How to Make Time for Learning at Work Every Day

Say what? No time to learn?

That’s like saying you don’t want to be up to speed with what’s happening in your industry, profession or even your market — the same one you’re servicing but I get it. Work is busy. People are busy. You’re busy.

When your priority is to get through hundreds of emails, attend back-to-back meetings or finish that PowerPoint presentation that your boss asked you for the umpteenth time, making the time to switch your brain from ‘busy mode’ to ‘learning mode’ seems too hard.

Instead, you think about the work that you will need to catch up on — the easy stuff, the busy work, things you can ‘tick off’.

Learning seems like hard work so why even bother to make time for it?

Let’s face it. You know and I know that our work is changing every day. You’ve gone through constant changes to that project plan, your customer complaints are up and the pressure to hold onto and keep your job is immense.

However, if you don’t actively make some time to intentionally think and reflect what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how you could improve your work, it means you’re going to be behind your peers, competitors, customers, and market.

You’re going to be behind the eight ball and in today’s competitive environment, it’s a place to easily fall into.

In fact, this may be keeping you up at night.

So what do you do?

Incorporate Learning into Your Work Routine — Every. Single. Day

If you’re someone who would like to be up to date with the latest trends in your business or industry, the first thing you can stop doing is look at external training courses as the solution to every need. By the time you find the right training course that fits with your particular needs, budget and time commitments, it’s likely the information in it would have changed anyway.

Things move THAT fast now.

Instead, look closer to home. Look at your own workplace and in particularly, the people in your company, the activities that they’re doing at work and the networks and communities that they’re tapped into inside and outside the company.

It’s more than likely that the answer to your problem is not in a training course or hidden in some SharePoint file directory that never has seen the light of day. It’s in one of your colleagues heads. Your challenge is to find that colleague. And guess what? You can only find that colleague if you speak up and start sharing what you know.

Treat the workplace like your own personal learning environment. After all, we spend eight hours per day — sometimes more — at work. We’re faced with ongoing challenges, opportunities, ideas, people, projects and scenarios. In each one, we’re learning something but may not be actively thinking and reflecting about the process of how we went about completing that project plan, solving that customer enquiry or finding information on the intranet because we do it automatically.

So with each activity, event, interaction, workshop or meeting you have at work, ask yourself these three questions and then SHARE the answers openly to your colleagues or even better, through your social tool of choice such as an enterprise or public social network:

“What did I learn from this?”
“How can what I learned help others?”
“Who else needs to know what I learned?”

Learning is “acquiring knowledge or skills through experience” and we have many different experiences at work every day.

It only takes five minutes every day to ask, answer and share the answers to the above questions to others.

Learning need not be difficult or onerous and by taking an intentional approach to incorporate it into your work every day is not only smart, it helps you promote your expertise and starts conversations that help you find solutions to your business problems.

Have you got any other ideas on how can you make your workplace into a learning experience?