How to Make Time for Learning and Development in Your Business
Making time to develop a new skill or learn about a new way of getting things done is quite tough to do. However, learning and development is important for business growth, so here are my top tips to make it happen.
How to Make Time for
Learning and Development in Your Business
As a business owner, you will already be well aware that the learning curve is steep and never ending. There is always something else you can improve on; there are always more skills to be learned and more knowledge to be acquired. However, your business already keeps you pretty busy, right?
So how do you make time for learning and development when time is already a bit on a scarce side?
There are two main things to consider. There is a mindset thing and then the taking action thing. Let’s take a look at both of these in more detail.
The mindset thing
Give yourself a break
It is very easy to constantly compare ourselves to other business owners. Wondering ‘how do they fit it all in’ or ‘how do they know how to do that?’.
From this point forward I want you to stop comparing yourself to others and work on your own journey. You have no idea what it really took for someone else to get to where they are now, so the comparison isn’t a fair one.
Make sure learning and development is about you and no-one else.
Maybe you’re part of an online learning programme with other business owners or even part of a club such as my Zen Productivity Club. Inside my club I am very quick to make sure that no-one labels themselves as ‘behind’. As long as some action is is being taken at whatever pace is possible then I am more than happy with the progress of each of my members. And the reason for this is that productivity and learning is personal.
The only time when this doesn’t work is if you buy a programme, don’t do any of the work and then complain that you’re not seeing results. If it was possible to improve my knowledge and skills just by purchasing a course or a book I would be a genius!
If you want to make a change then you need to do the work!
It’s all about the journey
Learning and developing is a journey. It will open up your mind to new things, provide you with new skills which will then allow you to access new parts of your life and business. Learning is a beautiful thing.
However, it becomes a lot less beautiful when we:
- Bully ourselves into learning
- Set unrealistic and unreachable learning goals
- Are mean to ourselves for not understanding something straight away
If you are regularly doing any of these things, then this also needs to stop now.
Learning doesn’t happen when:
- We are under extreme pressure
- There is no reward
- The self-imposed bar has been set too high
- We are over-tired, stressed out or totally overwhelmed
Learning does happen when we:
- Enjoy what we are doing
- Give ourselves permission to take time out for learning
- Allow it to take as long as it takes
- Find it rewarding
Think like a puppy
Think of yourself like a puppy at a doggy training school. To encourage the puppy to learn to be obedient and sit or come when his master calls, training is turned into a fun game followed by a reward. The puppy very quickly learns the commands of his owner and is rewarded for his efforts.
If you are currently beating yourself up for not making time for learning, for being too tired, for having too many other balls to juggle then you need to imagine how this would affect the puppy at the doggy training school.
If you took your tired, stressed out puppy to the park and shouted commands at him followed by scoldings for not paying attention, he is going get sick of that game very quickly. And all he will learn is that the park is a horrible place and you are a horrible owner.
The moral here is that if you make learning something you associate with negative thoughts or behaviours, then it’s going to make the whole process a lot harder.
The taking action thing
So how do we fit it all in?
There are two ways to look at making time for learning and developing.
- It’s done in addition to everything else you already do
- It’s done instead of something else you already do
Which option you choose will depend on your life and business commitments.
Make learning non-negotiable
In both cases, it’s important to make time for learning and development and make it non-negotiable.
To do this I recommend scheduling it into your weekly diary or planner.
If we make an appointment with a client, it’s important isn’t it? So to make sure we don’t forget our commitment we add it to our diary and maybe even set a reminder.
If learning more or developing a new skill is important to you, then this task should be treat the same way.
The mistake most business owners make
“when I get some free time this week I will……”
This is the mistake most business owners make. Learning and development is dropped to the bottom of the list and is only allowed to be completed if a certain set of circumstances occur such as:
- When I get this client work done.........
- When the kids go back to school.........
- When I have more time......…
- When I don’t feel so tired......…
Can you see what’s happened here?
It’s been turned into an impossible task as even if this set of circumstances was met, something else will just takes it’s place. Although we know we need to learn that skill, make time for that course or read that book we don’t seem to make time for it to happen.
It’s almost a form of self-sabotage.
- I mean, what if you fail?
- What if it’s a waste of time?
- What if I’m still not good enough?
Let me give you an example of learning and development in my own business
I have purchased a number of online programmes which will help me to learn and develop in my business. Now, although I have a number of programmes on the go, I am not working on them all at the same time as I would be spreading my focus too thin and not getting the benefit.
Pick ONE focus
So what I do instead, is keep track of the programmes and courses I have and make a decision on which one is the most valuable for me right now. This will be the area of learning and development I will focus on until it is complete. After which, I can move onto the next one.
Schedule time for learning
Next, I schedule time in for learning. So I take out my daily planner, and I schedule a couple of hours a week to run through my programme modules.
This time is non-negotiable, and I class myself as unavailable for anything else during this time.
How to make learning a part of your life
In business, we are always learning, but I think it’s really important to make it part of your daily life.
Here are my top tips:
- Don’t force yourself to learn - There is no point trying to learn something you don’t enjoy or forcing yourself to learn when you are over tired. Learning needs to fit into your schedule rather than being an extra layer of stress to your already busy life.
- Try little and often - We don’t often have the time to take a full day off to learn, and there is nothing wrong at all with little and often. You are still learning, developing and moving forward
- Change your environment - When I am learning, I like to be away from the office, so it doesn’t feel like work. For me sat in a different room or outside in the garden with a laptop, notepad and usually my cat works perfectly for me. I am more relaxed and find absorbing information my easier.
- Make it a habit - If you want to regularly improve, then making learning a habit is a great way to do this. You might consider having the same few hours set aside each week for this, and you will soon form the habit of learning at the same time each and every week going forward.
- Track your progress - Ticking things off the list is very rewarding. I like to make a list of my programme topics in my bullet journal, and as I complete a topic, I get the satisfaction of ticking it off the list. Ahhh bliss.
- Don’t set unrealistic goals - unless you need to learn something in time for a particular deadline, then the only limits you are placing on yourself are set by you. Saying ‘I want to complete Module 1 in 2 days’ and then not accomplishing it just hinders your future learning. So be kind to yourself when it comes to the demands on your time and your energy levels, and be realistic with what you have available.
- Remember you are only human - It’s not possible to always be ready to absorb and learn new things. If something isn’t making any sense because you are tired or have something else on your mind, then give yourself a break.
So there you have it, my top tips for making time to learn and develop new skills and knowledge in your business. Just remember, if this is important to you, then make sure you treat it in the same way you would any other important task.
Have a super productivity day.
Would you like to make learning and development part of your weekly routine?
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