Self Development When You Don't Have Time For Self Development
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
Oh sure, you want to learn and grow. You want to build skills to be a more valuable employee. You want to know new things. You want to become an expert. You want to develop more resources. Whatever. But in your time-crunched life, where are you supposed to find extra minutes, much less hours? Here are three ways:
One time-honored multitasking method is to listen to audio media while performing other intellectually undemanding tasks. You can do this while commuting to your job, walking your dog, exercising, having a meal, waiting in line and so on.
1. Audio books and self-development tapes have been around for decades. Today you can download many from the web. If you have a portable player, you can also get tapes and cd's from the public library. You can learn a new language, improve your dating skills, develop your elevator speech, prepare for a history exam -- well, you name it and there's a way to get it on some kind of media player.
2. Pod casts of articles, news, blogs. This is growth resource is a growing phenomenon. (Yes, pun intended.) Much of the news media has been making audio casts available for a while. And now many websites and blogs are offering audio versions of their articles.
Lunch hour power.
You need to take a break to eat lunch not only because your body and brain function best with regularly scheduled nutrition, but also because it helps your performance to stop from time to time and refresh yourself mentally during most tasks. If you can use your break time for self development and learning, so much the better.
1. Brown-bag lectures. Over the last twenty years or so, I've been happy to see that many companies arrange for expert presentations on a wide variety of topics to be given in the employee lunch room or cafeteria. If your company provides this, take advantage. If it doesn't, can you find a way to get the program instituted? Most often the presenters do the presentations as a free service, just as part of making themselves known in the community.
2. Make own roundtable. In a number of places, employees have formed lunchtime book discussion groups. But your roundtable can be on any subject. Just find other compatible employees who want to share opinions, experience and knowledge.
3. Toastmasters® lunch time meetings. Toastmasters International has meetings at all sorts of times and is one of the best organizations I know that will help you develop your communications and leadership skills. If you can't find a group that meets a lunch near you, you'll probably be able to find a breakfast meeting.
4. Peer coaching on your own. You don't need to start an entire group to use your lunch time for self-development -- you can find just one other employee with whom you can exchange coaching in your different areas of knowledge.
Leisure and learning.
Use your dates, weekends and vacation time for multiple purposes.
1. Dates and outings. Whether you are single and dating or married and looking for shared activities, why not make your activities enlightening as well as enjoyable. I was fortunate to grow up in the Washington, D.C. area, where there are museums, galleries and historical sites galore. So a great evening out could include a visit to the National Gallery to enjoy fine art, a meal in their café, and a stroll by the Lincoln Memorial to enjoy the lighted image of the Washington Monument on the Reflecting Pool. Of course, you have to have an agreeable partner for that kind of activity, but most cities have such activities available.
2. Learning vacations. Use vacation time to go interesting places and do interesting things that help you learn and grow. You can join an archeological dig. Take a Russian historical tour arranged by a national museum. The Smithsonian, for example, has all sorts of interesting working and learning trips available to anyone from anywhere. Once you research the topics and trips available from various sources, you'll be amazed at the breadth of the offerings.
3. Adventure weekends and vacations. Go train in white water rafting. SCUBA dive the great barrier reef with a guide. Explore caves with an expert on cave ecosystems. Take a survival training course in the forest. Shake up your life with new and exciting experiences. Make a video log of riding the ten best roller coasters in America. Find new perspectives on a monastic retreat in the mountains -- perhaps in Tibet.