Written by: Jen Carlevatti // Nov 20, 2020
Last updated: Nov 20, 2020
Whether your boss is requiring you to take online training courses or you’re voluntarily trying to expand your skill set, finding time for professional development can be a challenge. Between juggling a stressful job, family obligations, and social demands, it can seem impossible. Something has to give, right? Not necessarily. With just a few tips, we’ll have you managing online corporate training without dropping any of the balls you have in the air.
Determine Your Goals
The first key to managing online training successfully is to determine what you want to get out of it. Whether you’re seeking to learn new technologies, build up your expertise, earn a professional certification, or set yourself up for a raise or promotion, understanding what you’re working toward can increase your motivation. If you can’t see how something benefits you, you’re likely to give up on it more easily.
Consider setting up SMART goals for your professional development so you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you’ll know when you’ve achieved it.
Eliminate Obstacles and Distractions
Many of us are working remotely these days, and while it has some upsides, it also comes with a fair amount of challenges. Even if you’re not working from home, life has a way of interfering with our best intentions. Think about the obstacles and distractions that may prevent you from completing online training and brainstorm ways to overcome them.
Do you find yourself sucked into your email inbox or Slack messages the moment you open your laptop? Consider setting aside 15-30 minutes each morning to work on training before reading and responding to emails or signing on to Slack. Are your kids all over you from the moment you get home? Consider going into work early, carving out some time at lunch, or hitting the books after they go to bed. No time for a workout and a training course? Consider watching lectures while you’re on the treadmill instead of listening to music.
No matter what unique obstacles you’re facing, there are ways to overcome them when you get creative.
Once you’ve determined how to get around distractions, set boundaries to help you stick to your solutions and achieve your goals. For example, your co-workers may see you coming into work early and immediately start bombarding you with requests or scheduling meetings. Let your team know in advance that although you’re in the office, you’ve dedicated that time to professional development. You also may want to block off your study period on your calendar.
Similarly, your spouse or kids may see you sitting at your laptop and assume you’re paying bills (or playing solitaire). Let them know in advance that 8-8:30 p.m. is your study time, and that you can’t be interrupted. Try removing yourself to a separate room, closing the door, and posting a do-not-disturb sign if necessary.
Saying no can be hard, but explaining your needs and goals can help get everyone on board and support your efforts.
Get Into a Habit
Now that you have strategies in place to manage online training, make them a part of your routine and stick to them. Set alarms, block off time on your calendar, or ask a co-worker to help keep you accountable. You can also follow a surprisingly easy yet effective five-step process:
- Start with small changes.
- Add incremental increases.
- Break large habits into chunks.
- Get back on track as soon as the inevitable slipup happens.
- Maintain a sustainable pace and be patient.
It may take some effort at first, but after a while, the strategies you established will become an automatic habit.
Make It a Group Effort
Learning can be more fun when you collaborate with others. Ask you colleagues if they would be interested in taking a class with you or setting up lunch and learn sessions. Social media is another great way to connect with other professionals. It’s always helpful to have a knowledgeable partner who you can help keep you accountable, answer questions, or offer advice.
USF Can Help You Manage Online Training
Ready to commit to your professional development? Explore the wide range of courses, certificates and certification programs USF offers! Our live online courses are a convenient way to kick-start your skill set in management, marketing, leadership, human resources, process improvement, project management, and more.