Today’s workforce obtains advanced degrees or certifications to grow professionally and satisfy job requirements. Depending on the state and industry you’re in, everyone from teachers to nurses to body artists are often required to complete a defined number of professional development or continuing education courses to maintain their certifications.
Predictably, adult learning through continuing education and professional development courses can be incredibly challenging when balancing a 40+ hour workweek with a variety of personal obligations when off the clock. Working full-time, spending time with family, and trying to maintain some sense of sanity through self-care can leave you feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the week. How can full time professionals find time to focus on enhancing their careers?
Difficult as it often is, professional development is a big part of career growth. To help integrate professional development more easily into your routine, we share our best advice below.
1. Find Online Programs
Free time is hard to come by, especially for full-time employees. That’s why the accessibility, flexibility, and convenience of online learning can’t be understated. Not having to drive to a class or rearrange a schedule to set aside time to attend courses can be a huge relief, even if it means you’re completing your credits while curled up on the sofa in pajamas.
Thankfully, easy-to-use online learning platforms like #1 Premiere Continuing Education deliver professionally-designed classes that help workers like nurses, teachers, cosmetologists, and body artists to enhance their careers and meet state-mandated requirements.
2. Develop Routines
As busy as we all are, completing professional development is going to take extra time. To keep from feeling overwhelmed with adult learning, take the time to create a process that works for you. Developing a routine promotes structure for your pursuit of professional growth and can be supported in a couple of ways.
Start with familiarizing yourself with the exact requirements to renew your specific certifications and when the deadlines are. Then, when planning your day outside of your work schedule, set aside time to complete requirements like it’s part of your job.
For example, if you decide to spend Monday evenings learning, then think of it like working late that evening. Some folks benefit from grabbing their laptop and camping out at the local coffee shop before or after work while others might use their after-work commute to catch up on coursework. Whatever hours are best for you, stick to them to create a regular routine that you can rely on.
3. Integrate Coursework with Your Career
Adult learning tends to be much more effective if you’re learning something you can see practical value in. Applying professional development training to your day-to-day activities will reinforce the content and bring it to life while enhancing the value you bring to your employer.
For instance, healthcare workers who learn about OSHA compliance standards, or teachers who stay up to date with helpful information relating to building resilient classrooms, can both benefit immensely and immediately from applying the insights they glean from their professional development courses to their workday.
Making the time for professional development will take some cooperation on the part of your family and loved ones. If you need time off from your duties at home to complete your education to satisfy state-mandated requirements and develop professionally, it’s important to communicate that need effectively.
Set aside time to explain that professional development is an important part of your role—if you’re studying at home, it’s important that family members step up and take responsibilities off your plate, whether that means taking the dog out or getting dinner started.
5. Find a Study Space
While it might sound like a trifle, finding a good study space is incredibly important to successful adult learning. Taking professional development courses online often means that full-time employees can flip through a few slides between tasks, meeting their learning goals incrementally.
In other instances, it’s helpful to seek out a dedicated space that will allow you to concentrate and focus on your learning. If a quiet space at home is not possible, start exploring your city or town for the following:
- A quiet coffee shop with strong WiFi and outlets
- The local library
- Employee lounge or break room
- Local park (if it’s nice out)
- The quiet home of a friend or family member
6. Stay Motivated
It’s not easy trying to juggle work with family life, and then on top of that try to find time to fit in professional development.
Try this trick: think deeply about what keeps you motivated in other aspects of your life. One way is to focus on the integral rewards of your career path, such as the value added to your professional role by continued adult learning. Motivation can also be supported in more practical terms by reminding yourself that this extra effort is only temporary and the sooner you’re done, the more free time you’ll have.
7. Find Time to Rest
Investing in yourself and your career while meeting mandatory requirements through professional development is a lot of extra work, but it is important to maintain a balance. Have you heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is surprisingly simple: “One bite at a time.” This means it doesn’t all need to be accomplished at once. Even 1 hour of dedicated study time makes a difference.
Protect your well being and set boundaries. The Self-Care and Mental Health course offered by #1 Premier Continuing Education will introduce you to practical self-care strategies so you can maintain a healthy work-life balance no matter what industry you’re in.