How to make time for learning

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Ah. There it is. The great big elephant in the room.

It’s staring you right in the face, surrounded by the myriad of multicolored to-do sticky notes that engulf your workspace. Not this elephant again. Not the training elephant.

Often times, training can feel like the elephant in the room. You know it's there. You know it's important. But acknowledging it means you have to make the time to do it—and you want to, it’s just, those to-dos… And when you're making headway on that multicolor monster of sticky notes, it’s hard to look away from the beast and deal with the elephant; stopping in your tracks to train can feel counterproductive.

But it’s time to think about training as a career necessity, not an obligation. Think of your career as a bank account: training is a smart investment in your own professional growth. And beefing up your skills via ongoing learning adds to your value as an employee, and increases your earning capacity.

What you might not know, though, is training can also make you more productive. A recent study we conducted showed that people who trained just one hour per week saved 1.8 hours per week through productivity gains—that adds up to a grand total of 83.7 hours a year! So that precious time taken away from the sticky note monster is time well-spent, which pays dividends in the long run.

Actually making it happen though? A bit easier said than done. Here are three strategies to help you make time to learn:

Designate time

All the good intentions in the world won't make training happen unless you set aside specific time to complete it. To avoid pushing learning to the back-burner, block out a specific time in your schedule to train. If you truly don't see any give in your schedule, talk to your manager about what other daily meetings or tasks could adjust to carve out time. If taking a whole day or half day away isn't feasible, split up training tasks into mini-sessions that you could knock out bit by bit over lunch, or even on your commute home. 

Make learning a part of your company’s culture

Managers and C-Level execs set the tone for workplace culture, but don’t underestimate the role you play as well. Show your leaders that you're interested in training by asking about opportunities. Speak up if you have skills or knowledge that you can teach others on your team. Likewise, ask coworkers to teach you something that falls under their area of expertise. Brainstorm what training opportunities might be a good fit for you specifically and bring them to the table during your next goal-setting meeting with your manager. 

Reward yourself

Instead of complaining about not having enough time to train, bring some positive reinforcement into the equation. Ask your manager to take the lead with a reward for those who complete training, or designate your own—however small—and follow through.

Learn more about how to find time for training, Discover specific ideas on how to tackle it in our guide.

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