Managing your time well means getting the best return on the investment of the minutes and hours you devote to activities in and out of work. Companies invest approximately $1,200 per employee annually in professional development activities. When you opt to attend a training course, you also allocate your time to prepare for, attend, and follow up on it.
So, you’ve attended a seminar, conference, or training course. You come into your office holding a binder, booklet, or folder containing the ideas you had and nuggets of knowledge you collected from your participation. You have the best of intentions to improve yourself and/or your processes as a result of the notes and handouts in your arms.
Unfortunately, they usually just gather dust on a shelf.
Try these tips to turn your best training intentions into game-changing actions. The process starts before you leave the office for the course. Schedule an appointment on your calendar, a personal debrief of sorts, within a week of the end of the course to do the following:
- Re-read the materials and beef up the notes you took during the seminar. You may have had thoughts since the end of the class to add.
- Separate the various pieces of information from the course into the topics it covered. You may already have a reference file on that topic and can keep the training handouts with similar articles and reference materials.
- If you decide to keep all the information together in the binder you received at a conference, make sure the spine is labeled and purge it when the materials are no longer current or relevant to your priorities.
- Transfer all action items/tasks from the training class onto your to-do list or planner. Transfer any Someday/Maybe projects onto, you guessed it, your Someday/Maybe list.
- If the training materials are not good reference items nor are they action items for you – not even Someday/Maybe – then toss them. Yes, you can do this even if the course was expensive and time-consuming.
- If you have a certification or license that requires continuing education credits, keep records of attendance together, organized by year. Usually, a receipt or attendance certificate will suffice.
- If you come back from a conference with a bag of brochures, pens, stress balls, mouse pads, sticky notes, and/or water bottles, sort through it all and give everything a home, even if that home is the garbage can. In the future, pre-sort this bag before you leave the hotel.
- Plan how you will share what you learned with others. And, no, passing around your hastily scratched out notes won’t cut it. Schedule some time to discuss the concepts you learned and things you plan to do differently. Not only will this transfer knowledge but will also give you accountability to implement your goals.
*Source: ATD 2016 State of the Industry Report
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.