Professional Development: I’m far too busy for professional development

For the next two weeks, the QUT Information Studies Group are taking over the ILN Blog to talk about Professional Development:  

Photo: CC0 by Eric Michael

Photo: CC0 by Eric Michael

It’s true. I’m really far too busy to do anything about my professional development right now. I work a lot. My job is extremely demanding. I have a research project coming to a close. I have a backlog of journal articles to write. I have hundreds of blog posts to grade. My to do list is so long I’ve stopped adding things to it because it’s too overwhelming. My inbox is a disaster zone. I have family commitments that impact on when and where I work, and how long I can work at a stretch. I have a 2.5 hour round trip drive when I go into the office, which is dead time. I rarely have a weekend off work. I moved house three months ago and I still haven’t finished unpacking. I’m doing a major renovation on my house and there are about a million problems to follow up…

 

I’m really, really busy.

But I bet you are too.

We all are.

 

A couple of weeks ago I sat in on a class for our Professional Practice unit that was focused on career development. We were talking about having a social media presence, engaging with a personal learning network (PLN), professional development, and how we can find time to put effort into these things. My colleague Kathleen made an important point. Everyone is busy.

 

Busy, busy, busy.

Busy is the new normal.

And, to quote Kathleen, ‘We just need to suck it up and get on with it’.

Being busy is not an excuse for neglecting professional development.

 

Kathleen’s comment made me take pause, because I have definitely neglected my professional development (PD) lately because I’ve been busy. Everyone is busy, but we have to make time for professional development. We just have to.

So I’ve decided I need to do something about it. Three things, in fact. I’ve come up with three strategies for getting some PD done:

  1. Integrate a PD activity into my everyday workflow
  2. Make use of dead time for PD
  3. Carve out a chunk of time to do something I’ve been meaning to do

 

  1. Integrate a PD activity into my everyday workflow: Get back into Twitter

Over the years I have built a great personal learning network that is primarily situated in Twitter, but for about the last year, I’ve largely been absent in this space. I’ve been busy (there’s that word again!), yes, but if I’m really honest, I’ve also been spending more time on Instagram and YouTube and that’s eaten up my social media time and energy. While Instagram is a site for my PLN, it doesn’t play the same role in my professional development. So I’m committing to getting back into Twitter this month. I’m just going to spend 15 minutes, a couple of times a day, and I’m going to spend some of that time tuning my network for my current interests so that my Twitter feed is highly relevant. I need to get Twitter back into my everyday workflow.

  1. Make use of dead time for PD: Listen to podcasts on my commute

I’ve recently discovered podcasts as entertainment for my commute but have to confess that I’ve been listening to fun stuff rather than work-related stuff. So I’m going to change that. Specifically, I’m going to listen to research methods and philosophy podcasts to help me learn about the methodology phenomenology and the philosophies that underpin it. Next week I’ve got about 9 hours of driving time that I can use to get some listening done.

  1. Carve out a chunk of time to do something I’ve been meaning to do: Read a book

I’ve been carrying the book Technology as experience around in my handbag for about the last two months and so far I’ve managed to read about a page and a half. This action will take a bit of a concerted effort to get done. I’m a productivity fiend so I often feel like I’m wasting time when I’m reading because I could be doing something. So I really need to shift my mindset about this. It’ll only take me a few hours to read and I really need to read it to help me develop my thinking about some key concepts related to my research. I just have to make time.

 

The reality is I’m always going to be busy because I really love my job and I’m always being tempted by shiny new things I could do. I don’t want to miss out on opportunities and I want to do the very best work I can. If I’m always going to be short on time then I need to learn to prioritise PD and find time for it on a regular basis.

What about you? Are you too busy for PD?

  • Can you integrate some PD into your everyday workflow?
  • Can you make use of dead time for PD?
  • Or can you carve out a chunk of time for a PD activity?

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.


– Kate Davis 

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2016A and tagged , , , , , , .

