It sounds simple but setting aside time for your personal development can be a challenge. There’s always something more demanding on your time… that new deal that’s just landed, that project launch deadline or that big pitch meeting next week. So I thought it would be helpful to write an article about how to go about fitting in effective personal development time into your life…..
Make sure you have a personal development plan
Like any great achievement, it always starts with a great plan. Begin by thinking about your core objectives/goals and build out a plan from there. It’s doesn’t have to be war and peace but something that you can put into action during your development time. Having a basic plan will give you a purpose and baseline to challenge yourself on where you are heading.
The all importance of time
I know this may sound basic but you really do have to set aside the time. Part of the solution to making time is thinking about when in your schedule does it fit best. There’s no point booking your development time at 830am on a Monday morning when you’re consumed by planning for the week ahead or 530pm on a Friday night when you’re packing up for the weekend! Work out when in the week is the most optimum for you, mark out the time in your diary and do everything you can to stick to it. Your development slot might not need to be every week, it could be once a month but try starting with once a week for set 30 or 60 minutes and see how you go. The secret is finding out what works and getting into a rhythm. Everyone has a sweet spot and once you find it, it will become part of your work routine.
Monitor your personal development progress
To maximise the impact of your development time, you to set yourself some goals. I find it helpful to have a mix of realistic and stretch goals, this will help boost your confidence as you tick off the easier goals whilst working towards the stretch ones. To keep up the motivation, you should regularly review your progress against your goals set. Perhaps once a quarter, check in with yourself around what you’ve achieved. Either you will feel enthused by the progress being made or it will serve as a helpful reminder to adapt the plan if the results aren’t exactly what you want.
Make yourself accountable
Always ask yourself who is going to hold you to account? For some, you may feel motivated and confident in holding yourself to account. However, for others you might need some additional support to keep you on track. Once you have your objectives and plan in place, think about someone who can hold you to account regarding your development. This could be your line manager, a coach, a mentor, a friend or even a family member, but the main point to have someone who will hold you to account. You can always take this a step further with a line manager, a coach or mentor by involving them in the entire development process but finding the right person is the logical first step.
Partner with your manager (if you have one)
Always think about Involving you manager in your personal development journey. Hopefully your organisation will have a personal development requirement as part of your objectives but if not, make sure you discuss your development on a regular basis. A tight development partnership with your manager will ensure you achieve the right outcomes. If they are not aware of what you are looking to achieve, how can they help you?
In summary, I hope this article has proved useful in thinking about how best to carve our effective development time in your diary. To ensure sure you achieve those career goals, make development time your secret weapon. Best of luck…..
About the author
Tomas Mason is an experienced Executive Coach specialising in leadership development. He trained with Henley Business School and is accredited by the EMCC. Prior to coaching Tom was a senior leader in the financial services sector.