Three tips for making time to learn when you have no time
National Library team tips on making time for your learning
By the Workforce Capability Development team, National Library of Australia
For many of us, lack of time is our greatest barrier to learning. While we know the importance and benefits of learning, in the face of our ever-increasing to-do list, learning can become more of a luxury rather than a necessity. While we have good intentions, taking the time out for learning can often feel counterproductive.
So how do we make time for learning when it feels like we have no time available? What are some practical strategies we can put in place to help support our learning experiences at work?
Here are 3 tips to help get you started!
Tip 1: Prioritise
The first step in making more time for learning is to acknowledge that your learning is not a luxury but an essential part of your role.
You make time by prioritising your own learning. By taking ownership of your own learning you not only make progress towards improving your skills but you will no doubt become more confident in your abilities.
Once you are determined to prioritise your learning, think about your learning goals.
• What capabilities would you like to develop?
• How might you best develop those capabilities?
Don’t forget to review your development plan and discuss your development priorities with your supervisor
Tip 2: Schedule some time
To avoid pushing learning to the bottom of your to-do list, why not set aside some time in your calendar to devote to your own learning?
This could be as simple as scheduling half an hour per week (or even per month to begin with) in your calendar to read an article or resource you have been meaning to get to. Or even taking take some time out to reflect on an experience and what you have learned from it. Talk to your supervisor about how you can carve out some time in your week or month to make this happen.
Once you have that time scheduled in your calendar, identify any barriers and distractions that may make it difficult for you to stick to your schedule. Do you need to step away from your desk so you aren’t tempted to pick up the phone when it rings? Close your email client so you are not distracted by notifications when messages arrive.
Don’t forget to tell your colleagues that you are focusing on your learning during that time to minimise interruptions. Better yet, involve your colleagues in your learning time sometimes so you can learn from each other.
Remember to use your best judgement when managing distractions. There will be times when something urgent comes up and you need to give that your full attention. If that happens, be sure to reschedule your learning as soon as you can so you don’t lose momentum.
Building learning into your regular work routine will help build a strong learning habit. Over time you will see a positive change in your skills and capabilities.
Tip 3: Reflect
Reflecting on an experience and what you may have learned from that experience is another way you can bring learning into your day-to-day work routine.
The University of Edinburgh defines reflective practice as: ‘the conscious examination of past experiences, thoughts, and ways of doing things.' The aim is to:
• understand more about yourself and the situation in order to bring meaning to it and
• inform your future decisions, actions and attitudes.
The APS Academy would like to thank the National Library of Australia’s Workforce Capability Development team for contributing this article and their support for Continuous Learning Month.