The Harpoon Blog

8 Ways to Learn New Skills while Balancing Work Responsibilities

by Sylvia Burleigh in Business Tips

Do you have an overly inflated sense of how much free time you have? You’re not the only entrepreneur to fall into this trap. I also believe that most people struggle with learning new skills while running their business. Staying relevant in your field is just as important as promoting it. So, how do you carve time from your day to learn a new skill when your schedule is filled with commitments?

Here are a few tips that may help find that time and keep you from becoming overwhelmed.

Revisit your Schedule

 Get a feel for the items on your to-do list that fall under the category of non-negotiable. Here’s a good one: sleep. Do not skimp on sleep to take on a new course. If you think cutting a few hours from sleep is going to make a difference; you’re dead wrong. Feeling overtired will only reduce your productivity and the quality of your work.

Find the Time Wasters

I’m as guilty as the next person. I spend too much time on emails and before I know it my morning is gone. Commit to just checking email twice a day and schedule the time. For instance, 15 minutes in the morning and then check again in the afternoon to reply to anyone that has sent an email in return.

If you tend to be a talker, and stay on a call longer than intended, this one trick might break you of that habit forever. Set your cell phone on timer when you receive a phone call and keep an eye on how long you’ve been talking. If it’s not urgent or a deal breaker, devote ten minutes of your time to it, and no more.

Consolidate Tasks

If you set aside time for errands, consolidate your trip so that all the errands can be done at once. Consolidate your communication tasks to include email, phone calls you need to return and any social media tasks that require your attention.

Social Media Strategy

This goes for social media as well. Schedule a time each day to accomplish social media tasks. Most social media experts will tell you not to post more than 4 times in a day. Post too frequently and you risk the potential block or mute. Use social media tools that help you coordinate and schedule your posts like buffer or HootSuite across multiple social media platforms. You don’t need to write each post from scratch. Eighty percent of your posts should be from curation or content collected using curation tools such as Stumbleupon, Digg or Reddit. In other words, share what’s trendy and relevant from other credible sources. And choose the appropriate content for the intended audience to achieve the highest interaction and conversion.

Consider Outsourcing

Some tasks can be delegated to others. Entrepreneurs have been successful at using sites like guru.com and Elance to find office help, graphic designers, editors and more. Delegating tasks to others can give you both peace of mind and the time you need to learn a new must-have skill.

Reassess your Priorities

Take one day to evaluate your accomplishments for the week. When you reassess what’s ahead periodically, you get a better idea of just how much you can accomplish in a day. Once you understand what’s left to do, you can create a new priority list for the following week and find the time needed to accomplish more.

Download Podcasts to your Cell Phone

The internet is filled with audio e-books and podcasts to learn just about anything on the fly. So if you find yourself stuck in an airport or in traffic, listen to one while you wait.

Join Trade Organizations or Communities on Google+ and Facebook

Most trade organizations offer a free publication, discounted books and courses. The fee alone is well worth joining just for the networking opportunities alone. You’ll hear first-hand the best way, whether it’s an e-course or e-book, to learn a new skill fast from seasoned professionals. Think of it this way, someone has already done the legwork for you, so you don’t have to spend time having to search for the best sources.

If you low on cash, join communities or groups on Facebook or Google+. Many entrepreneurs and freelancers share their experiences and knowledge through Google+ hangouts and Facebook groups. Some of these experts self-publish and offer e-books on Amazon and Good Reads at low prices too. Don’t be afraid to join like-minded individuals on their quest for knowledge, you learn just as much in these opportunities as you would taking an online or university course.

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