How to Learn New Job Skills When You’re Busy and Overworked

You feel a bit stuck in a rut at work and you want to learn a new skill so that you can take on better projects, get promoted, or find a new job. But you’re crazy busy during the day and when you get home, all you want to do is put your feet up and relax.

You’re already using moments during your morning and afternoon commutes to read up on topics that you would like to become sharper at. Now it’s time to take more action, but you just can’t seem to find the time. Millions of people around the world are in the same predicament, but the problem is by no means insurmountable! It is more than possible to learn new skills while holding down a full-time job, even if you work long hours. Let’s talk about what you can do to defeat this issue.

Seek out short-term professional development courses

These days, there are tons of opportunities for bite-sized education. Webinars, full-day seminars, and self-paced online classes, are some of the great ways that you can learn your intended subject without sinking a lot of time into it. You don’t necessarily need to invest a ton of time and money going back to school, either. Rather, you can look for a super-targeted course that will provide you with a sturdy foundation to build upon. Major cities frequently hold classes on various topics at recreation centers, hotels, and convention buildings.

Say yes to new tasks

Be the first one to raise your hand and volunteer for challenges at work, even if it scares you. This can be particularly effective if you are new at the job. Quickly assess whether it will be possible for you to complete the task without help and if not, identify who you can enlist to assist. The only caveat is, you should consider passing if it is something that will distract you from other work that will be more important for you and the company, in the long run.

Ask your company to sponsor your education

Many times, especially in larger or long-established organizations, employees will have the opportunity to take classes or workshops on the company’s dollar. One reason why employers are often apt to pay for this is because it is mutually beneficial. You get the respect and security that comes with having an extra skill set and they get to use your new skill to help improve the company’s performance.

After you identify the training you would like to have, take note of how much the program costs (catch early bird prices, if you can), the dates and time, and how taking the course will benefit the company. Present this information to your employer and ask if they will be willing to send you to the training. If your employer refuses to help, don’t give up on the idea. Just work out another way to pay for the training. Whether it’s a scholarship, help from family, or you simply foot the bill yourself, you can accomplish it! Never forget that the employer does not hold the key to your future.

Use your lunch break for more than just scarfing burritos

If you have books or an online course associated with the topic that you are exploring, consider using your time during lunch to read information about the subject. Before you know it, you will have amassed a surprising amount of knowledge.

If the skill is directly related to your current job, you can immediately implement what you learned to your daily tasks. Please note that you should only use your break time to study if you can handle the continuous work; it won’t do anyone any favors if you burn out!

Look to another staff member for expertise

Think about the people who work around you. Is there anyone you know of who may have a skillset that you want to learn? For instance, if you’re interested in grant writing, seek out a person within your organization who has demonstrated proficiency in that area, and ask them to teach you the ropes. If you shadow them while they work with their skill, you could very likely learn from them without adding any extra hours to your workload.

There are many ways to learn new skills while you are busy with a job, so do not be discouraged by a seeming lack of time or energy. What appears to be a short term sacrifice will certainly pay off once your educational goals have been reached.