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Making Learning a Daily Habit for Career Success



In today's ever-changing career landscape, the ability to continuously learn and adapt is more important than ever before. As the provided text by the authors highlights, careers are becoming increasingly "squiggly" - with more frequent role changes and fluid development in new directions. To thrive in this environment, developing the capacity for ongoing learning is vital. Adaptive, lifelong learners are invaluable assets to organizations. By making learning a consistent, daily habit, we can increase our readiness for new opportunities, build resilience for inevitable challenges, and take charge of our long-term career success.


Today we will explore how to make learning a seamless part of our everyday work and lives. The long-term dividends for our careers will be invaluable.


Making Time for Focused Learning


The first technique is to create dedicated time for focused learning every day. With the busyness of most schedules, learning is often pushed aside. By deliberately blocking off time, even just 30 minutes per day, we can make space for concentration on acquiring new skills and knowledge.


For example, allocating the first 30 minutes of your workday to focused learning can help you start each day proactively. You could utilize this time to read industry publications to stay on top of trends in your field, take an online tutorial to build technical skills, or curate a reading list of books and articles for professional development. Establishing learning time as part of your morning routine makes it more likely it will actually happen, compared to trying to fit it in ad hoc during the day.


Similarly, setting aside 30-60 minutes in the evening for learning activities can be worthwhile. Uninterrupted evening learning time could involve more intensive online courses, listening to educational podcasts during your commute, taking notes on books related to your career aims, researching ideas and innovations in your industry, and more. Blocking off focused learning at the beginning and end of your day helps sandwich other priorities and make learning a consistent habit.


Integrating Microlearning into Daily Tasks


In addition to focused learning sessions, integrate microlearning activities throughout your day. Microlearning involves short, bite-sized learning in the midst of other tasks. This technique allows for learning in small increments, as opposed to lengthy concentrated study. With deliberate effort, microlearning can be injected into routine daily activities.


For example, while commuting you could listen to a short 5-10 minute podcast on a skill you want to develop. Over your lunch break, you might spend 10 minutes reading an article that gives tips for improving a challenging area of your work. When washing dishes or folding laundry at home, you could listen to a microlesson on building your capabilities as a leader or manager. Even just 5 minutes of reading here or there during the day adds up over time.


Microlearning works best when the content is directly relevant in the moment. Think about the tasks you engage in each day and identify microlearning opportunities that will provide timely knowledge. With practice, integrating bite-sized learning into your routine daily activities becomes second nature.


Leveraging Everyday Interactions for Peer Learning


Informal peer learning through everyday human interactions is another opportunity highlighted by the authors. Connecting with colleagues at work and contacts in your broader network for short conversations centered on exchanging knowledge and insights can be quite valuable over time.


For example, use lunch, coffee breaks, or pre-meeting chatter as a chance to ask peers about an approach they use that you want to learn more about, or discuss innovations and new learning in your field. Treat meetings as opportunities to solicit advice and perspectives from colleagues on challenges you're facing or ideas you want to develop. Schedule brief phone calls with your wider network to learn about their career journeys and lessons learned. When conversations turn to non-work topics, steer discussions back to professional development issues where peers may have experience to share.


In the course of day-to-day interaction at work and within your network, exchanges that facilitate peer learning can become habitual. As long as conversations are kept focused and respectful of others' time, brief peer learning opportunities integrated into your routine activities can deliver compounded knowledge over the long-term.


Prioritizing Reflection for Continuous Improvement


Finally, carve out time for self-reflection on a consistent basis. Reflecting on your learning helps synthesize new knowledge and identify personal growth opportunities. Setting aside as little as 5-10 minutes per day for focused reflection can lead to important realizations that drive continuous improvement.


One approach is to block off reflection time late in the afternoon or early evening when your mind is less pressured. Use this time to look back on your learning from the day and think about how your new knowledge or skills could be applied. Journal in writing or audio record your reflections on questions like: What am I learning that is making me stretch and grow? What knowledge gaps has today's learning revealed that I should address? How can I put today's learning into practice for better work outcomes? How does today's learning relate to my career goals?


Prioritizing regular reflection helps cement new lessons learned, while identifying ongoing learning needs to drive your continued growth and development. Over time, reflection at the end of each day to shape plans for the next day can become routine best practice.


Conclusion


In today's fluid career environment, the capacity to continually learn, unlearn and relearn is more vital than ever. By adopting the techniques recommended by the authors, such as focused daily learning sessions, microlearning integrated into routine tasks, informal peer exchanges, and daily reflection, learning can become a habitual part of our work and lives. Making learning a consistent behavior yields compounding benefits over our careers. While it requires deliberate effort to make time for learning each day, the long-term dividends make it a worthy investment. Start putting these tips into practice to take charge of your ongoing professional development and career success.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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