If you have goals and dreams to move forward in your career or business, then professional development needs to be part of that plan. Our work environment has changed and continues to change rapidly due to the last two years. What has had to be learned and relearned differently is mind-boggling.

So add something else to it? You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

No, I’m not. A solid professional development plan allows you to stay relevant and keep on top of changing trends in your industry (and others). If a promotion is on the horizon, it creates visibility and momentum toward that. 

Professional development is simply identifying goals and learning new skills to support them. It’s not knowing everything; it’s learning the right things that allow you to move forward. 

So that leads me to my first question, do you have goals or a vision for where you want to go in your career? 

As a busy professional with both personal and professional commitments, fitting in professional development can be problematic, if not non-existent. With so much that you juggle every day, how can you possibly carve out time to learn and grow in your career?

How can you not, is my reply. 

What we’ve learned in the past has gotten us to where we are today, but what will you learn today that will take you toward the tomorrow that you desire in your career, business, or leadership journey? 

So, now that we’ve established its importance, how can you find the time? Great question! Here are five tips to help you fit professional development into a busy work schedule. 

1. Get Clarity about what you need from a professional development standpoint.

What are your business goals? What is the next level you aspire to in your career? What is it that you need to focus on to achieve them? Are there skills you need to uplevel? A course that will move you forward? A conference that has all of this in one place? Make a list of what you think is most relevant, and then prioritize it to figure out what is most important to develop first. 

2. Ask for the time.

If your company is willing to let you go for professional development but doesn’t pay for it, ask for the time. Ideally, your organization would pay for it and give you the time, but you can negotiate the time off if not. Likely, if it benefits you in your role, it will benefit your employer too.

3. Make it part of your yearly planning.

Think about what you need and include your professional development requests during your performance evaluation or at the beginning of the year. It is your job to “sell it” to your organization, and you do that by putting it to them with a tone of what is in it for THEM. 

4. Organize your time before, during, and after.

You approved to go! Great, now what? Two of my favorite quotes are “we teach people how to treat us” and “what we permit we promote,” and these quotes couldn’t be any more relevant than here. Teach people how to communicate with you while you’re gone. Take a look at your to-do list before you go and scrub it ruthlessly to identify what you need to DO, what can be DELETED until later, and what can be DELEGATED while you are gone. Make sure your auto-responder is on and that you are clearly communicating when you will be available each day, and also be sure to plan your week out when you return before you leave. This will allow you to know what to expect while you are gone – as much as possible, that is!

5. Get it where you can but be strategic.

There are a plethora of subject matter experts out there. There are coaches, authors, and podcast hosts (just like me – shameless plug) and more content than you can shake a stick at! You can develop yourself by utilizing this content when you are clear about your goals. If this is the strategy you will use, make sure you block your calendar to make it happen, preferably at a regular time, so you get in the habit of doing it. 

I hope these tips have helped you see some ways to fit in the professional development you need to achieve your next steps or next level in your career. Let me know which one you’ll use by leaving a comment below. 

Until next time, here’s wishing you the Clarity you deserve!

Ready to take charge of your career? Figure out your next steps, next level, or next chapter with this FREE career & leadership resource. Claim your Career Clarity Workbook here at www.5DayCareerClarityWorkbook.com, and start getting the answers you need for what’s next.