Take charge of your learning

“The stepladder is gone, and there is not even an implied structure of an industry’s rope ladder.  It’s more like vines, and you bring your own machete.  You don’t know what you’ll be doing next or whether you’ll work in a private office, or one big ampitheater or out of your house.”  – Peter Drucker: Managing in Times of Great Change.


In my role as an academic developer I have noticed a couple of key trends over the last five year. Firstly, everyone is busy doing their own thing, and few have time or inclination to develop and support others.  Managers have so many conflicting demands that their time for coaching and mentoring is short. They have little time to spend developing their staff, even if this might be the activity that brings the greatest return on investment. (I have some thoughts on what managers need to be learning, but I will leave that to another post).

Secondly, there is so much information, activities and experiences packed into one year, that most employees are wholly overwhelmed and over worked.  I am looking for solutions, that help employees to learn, and that also collate and curate all the information, experiences and activities that take place on daily basis. Employees need processes that manage and record their time and activities so they are aware of what are the most difficulty tasks they have to deal with, what are most frequent, and important. Whatever tools used to manage this process have to be easy to integrate into daily professional life.  

Jane Hart, has just written on a similar theme, and I encourage you to read her post. The Future belongs to those who take charge of their own learning.   

Documenting my work: I have found Evernote by far the best tool to capture activities, experiences and reflections on a day by day basis. I use the clipper tool to clip from the Internet, the notes to jot down ideas, reflections, and experiences, the photo tool to record the moment, and the voice recorder to catch ideas when in the car. I use the tags liberally, to curate my activities, and I keep a notebook called “Day Book”. This used to be a feature of all large offices and organisations. A place to record key events of the day, absences, leave, visitors, etc. Through analysis of the Day Book I can see clearly, the most difficult, important and frequent activities I undertake. 

Reviewing my learning: To curate my own learning, I use a posterous site, as a portfolio. You can see the showcase version here.  Behind the public face is a much messier developmental space.  It is a private space holding all my great ideas that have yet to see the light of day, half finished projects, reflections, articles and activities I have been involved in. This portfolio demonstrates my achievements and my learning. It clearly shows what I can do, and it integrates with other places where my professional self can be found, LinkedIn, Twitter, and my own website.  You can hear more about me and my portfolio in the Slideshare presentation below. It only takes five minutes to find out how our manage and control my online presence. 

Both of these tools fit easily into my daily life. I have Evernote on my phone, so I can add thoughts, and reminders while sitting waiting at the dentist or in a cafe. Nothing is wasted or lost. At performance review time, I can look back on a last year, and pull out my key activities and achievements. When looking for another position, I have my key skills at my finger tips. 

I am interested to hear, how others curate their own learning, and keep track of their work. So please do share. And if you are interested in what managers need to be learning, I am working on that post next!

Related Reading:

The Post-Capitalist Executive: An Interview with Peter F. Drucker

“Topgrading”: it’s possible to be talented AND be an effective team player





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