14 Comments

  1. I use Twitter to keep me abreast of changes in libraries and technologies around the world. The articles that are linked and the comments made are varied and interesting – not always relevant to my current work but perhaps they could be one day. It is something I can pick up any time of day or night that fits in with my work/life balance. Because the articles I read are ones that I have chosen to read, I am engaged with the content – self-directed PD!

    • This is it Lisa: ‘not always relevant to my current work but perhaps they could be one day’. When I’m not on Twitter, I feel like I’ve got blinkers on. When I’m immersed in social media, I can see lots of content in my peripheral vision. I may not reach out and grab it and really get stuck into it, but I’m aware of it, which means I can go and grab it later if I need it. When I’m not using Twitter consistently, I miss all of that stuff that would flit across my screen and into my memory. And I think that peripheral awareness of what’s going on in the world is incredibly important.

      We have another post coming up on Twitter that I think you’ll like! It’s very much focused on self-directed PD.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hi Kate

    I do find time to continue my PD. I use a number of social media platforms to help me to keep up with my PD:

    • Twitter to follow people who would help me to continue to learn about libraries
    • Facebook – I am member of number of groups for example Library Professionals and
    • LinkedIn – join groups that will help me to keep up to date with my PD.

    There are small things you can do that will help you to continue to grow:

    • Read your wonderful blog posts
    • Talking to your ILN partner
    • Read the discussion topics emails from ILN
    • Talk to your colleagues and friends and
    • Participate in free online/face-to-face conferences or workshops.

    I am volunteer for housebound services at my local public library and I also ask my supervisor about issues that effect the library.

    Thanks again for your posts. Cheers Jenny

  3. Dear Kate Davis, after reading your post, my heart skipped. I am riding in the same boat with you.I completed all the coursework for my Msc Info Sc but am failing to complete the Thesis because of being busy and at times i find myself in a situation where i cant sit down and concentrate especially regarding this research paper. I have also not had time to communicate with my ILN partner of late but promise to do so.
    Am not going to attend IFLA and am dedicating August and September to embark on completing this Thesis

    • Hi Ufuoma

      Thank you for your comment it really started me to think about these issues and how we could change that culture. However, if we do not continue to enjoy reading and learning how will our society change. I believe that individual’s professional development also helps universities and educational institutions to find out what students and organizations needs and hopefully in time change their programs to reflex that. I was wondering have you got any ideas how we could change this culture and help everyone to enjoy the wonderful world of reading and learning?

      Thank you Jenny

    • Best of luck with the thesis! I completed my PhD thesis last year and I know well how tough the thesis writing process can be. The final sprint to submission involved so little sleep that I have now learned to function on less sleep every day. Unexpected benefit!

  4. Great post, Kate. “The reality is I’m always going to be busy because I really love my job…” Yes!
    I love your strategies. If there’s a will there’s a way!
    I have found Twitter to be a fantastic PD tool; even when I could only catch up once or twice a week, there’s always something there on offer from another professional. Tomorrow is another Twitter chat…great opportunity to hear others’ insights.
    I need to pursue the Podcast idea…even though my commute is short. Librarians’ blogs have also taught me much… e.g. The Unquiet Librarian, and of course THIS one. 🙂

    • I’m really enjoying the podcasts. I like to have background noise while I work so I’ve been listening to a range of different podcasts lately both while I’m commuting and while I’m working. Highly recommend them!

  5. Dear Ms Kate Davis
    Nice to read your post and the comments that followed. It is really motivating to know that people out there are seriously thinking about the development of our profession.I, myself after joining my job have completed my PhD and to keep myself updated I go on participating this type of programmes. I had completed one round of ILN programme and this is my second round. I try to interact with my partner atleast once a week. There is so much to learn and it seems the little free time I have is not enough. Even then I will try to follow your twits.

    Thanks & Regards

  6. Dear Ms Kate Davis
    Nice to read your post and the comments that followed. It is really motivating to know that people out there are seriously thinking about the development of our profession.I, myself after joining my job have completed my PhD and to keep myself updated I go on participating this type of programmes. There is so much to learn and it seems the little free time I have is not enough. Even then I will try to follow your twits.

    Thanks & Regards

  7. Pingback: What challenges does your library face? Constant development | International Librarians Network

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