Time To Grow Global assignments take me everywhere around the world; ordinarily, I’m only home 6 days a month. Yes, Six.

Now many businesses have hit pause on big gatherings such as workshops due to health concerns, I’ve realized something – I’m super at learning on the road. Having trial-and-errored diverse ways to boost my professional development, including in-person lectures, Masterclasses, and seminars, I’m fully convinced:

When I choose how and when I learn, I stick with it.

Refreshing and Updating

Staying relevant in a constantly changing world means adapting how we think, learn, and act. It’s obvious from looking at organizations that never change, leaders who don’t acknowledge or accept that the environment evolves – and so must we.

Of all the leaders I’ve met over 25 years, those who lead most successfully do so by having a finger on the pulse. And they never just ‘are’, because they’re always refreshing their outlooks and skill sets along with the times.

When those times bring change, they change too to make sure they can keep their businesses alive and ahead of the competition. And they do that by proactively chasing knowledge, skills, and perspectives.

If you’re used to a weekly class or a training program at work, these 4 things I’ve learned can help you keep growing when you’re stuck at home.

1. Listen

When I tell leaders to listen, I mean explore and listen. To podcasts, or lectures, audiobooks, to TED Talks. Most of them worry about setting time aside to tune in, as to-dos get neglected and pile up.

Not true – I listen to hours of great podcasts during the times I’d never otherwise be constructive – on the plane, while I pack, and at the gym. To maximize how much I absorb and retain, I listen at x1.25 or x1.5 speed, jotting notes on my phone, then I recap the highlights to my colleagues. My experience is that I can listen to 4 top-notch audiobooks in a month without ever setting time aside.

2. Read

I’ll confess – it takes me ages to get through a good book. But when I have a good (digital) pile of books waiting on my tablet, I’ve always got something ready when the opportunity strikes. Not having to search, assess, and download a new book all the time makes reading all the more enjoyable when it does come knocking, and this way I can sync between devices.

When I look back at how much I’ve read, it all adds up!

3. Courses

Well-known research points to a half-life of five years for most skills and online courses like MOOCs, LinkedIn Learning and Coursera are quick to adapt to the times. Most involve under 10 hours a week of commitment and suggest activities to apply in the real world – while you’re out there (or at home) ‘really doing stuff’.

I’m always advising the leaders I work with to schedule time for online courses, because so many of them live and die by their calendars – if it’s in there, it gets done. And after all, you’re being paid to stay relevant, right?

4. Exercises

The best time to reflect on your development is when you’re alone. Many leadership and professional development authors offer free workbooks and self-assessments to help you get started – and if they don’t exist yet, just ask!

Not a strong communicator? Want to be more empathetic? Find out exactly what you want to work on and try tips #1, #2, or #3. Complement your findings by asking friends, family, or co-workers and reflecting on your actions or behaviors. With an understanding of your strengths, priorities, and development points, you can focus your learning so it’s more productive.

Final Thoughts

Business may have paused for a while, but your learning doesn’t need to. There are so many ways to keep growing and refreshing – so find a way that’s productive for you. With so many years of work-related travel under my belt, I’ve tried so many different ways to stay sharp and on edge, and I’ve always got options at my fingertips.

So there’s never an excuse.

Reflect on what you’d like to learn, then set yourself some goals. Break them down into sub-goals, explore your options, and schedule them into your calendar. Whether you’re self-isolating or your calendar’s suddenly cleared, you’ve got ever so many ways to keep moving forward.

And when things start to warm up again, you’ll be glad you did.

How do you like to learn? What tips or tactics can you share with me? Let me know, comment below!