Fitting Learning Into Your Life

Originally posted Thursday July 8, 2010 by Deirdre Pickerell

Most everyone understands the importance of engaging in lifelong learning. The world of work is incredibly fast paced resulting in the need to keep up with advancements in technology, changes in business focus, new funding opportunities, and the need to maintain certifications / credentials – the list likely goes on and on. In reality, however, it can be exceedingly difficult to incorporate learning into already busy lives; juggling work, family/friends, community, and health can be challenging enough without the added stress of “getting to school.” Perhaps engaging in lifelong learning would be easier if we took a more creative approach to the notion of “learning.”

Learning can occur anywhere, anytime – it isn’t just about driving to a local community college to take a course or meeting co-workers at a company-sponsored training event. Even universities recognize the importance of offering a wider range of options for adult learners; I’m, for example, completing my PhD in Organizational Systems via a distributed learning model…there is no need for me to visit the university campus. Learning can also be informal such as reading, sharing technical tips with colleagues, and attending lunch ‘n learns.

Here are a few tips for fitting learning into your life:

  • Keep a reading box – journals, magazines, and books can be popped into a basket or box and grabbed when time permits or the mood strikes. Fill your briefcase before a road trip or flight
  • Form a topical discussion group – meet with team members and/or colleagues for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly sessions, perhaps over lunch or coffee. Rotate who is going to share an item learned relevant to their work
  • Share a tech tip – come to each staff meeting with a technical tip (i.e., did you know CTRL+Z is a keyboard shortcut for undo)
  • Take a short e-course – we recommend www.lynda.com for inexpensive, quick, self-paced training. With over 830 courses ranging from web development and digital photography to MS Office and Adobe there is something for everyone

For more formal education (i.e., college-level courses, certificate and degree programs) don’t overlook the benefits of distance education – it can easily fit around other life activities and, in some cases, can offer a better educational experience than face-to-face training.

Most importantly, remember that

Learning is a treasure

that will follow its owner everywhere

~Chinese Proverb

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