Depending from which generation you hail, your definition of “work-life balance” probably is quite different than your co-workers of another age. Baby boomers stereotypically report to the office daily and value work above many other pursuits. Gen X-ers (myself included) put as much energy into our time off work as we put into work. Finally, Millennials are struggling to find out where the line is that seems to blur work and social life.
Regardless of your age and approach to work-life balance, it is true that all of us spend more time than ever connected to technology. You know, that annoying habit of pulling out your smartphone to check a fact in the middle of a conversation. Or asking Siri to identify the artist playing the background music at the coffee shop while you meet with an old friend. And, of course, constantly checking email to see if the project work was done correctly while you were out of the office. We certainly do rely on technology!
Technology for Learning
A second aspect of work-life balance is that we often stay connected in our off-hours so that we can get ahead. While it is probably fruitless to imagine digging out from under the gigantic heap of bits and bytes that make up our cluttered inboxes, we can use technology to better manage our work tasks. The calendar function is a great way to parse the day and schedule important activities. In addition to project team meetings, you can use your calendar to block time for in-depth, quiet, strategic thinking and for personal growth. My calendar is blocked Thursday starting a 3 pm for a networking event which will cover both items (quiet time for thinking during the drive to and from the event location, and personal growth by meeting new people at the event).
We also can use technology for learning. Block time on a regular basis for building skills that will advance your career. The amount and frequency of learning events will be a function of your educations and knowledge-building goals, but the time commitment needs to be regular and long enough to complete a new activity in each session. Five minutes normally won’t cut it! For new product development professional (NPDP) training, we recommend one hour per day for six weeks, with one day off each week. Committing to learning new skills for a professional credential will reap huge rewards for personal and career growth.
Learning for Work-Life Balance
Learning a new skill can help us better balance work goals and find joy in our personal lives. Career-oriented objectives often are only met through demonstrated commitment to our chosen profession. Without a doubt, professional certification is rapidly growing and demanded by employers to show that you are absolutely dedicated and knowledgeable in the field. Many job openings today require certification, such as Project Management Professional (PMP), to even apply for open positions.
Unless you let your certification lag (and we hope you don’t!), professional certification is yours. You are equipped with the demonstrated education, knowledge, and experience regardless of your current job. Professional credentials are portable and show your commitment to learning in the industry. Most valuable certification require continuing education and your professional development hours (PDH) expand your skills to include emerging topics of interest and new best practices. Learning is truly a lifelong endeavor.
As you learn and master new skills, you will find that it enhanced the work-life balance. Your passion for your chosen career cannot help but spill into your personal life as you grow. Leadership and team management skills are not limited to on-the-job implementation. You can use leadership skills as Boy Scout Troop Leader, to organize a community garage sale, or to head a medical mission in Africa. We all need continued improvement in our team skills to better manage new product development projects, engineering teams, or even sensitive family decisions. Learning for career growth does not stop at the office door.
Using Time Wisely
While many of us check our work email as often as we check Twitter or Facebook, it is important to unplug. Studies (CEP, March 2017) shows that the best workers actually take their annual vacation time, get enough sleep every night, and exercise regularly. I tend to combine these pieces of advice and go hiking on vacation which leads to very restful sleep.
But, of course, we are not always on vacation. In fact, most of the time we’re not. Most of the time, we are striving to get better at what we do. So, using the calendar function discussed above, along with the benefits of continuous learning, schedule time to gain or maintain your professional credentials.
For those that are already New Product Development Professional (NPDP), PMP©, or Professional Engineering Manager (PEM) certificates, you will need to commit at least two hours per month to on-going learning. Some of that will occur during network meetings designed to bring together like-minded professionals. However, re-certification for many candidates requires 60 PDHs every three (3) years. You can supplement network meetings with easy-to-use online learning.
The advantage of online learning is that you can block one hour in your schedule every month for quiet time. You can use downtime at the office, during your commute, or time at home. Because online learning is easy to access on any platform, you can choose when and where to learn. If you are seeking a new credential to advance your career, you will probably balance your home life against attaining new skills. If your current employer actively supports educational initiatives, you can block one hour per day for six weeks to gain the necessary knowledge to back-up your work experience. Online learning gives you flexibility to manage your own time against your own work, family, and leisure commitments.
Check out any of our online courses at Simple-PDH.com. We know that work-life balance is important so we want to make it simple for you to study, learn, and earn your professional certifications. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-280-8717.
Study. Learn. Earn. Simple.
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