So You Want to Learn a New Skill. Here’s How to Find the Time – inc.com article

By: Mandy Gilbert Founder and chief executive, Creative Niche


If you, like me, are an entrepreneur, you may find it overwhelming some days to try to “learn it all,” all at once. I can relate to the story she tells about having too many tabs open in my browser.

Mandy walks us quickly through this minefield and helps us to focus on the important things that *need* to get done, first and foremost.

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As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably spent hours on end teaching yourself about the various aspects involved with running your own business. You’re no stranger to professional development, and you know how important it is to stay up to date on industry news and trends.

We all want to be the best in our business, and that means always moving forward in your knowledge and skill base. However, as your company grows and your time becomes more limited, you may be struggling to find a way to keep expanding your entrepreneurial knowledge.

It’s easy to prioritize your daily tasks to the extent that professional development falls by the wayside. So when you’re trying to add a service or skill to your resume, or just catch up on what’s new in your industry, it’s important to set yourself up for success by scheduling time for professional development. Use these tips to organize your resources so you can keep on learning without getting overwhelmed. 

1. Prioritize.

When I first started as a young entrepreneur, I thought I could do everything in my one-person business, and so I set out to learn about the different areas required for running a business all at once. However, I very quickly learned that this was an untenable way of working, and I needed to focus my energies on the skills I needed right away. With this in mind, I brainstormed a list of all of the things I needed to figure out in order to succeed–from daily operations and hiring to building brand recognition through marketing. Then I put them in order based on what needed to happen first.

There are so many aspects of a business to consider, but you are only one person, and you can’t do everything at once. Choose the most pressing and focus on that, and don’t waste your limited resources on attempting to juggle learning a bunch of things that you don’t really need to know. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Focus on one thing at a time.

I don’t know about you, but I have been known to have multiple tabs open on my browser for weeks or even months on end, full of things I’m hoping to read or learn, but I just haven’t had time for. The thing is, when you allow the tasks on your “to learn” list to get to an unmanageable number, they start to weigh you down rather than inspiring you as professional development should. Before you continue adding even more tabs to the mix, start paring down your current list by choosing one item to attack every day.

3. Schedule time to learn.

Most entrepreneurs schedule absolutely everything into their day–they know it just won’t get done otherwise. It’s more than likely that some of the learning resources on your list would take only five or 10 minutes to read, but since you’ve allowed so many to build up, they seem insurmountable. 

Take a different approach. You can only do one thing at a time, so take a few extra minutes at the start or finish of your workday where the only thing you’re focusing on is that one piece of learning. How much time you schedule for this and when is up to you, so just make sure you’re actually putting it in your calendar and treating it as a requirement, rather than an elective or hobby.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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