10 minutes a day may be all you need
Life is busy. You know you should prioritize your own professional growth but somehow it always gets pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
That online conference you wanted to attend? You had a deadline to meet that week, so you missed all the live sessions.
The course you told yourself you’d sign up for? You were too busy juggling your work schedule and helping your kids with online school, and missed the sign-up.
That certification that you were interested in? Somehow, the time involved seemed overwhelming, and your plate at work was always full, so you put it off to a future date.
Now, you find yourself more than halfway through the year, and you still haven’t made any progress towards achieving your career goals.
It’s high time you acknowledged that your professional growth matters.
How much time can you carve out in your busy routine?
What if, instead of signing up for a time commitment of days, weeks or months, you simply schedule a few minutes each day, week, or month?
These 5 time-effective strategies are a great place to start if you need to carve out a development plan that will work for you.
You may be surprised to find the difference it makes when you take short bursts of time regularly. Here are just some of the results you may see: clarity about where you want to go in your career; find ways to tackle roadblocks; stay in the loop with your professional network. By being proactive, you’ll grow your skills and be ready to explore any new opportunities that may come up.
1. Start a career journal (10 minutes per day)
Journaling is good for self-knowledge and stress management – you probably already knew that. But career journaling – writing out your thoughts, ideas, and reflections in a strategic way – can also help you to define what’s important to you, and help you get crystal clear on development areas for your future career growth.
Make it manageable by limiting the time you spend – set a timer for 10 minutes. Get started by asking yourself concrete questions, such as:
- What was the most significant thing that happened at work today?
- What did I learn about myself? About my team members?
- What challenge is giving me the most difficulty right now?
- What achievement am I most proud of?
2. Build your career network (10 minutes per day)
Networking is not just for job-seekers. Get into the habit of using LinkedIn to build your network – even if you are not looking for a new position. Take time regularly to connect with colleagues, past and present. Be social. Also, utilize the wealth of expert knowledge that’s shared on the platform. If you can find a few minutes of extra time, why not start adding your own content to demonstrate your expertise? Or share relevant posts with people in your network to help others out.
3. Create and track your own SMART Career Goals (10 minutes per week)
You probably know the acronym:
- S – Specific,
- M – Measurable,
- A – Achievable,
- R – Relevant,
- T – Timely
While you’ll need longer than 10 minutes to create your goals, once you have done this important step, you can certainly keep track of your progress in 10 minutes or less each week.
Start by asking yourself, “Where do I want to be one year from now?” and define your professional development goals from there.
Once your goals are written down, mark each deadline and milestone in your calendar. And set a recurring appointment in your calendar to keep track of your progress weekly.
If you’ve been procrastinating with your professional development, this approach will help you build a concrete plan so that you can take action and achieve your goals.
4. Write your Career Story (30 minutes per week)
Each week, pick one significant event from your career – this could be recent or it could be from a few years ago. Consider what makes it significant for you – perhaps it demonstrated a skillset, marked an achievement, or had a strong emotional impact. Write down your thoughts, describing both your experiences and your emotions. Whether you write in bullet points or full paragraphs doesn’t matter as much as simply getting the story down.
If you’re not into writing, you could do this by recording videos on your phone.
After a few weeks you will have a collection of significant career milestones that you can review to help you see where you’ve been, how you have grown, and also to identify areas you’d like to develop some more. This will be motivational and will help you to move ahead to that next career milestone.
5. Meet with your mentor (1 hour per month)
If you’re fortunate enough to work in an organization with a formal mentoring program, you may already be meeting regularly with your mentor. However just because you don’t have formal mentoring in your workplace doesn’t mean you can’t find your own mentor.
According to one study, 76% of professionals believe that mentors are important for career growth – so why not be proactive?
Sometimes your own manager is the best resource for your professional development – especially if you’re eager to develop your career within the organization. If so, request a monthly discussion with him or her about your career development. Come to the table prepared with topics that you’re interested in learning about, questions, and ideas that you have for developing your skills. (By the way, this should be separate from any performance evaluations).
People often prefer to work with a mentor who is not their direct manager – in fact this is usually recommended. Seek out a mentor who has experience that you lack, and who is genuinely interested in helping you to grow in your career.
A mentor could even be someone from outside your organization. The best mentors are people who have relevant knowledge, skills and experience and are willing to share these for your benefit. You both need to commit to the mentoring relationship, and to the time needed for the meetings.
So there you have it. Even though you are busy, you can make the time for your own career development. The key here is consistency – pick one or two of the suggestions, and be disciplined about staying on track.
You are worth it! Block the time in your schedule and start today.