Running a business and balancing a work-life routine can be difficult, meaning learning a new skill may not be top of your to-do list.
We spoke to Hilary Weston Jones and Vanessa Jackson , both lecturers at Birmingham City University in the Arts, Design and Media faculty, on their top tips for incorporating continuous learning development into your daily routine.
Continue reading below for some top tips and inspiration on making learning more manageable to achieve those long standing goals.
1). Make space for you to learn.
Think of space in terms of both physical space and time. Make space in your schedule dedicated to the topic you’re focused on learning, at a time when you know you’re not going to be interrupted.
When preparing a physical space, dedicate an area for your continuous learning with no interruptions. Reduce the possibilities of getting distracted. Turning off your phone (if possible) can help you to keep your focus and not be disturbed. Alternatively, as mentioned above, blocking out time and making that clear to others can help reduce the amount of disruptions.
Make sure you have everything you need, a drink, notepad, pen and good wi-fi connection to reduce the chances of needing to fetch things during you study time.
As we move to a new normal, we may still find virtual learning remains or at least a 50/50 approach. If you do find yourself learning virtually, remember to treat this exactly the same as a classroom.
Taking time out to learn something new is important, both for our mental well-being and also the potential to open up new opportunities.
Over the past few years the impact that has been on individual’s mental wellbeing is high. So finding new things to enjoy, the potential to meet new people and obtain a sense of achievement can positively impact us.
2). Use your interests and passions to help drive you
It has been noted that most individuals are looking to develop skills around new technology and the opportunities this presents in terms of doing things differently. Most notably, the increase demand for social media skills and training.
Social media is a powerful tool to communicate and connect with a market – individual clients and your wider audience. During lockdown the importance of using social media became clearer, leading to the increase in demand to both understand and learn how to use this.
Your passion and interest with running your business may help to fuel learning a new skill in digital and social media, so don’t be afraid or assume this may not be for you.
3). Revisit your learning material
One bonuses of participating in online learning is the chance to learn at your own pace. Remember to ask if the session is recorded, and if not whether it can be, so you are able to return to the content if you are unsure of a point or need a reminder.
Also, with everyday distractions round you, sometimes you may need to step away. Knowing the session is being recorded will ease the pressure of taking notes and worrying if you do need to step away at any moment.
Use the technology to answer questions as well, for example the chat bar, can be much less intimidating than putting your hand up in a classroom.
Don’t underestimate the role of learning.
Is learning a new skill really that important? Short answer – yes!
Upskilling is vital for your professional development. It is best to acquire the skills you’re going to need in the future before you actually need them. Opportunities may then come up because you have learnt those skills.
There are also other benefits, such as showing enthusiasm to progress, which won’t go unnoticed. We are constantly evolving and changing, therefore so do our needs and interests.
From a business perspective, encouraging employees to keep their skills up to date through learning at work can be crucial due to working practices of many sectors change rapidly, especially as new technology is developed.
The further benefits are retaining employees, providing continuity and stability, flexible in responding to new trends and developments and provides for a happier workforce.
A clear space for you and a clear schedule.
Continuing with your professional development and learning a new skill has huge benefits for both you and your business. It may be difficult to commit to this at the start, but working to ensure this is embedded into your everyday life can help with the long term.
Interested in gaining a new skill in STEM, STEAM or Soft skills? Find out more about our STEM-Up project, which is part-funded by the European Social fund and provides a programme of free upskilling courses and workshops.