Opportunity to learn

19-December-smallWe all want to do the best job we can and that often means we leave little time in our busy lives for learning new ideas to help inspire us in our work. With so much data to consume its easy to just bury your head and just focus on your job. There are so many platforms clamoring for our attention – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs and news all make up a tiny part of the information overload.

About 12 months ago I decided to try and maximise some of the time I had in my day.

  • The daily commute
  • Evenings
  • Lunch at work

Our personal time has an opportunity cost and I made up my mind to to try and be more productive. Previously I would squander opportunities, playing Bejeweled or Football Manager on my phone travelling to and from work, watching some rubbish on TV or just working my lunch or late into the evening. As a father of two small boys I treasure my free time with them, since they are both in bed for 7:30 I can try to maximise late evenings.

I started by installing a number of apps on my phone that would let me aggregate content to consume at my leisure, of these apps the two that have endured are:

  • Feedly
  • Pocket

Feedly I use to keep up to date with various bloggers I am following, I like the design and its really easy to use. You can quickly flick through the headlines and dive into content that catches your eye.

Pocket I use to save content from elsewhere to consumer later on my phone i.e. something I see on twitter or whilst reading other content.

Its consumption in snippets grabbing the opportunity to learn when it arises rather than throwing in the towel. At the same time I decided to tailor my access to certain social platforms, for example I only check Facebook once or twice a week in favor of checking twitter more frequently. Controversially I defriended and unfollowed a whole bunch of people to ensure I removed a load of noise from my social feeds.

  • Facebook is now people who I care about enough to want to know when they have a hangover or their kid is poorly
  • Twitter is now people who interest me and generally have something to say
  • Instagram is still mostly filled with awesome cats I wish were mine, like Professor Pouncey

As well as trying to keep pace with developments in my line of work I have also been able to find the time to progress a couple of projects outside work. The most exciting of these is the Digital Pm Conference I help organise (Queue the obligatory plug for you to check out the awesome line up folks). The biggest challenge is finding the head space to progress these projects in my own time. After a busy day at work and the kids are asleep I would much prefer to binge on True Detective (what do you mean you never saw it) with the other half or blow off steam robbing a bank in GTA, but ultimately looking back its been a really rewarding experience. I’ve met a load of amazing new people even dusted off my coding skills to boot and still found time to do some of the things I did before.

I would also recommend 15 Productivity Hacks by Phil Jones (Managing Director – Brother UK Ltd), for some tips on how to maximise your time at work and ensure your free time is yours to indulge.

So next time you are watching Homeland, contemplating why you are still enduring it, since (spoiler alert) Brody is dead, consider what else you could be doing with that time.