’re already flatlining. Fifteen minutes a day is very manageable for everyone.
Jim Peacock says
thanks for jumping in. Learning something every day, that is do able for sure. You think about children and how much they learn every day…. why wouldn’t we want to do that as well?
It just takes a real commitment on each of our parts to say “this is important” and then block it off in our calendars.
Now that I’ve said this, I can’t say that I do it all the time, but I try and as you can see with my book reviews (click on BLOG and Book Reviews is a drop down) I love to read.
Jennifer Manhoff says
I find that I am an insatiable life long learner and I build reading and having meaningful discussions into my everyday life. There is enough time but we choose every second what we do with it. I subscribe to LinkedIn groups and follow LinkedIn leaders to be sure I get the information I want in my inbox every day. I also read for pleasure but I allow myself a 1 to 1 ratio; for every fiction book I read I must then read a non-fiction book (although I’m currently on a non-fiction role)! As for meaningful discussions, I connect with colleagues and attend a chamber event once a week. Instead of work, it is fun! It’s just a label anyway.
Karol Taylor says
I don’t mean for this to sound smarmy, but I take the online courses Jim offers. I can participate asynchronously, which is convenient for me, and Jim makes them personable. The courses broaden my perspective on career topics, and I enjoy participating with people from other geographical areas.
Jim Peacock says
@Jennifer. I too love to read a variety of books and although I don’t have a 1:1 ration I do something similar. Right now I am finishing The Third Chapter by Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot to help my understanding of working with people as they transition to “life after full time work”. But I can’t wait to get into my next book on the Doctor who worked for the Detroit Red Wing hockey team for 50 years 🙂
Jim Peacock says
it has been a pleasure to have you in both my OL seminars so far, I’ve learned from you and have enjoyed our online discussions. Thanks.
Sheryl Eldridge says
The initial post and responses confirm the need of ongoing learning. I have incorporated my love of reading into my small business concept which will allow me to obligate myself to read the print magazines I reference so that I can share my discoveries with others. This will have a huge impact on me focusing on reading the magazines more promptly as they are received so that I can share with my intended audience.
With all the changes that are taking place, we will get left behind if we don’t continually attempt to learn each and every day.