Monday, March 7, 2016

Upskilling your upskilling skills. Part 3: The Schedule

Working in an industry that is moving at the speed of light requires a lot from us. We need to stay updated on current technology, while at the same time foreseeing what the next big thing will be and making sure we learn what is needed to join the fun. Not an easy task when you have a full time job, a family and a social life.

I've spent the past three years fine tuning my upskilling skills, figuring out which ways of learning suit me best, looking at the available tools out there and creating a schedule and a set of goals that will fit my daily routine. In this blog series, I want to share my thoughts and findings with you, hoping you'll become as addicted to learning as I am.

Upskilling should be voluntary
Many believe that upskilling is all about becoming better at what you do and to some extent that is true, but upskilling is also about a lot more than that. It's about finding motivation and inspiration through knowledge, and letting that knowledge motivate you even futher. This will only be possible if you're able to create a schedule that fits your daily routine and doesn't make your life off-balance.

Done incorrectly, upskilling will drain your energy and leave you gutted with guilt for not getting things done. However, if you're able to upskill correctly, it will boost your energy and leave you wanting more. For this to be possible, upskilling has to be voluntary. Don't do it because your boss tells you to or because your colleague is doing it, do it because you genuinly want to learn and improve. 

How on earth do I fit one more thing into my schedule?
Being a mother with two children, two dogs, a full time job, voluntary work, and a social life, I know all about the difficulties of keeping a household on track while delivering your best at work and spending time with those you love. Exhaustion can sometimes be an understatement.

So how do I make time for upskilling? I don't. I don't make time, I spend the time I usually waste on nothing.

Think about how much time you waste every day. Those 15 aimless minutes of surfing while eating breakfast, 20 minutes on the bus on your way to the office, 10 minutes waiting for your kids when you pick them up from some after school activity, 15 minutes sitting outside their bedroom door trying to get them to go to sleep. That's an hour of "wasted" time every day. That's an hour you could spend on upskilling. And it doesn't have to be as much as an hour a day. You can spend 10 minutes a day and still achieve a lot, as long as the time you spend fits into your daily routine. 

Don't overdo it
These days, it sometimes feels like everyone is overachieving, giving 110% of their effort all the time. They're running from one project to another, from one meeting to the next, bragging about everything they got done, complain about the things they didn't. The good thing is: That won't work when it comes to upskilling.

Overachieving when upskilling will leave you learning A LOT the first couple of weeks or months, and then the learning experience will end completely as you won't be able to stay motivated when pushing yourself too hard for extended periods of time. A great learning experience should leave you wanting more and you should look forward to picking up where you left off. That is only possible if you know your limitations and take things slowly.

When the schedule falls apart
I've had times when I've overdone upskilling. Suddenly it feels like a chore, something that has to be done, not something I want to do. When this happens, I take a step back and I take a break for a week or two. I hit the pause button, and I alter my own expectations before I pick up where I left of.

At some point your schedule will fall apart. The entire family gets the flu, you have an important due date coming up at work, your extended family needs you to be there for them. When this happens, you hit the pause button on upskilling. And you don't feel bad about it. Your hear that? Don't beat yourself up for not being able to upskill as much as you'd like. Because life happens and you should let it. Hit pause on upskilling and when you're ready, you can keep on going. Hopefully, with new energy and motivation. 

Wrapping it up
Upskilling is not something you make time for, instead you spend the time you're currently wasting on unimportant things. As upskilling should be voluntary, it's up to you to decide how much time you'd like to spend without having to alter your daily routine too much. Knowing your limitations is key to succeeding, and if you're able to do that, upskilling will give you motivation and inspiration to keep on going. 

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