How can business people stay informed, current, even ahead of the competition when it comes to the best practices in their industry? Good time management skills help, but the world does not need another time management article. Assuming you know to set goals, prioritize, commit, etc. where can you find the information you need and the time to consume it?
Begin with finding time. My dad always said getting paid by the hour is a fool’s game because his most productive thinking was done in the shower and how can you bill for that? Time is elusive but it is there – for the committed seeker. Where is your hidden time to learn, grow, and remain relevant in your industry?
The hour long commute? The 20-minute dog walk? Time on the treadmill? You are seeking this time. Once you find it, you can familiarize yourself with the media that can maximize it.
Watch a video. While you’re preparing dinner, turn your laptop or smart phone on and check out Ted Talks at Ted.com. I like video Podcasts from “ITunes U”. You can download audio and video podcasts of lectures and tours – information from the best minds on the planet on a vast array of topics. Youtube.com is another source. An engineer I know regularly searches“customer retention” on YouTube to keep current on the lessons learned in other industries that are relevant to her profession.
Plug in to your iPod. You can listen in the shower, in the car, on a jog, etc. Audible.com is a great source of audio books, as is the public library. Talk radio is another option – you can stream much of it and listen at your convenience to shows you find relevant and entertaining. One personal favourite is “The Age of Persuasion” with Terry O’Reilly from CBC radio. In 45 minutes, they give a unique and entertaining perspective on advertising.
Old school reading works too. I only read the newspaper on line – I can download it to my Kindle or read it on my Blackberry and for me, this has been a revolution. My chronic punctuality means I am often kept waiting at an appointment, but I can now use that time to get current on the day’s events. With my twitter account @TaraLandes, I “follow” the New York Times and other traditional media outlets but also some of the gurus and thought leaders in my areas of interest. Because the postings are only 140 characters, I can quickly identify articles that I’d like to explore in more depth and click through to read them or use an app that effectively bookmarks them to read later.
Ask an expert for help. How often have you squandered your professional development time on what you already know, rather than learning something new? Whether it is engineers at project management seminars or marketing professionals learning about social media: There are new things to learn within your industry, but there is more potential for you to expand your perspective by learning from other industries. The marketer that sells to engineers could see the world through an alternative viewpoint if they attended an engineering conference. Likewise, that engineer could be far more appealing to her clientele with some social media knowledge. That is where a skilled business advisor can play a critical role in directing your limited time. A management consultant or accountant has broad experience in many lines of business. Ask them – where would they recommend you look to learn something new?
Be a lifelong learner. If you believe that knowledge can be powerful; if you have invested years of your life and bags of money pursuing education in your teens and twenties, then surely a weekly download and a conversation with an expert is worth the investment of your time. What’s holding you back?