Somehow everyone expects creatives to learn in their free time, which you should dedicate to recharging the batteries, spending some time with the family, or do nothing at all. Nobody would expect an accountant or a doctor to practice in their free time. Why should we do it then?
It’s so much fun.
I started designing and developing websites in my free time and made it my job right after school. I should have moved the creative work I did in my free time to more regular working hours. But I just mixed everything and had no boundaries between work and not-work. It was all the same, and I hear that a lot from others too.
It’s probably that kind (failed) transition, which leads to the general misconception of creatives enjoying their work so much that they don’t need free time. Let me tell you something: It’s wrong.
The perfect day here has around five hours of focused, creative work. If we can achieve that, even for one day, it’s already a huge success. There is no way to do more regularly. Sure, you can pretend to do a little more, maybe some slow work, but let’s be honest: No matter how much you enjoy your work, your productivity will go down after a few hours of concentrated work.
I’d like to learn that.
There is a good chance you stumble upon things you would like to learn. Maybe there is a method you’ve seen, you have the feeling not fully to grasp part of your work, or you’re just curious. Some people keep lists of things they would like to have a closer look at, books they want to read, or something they want to try out.
There is probably not much room in your life to do that without sacrificing something else.
Learn new things.
To wrap your head around a new thing, you want to have three phases. You don’t need all three, but it’s the most effective way to develop new skills from our experience.
First, you need to gain knowledge, for example, reading a book, watching a video course, or listening to a talk. This action is mostly passive but requires a time where you’re concentrated.
To understand a topic, it helps to exchange thoughts with someone else. That could be a friend you’ll explain what you’ve read, a colleague who already has some experience with the topic, but probably another perspective, or a mentor who has her thoughts on the matter.
Then you need to apply your theoretical knowledge to consolidate it, for example, a new project. It’s probably the most intense phase, but not as effective without the other two steps.
How your employer can help.
All our employees have a 1,000 € educational budget per year to buy whatever they need for their personal development. That can be a book, video course, conference, or whatever. It’s totally up to them as long as they grow within their current role or even in a new position here.
We ask everyone to share and discuss their new knowledge with the team. That’s not only a great way to give others a broad understanding of topics they wouldn’t learn about otherwise but also a way to deepen your understanding.
Also, we give everyone time to read, watch, discuss, talk, write, exchange, experiment, and apply their knowledge to form a new skill. All team members can ask us to block a few days in our schedule so that work won’t interrupt them.
And if someone wants to read or watch something for an hour or so, there is no need to tell us. Just do it, learning should be part of the daily work, and we respect that.
How do you deal with learning? Do you have enough time to grow your skills? How do you manage to block time for it? Let us know on Twitter, happy to chat with you!