How to set aside time for self-study while working full-time – experts advise

I realized the need for constant training and improvement of my qualifications back in 2004, when I tried to change my field of activity and find a decent paid job. Then I bought the course that was relevant to me and solemnly skipped it. Then there was a series of interviews and refusals. What conclusion did I draw? If I want to be competitive, I have to form a habit of learning and gaining knowledge constantly. The speed of release of new technologies, frameworks and methodologies is increasing and is incomparable with what it was even 10 years ago. The requirements for specialists in all spheres are increasing. I also noticed that knowledge in related areas is required – it all depends on the goals that you set for yourself.

According to a research paper on retention in online courses, 40 to 80% of users drop out before completing the course. What advice can I give to make self-development and self-education effective, and getting new knowledge and skills become a habit?

First tip. Form a learning goal. One of the most common ways of formulating goals is SMART. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do it the first time. The goal should be: Specific, Measurable (Mesuarable), Achievable, Relevant, Time bound, and also controlled. For example: target <устроиться на позицию тимлида и получать достойную зарплату>… Here’s an example of how it might sound.

  • What exactly do I want to achieve? – I want to get a job as a team lead.
  • How to measure the achievement of the goal? – My new salary is 30% higher than the previous one.
  • What can be done to achieve it? – Take the course “Course Name”, read the “List of Books” and find a new job.
  • When will I reach my goal? – In two years.
  • How will I control that I am on the right track? – I will update my resume every three months, add my new skills and knowledge to it, apply for vacancies.

It has been proven based on numerous studies that people do not really learn until they have a goal, and therefore no value in learning.

Second tip. It is necessary to study regularly, breaking training down into weekly goals. It will be great if you put the study time on the calendar.

Third tip. Remember that difficulties cannot be avoided, but they can be prevented and mitigated. Only you understand what can make you postpone training. Therefore, if you miss, then set aside more time for the next day, a week – to return to the rhythm.

Fourth tip. Man is lazy by nature, and our brain does not like to waste resources for the formation of new neural connections, since any experiment, from the point of view of the brain, is a danger. Resistance will arise. Track this state and “remind” your brain that self-education is not a danger, but a new opportunity. Only you know yourself enough to find the right levers and resources for self-education.

Fifth tip. Enjoy small successes that bring you closer to your goal. Many online platforms break courses into sessions of 5 to 30 minutes.

Sixth tip. Create a comfortable learning space for yourself. If you are studying in a group, do not hesitate to share your impressions and ask questions.

Seventh tip. At first glance, it may seem that you have absolutely no time for self-education. Recreate your day. I’m sure you will find time slots that you can use for training. For example, every morning I get to work within 40 minutes on the subway: the first half of this time I read, and the second half I look at online courses. By disassembling your schedule, you will find time – be a little more critical of yourself. Take the Learn to Learn course or read a book on the topic. I loved the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. You will find that there are more than enough options.

Eighth tip. It will be great if your studies are related to your work and direction or borderline. Practice will allow you to apply and consolidate the knowledge gained, otherwise it will quickly fade away.

And finally, the top tip: get started!

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