Running my own business continues to be a real learning experience for me. Everyday I learn different ways of doing things, or tackle new challenges that I’ve never even had to think about before – being my own IT manager for example has been a somewhat interesting experience!
However most of what I’m learning is ‘on the job’. What I’ve noticed I miss about commuting into London every day is allocated time to read, learn and reflect. I certainly don’t miss catching the 7.07am from Theale in the mornings but being on the train for two hours a day caused me to ringfence that time and use it productively. Now I’m working from home, I tend to get up and pretty much start working straight away. It took me a while to realise that I wasn’t getting through my resources in the same way. Books, blog posts, articles and items I’d favourited on Twitter were all languishing half finished.
So thinking back to what I did previously and also inspired by initiatives like ‘Find 15’ which Stephanie Dedhar has undertaken, I’ve decided to implement my own system of KPD points. They work in a similar (albeit less formal) way to CPD points. These are Kate’s Professional Development points. I get to choose how I acquire them and to be honest there’s no real rules about what I use them for. It could be industry knowledge, it might be copy writing skills. But just having a name for this activity gives me the impetus to take some time out of my day – whether that’s early morning, lunchtime or evening – to read or watch a video, learn and reflect. It also gives me a code to put on my timesheet (a self imposed record of my activity) so if I want to, I can see at the end of every week how much time I’ve spent on my own continuing professional development.
Since implementing this system (I use the term loosely) I’ve got through a work related library book, finished a Kindle book (The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, very good) caught up on some blogs and favourites, figured out some new things in WordPress and done a whole pile of research for a presentation I’m delivering at the end of this month. I wouldn’t say I’m spending two hours a day on it as I might have done on the train, but giving myself some structure has definitely helped. It’s almost like I’ve given myself permission to make sure that focusing on my own professional development is still important.
And that’s what we’re all up against, no matter what we do for a living. Taking time out to learn can be a challenge and one we can end up feeling guilty about as the emails sit unanswered in our inbox. But it should be time well spent that we’re investing in ultimately becoming more knowledgable and hopefully better at what we do.
Interested to hear your thoughts on how you fit in time to learn in a busy working day…if at all?!