Just when you thought you were done with studying and tests when you entered the workforce, you realize that your career field as most do today, requires proper professional development and continuing education courses. Professional development and continuing education make perfect sense as technology and expertise in all fields changes rapidly.
In order to stay informed and competitive, professionals in the field need access to this new information in a structured manner that can be tracked for completion, especially in fields where license to practice is granted by a state or federal agency. Yet, for a busy working professional, finding time to research and preparing for continuing education courses is difficult at best. Studying as a working professional is different from doing so as a student; however, by following few simple study tips, you should be able to consider both your work life and your course work.
- Set up a time when you will read and stick to it. Your study time should be considered sacrosanct, unless the house has burnt down, or some other earth-shattering event has occurred, and you are not available. Turn off your cell phone, turn off chat programs on your computer, and let those with whom you live know that you are not to be disturbed unless there is an emergency. Once your family or housemates know that you aren’t going to stop every five minutes to handle every little issue, they will learn to handle various issues on their own.
- Take advantage of online formats for continuing education courses. A great deal of continuing education courses are now offered online. While you will still have to watch for these courses, online coursework offers a wide deal of flexibility both in scheduling and pacing. Online courses also don’t require you to sit in a class. You are usually able to present all coursework online. Finally, all certification exams and materials are also delivered electronically, making the process much smoother and less time consuming.
- Use extra study time as you get it. Travel time on public transit, lunch breaks, and even time spent standing in line can be used for studying – particularly if you are able to keep your course materials downloaded onto your Smartphone or a tablet. Even just an extra half an hour or so can help you to keep your workload manageable. While you wouldn’t be able to write an essay or finish an assessment in these extra moments, they are ideal for reading, note-taking, and summarizing information for analysis or reports.
- Make connections between what you are studying and your career. Continuing education, if it is going to be useful, must apply to your current career field. More often than not, you will see some different perspectives on problems you may be having at the time. By applying what you have been studying, not only are you solving a problem or innovating a new process, but you are also making your research meaningful by putting it into a context. Lessons that are learned in a situation not only create more sense to a learner, but also become integrated into the student’s paradigm regarding that particular set of circumstances.
- Remember to take time to relax. You cannot build your life on work, studying, and chores. You need time, particularly when taking continuing education coursework, to relax. While carving out some time to relax may seem impossible, but leisure time doesn’t have to be hours upon hours of down-time nor does it have to be something “big”. Taking a walk, working on a relaxing project, such as knitting or scrapbooking, or even taking a nap can all refresh and reset your mind so that you can give your best work at home, in class, and at work. Without time to relax, you experience the sheer risk of burning out.
At some point during their careers, most professionals will be required to take continuing education coursework while maintaining their career and family responsibilities. While adding one more thing to a full plate seems impossible, with some planning and forethought, working professionals can push studying and coursework into their busy days.
About the Author-
Sameer Bhatia is the founder of ProProfs.com, a provider of online learning management systems..