One of my SMEs mentioned today how she wants to learn more about Web 2.0 tools, but hasn’t made time for it. She knows she should; she knows it would help her do her job more effectively. But it hasn’t been a priority in her schedule.
She was surprised when I said that I have a recurring reminder on my to do list to set a goal for my own learning for the week. Having that reminder pop up every Monday morning means I always add some specific goal to my list for later in the week. Sometimes the “goal” is simply to attend a webinar; sometimes it’s to work on something in Captivate, Flash, or CSS. Sometimes it’s just to try out some new site or app. Last month, the Comment Challenge was my goal for each week. My blog reading is just part of my daily habits now, so I don’t count that towards this goal. I try to set a goal beyond my usual reading, commenting, and bookmarking.
I admit that I don’t always meet the goals I set for myself. Some weeks that goal just gets pushed back every day of the week until Friday afternoon, when I finally admit it won’t happen and postpone to the next week. But more often than not, I spend at least a half hour doing something specifically to improve my skills. Even if I don’t meet the goal, I’m thinking about what I want to learn next and looking for opportunities.
I started doing this at a previous job when I had my Franklin-Covey binder and followed those techniques to stay organized. I don’t follow it closely anymore, but the idea of “sharpening the saw” still influences how I plan my time for the week. I’ve been setting these goals for myself for several years, so it seems normal to me. I don’t think my SME had ever thought of it that way though, and I suspect I’m actually in the minority for setting aside the time each week.
That conversation has me wondering: What do you do to make time for learning in your schedule? Do you set goals for yourself or put it on your to do list? Does it just naturally happen as part of your job? Do you have a system that works for you? Do you focus just on formal learning, or do you consciously think about your informal learning too?
Please share what you do and how it works for you. I’m curious to hear other ideas.