Regardless of your job, its hard to find time to develop your own skills. Maybe your day is spent going to meetings or answering phone calls and email. At the end of the day the last thing you want to do is dig out that development plan you put together six months ago.
And there is the rub…you are so consumed with the day-to-day you are neglecting your own career development. Focusing on the day-to-day is costing you future job opportunities, salary and work experiences.
What’s a person to do?
- Identify what you want to do next. Stay in the same field? Same job in a different field? Different industry?
- Identify the knowledge/skills/experience you want to build. This can be done any number of ways. Reading industry or professional trade magazines gives you insight into the direction your profession is heading. This can help you prioritize the skills you want to build.
- You can also take a look at websites such as the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook or Onet. The BLS Occupational Handbook provides information about the future outlook of your job, while Onet describes thousands of jobs from a high level overview to detailed skill information.
How Do I Find the Time?
- Recognize You Have a Problem: First realize you are in a vicious cycle that is counter-productive. Acknowledging the problem is the first step towards finding a solution
- Just Say No: Tell yourself that every email does not need to be responded to within five minutes. I know people (and have done this myself) who literally spend all day long responding to emails. Between meetings and email they have no time to tackle anything that is long term or strategic in nature.
- Maybe your problem isn’t email, maybe it is the serial interrupter who can’t do their job without asking you a question every hour. Or maybe it is your phone ringing off the hook constantly. Regardless, you get the idea…just say no.
- Put in some extra hours – Yes I did just write that. Although it seems common sense, some people still resist the extra hours necessary to develop themselves. Many companies promote personal development with time and/or money. But countless others can’t or won’t. Developing yourself may cost your own money and your time outside of work.
- Prioritize – Start with prioritizing how you spend your day. What are the critical things you are working on? What must be done? What can be pushed aside? Maybe this includes some delegating. Then take a look at your life outside of work, where do you spend most of your time? TV? volunteer activities? Playing video games? What can you cut? How much time will that give you? This final step is about evaluating where you spend your time and making deliberate decisions about how to spend that time.
What about you? How do you find time to focus on your career and block out all the noise?