What is the key to balancing work and development?
We all have busy schedules and maintaining a healthy work / life balance can be a daunting challenge. Throwing a development plan into the mix can add to existing pressures. Keep on top of everything with our guide to forward-planning in 2018.
Realistic deadlines for your professional development goals go a long way in helping to manage the pressures of daily demands. Rather than pledging to dive into a new topic every week, align your targets with your work schedule and plan by quarter.
For example, if Q1 is generally a quiet time of year for you, use those months to undertake an online course or pursue a new skill. Conversely, if Q3 is your busiest rush of work, set aside less intensive time slots to watch some webinars or attend an event or two.
Setting fairly long-term deadlines helps to prevent stress around prioritising and allows for greater flexibility in your time management. Review your progress weekly and determine what you can realistically achieve in the days ahead to meet your goals.
Types of learning
ICAS offers a wide range of online and face-to-face training courses so CAs can benefit from maximum flexibility in their continuing professional development (CPD). It is important to consider which type of learning works best for you and how well aligned it is with your priorities.
For example, you may have a passing interest in learning more about data analytics but, while likely to add value to your skillset, it isn't necessarily part of your day-to-day operations. In this situation, webinars and short online courses are the most practical pursuits. Independent research like reading books on the subject in your spare time is also a valid development technique.
Conversely, if an industry-changing development such as Making Tax Digital (MTD) is set to impact your work in the near future, it is exactly the kind of topic that you should spend a lot of time and effort getting to grips with. At this point, you should consider training days, long-term courses and conferences.
Development can be a social opportunity as well as a professional one. Reach out to colleagues and fellow CAs to undertake development opportunities together, whether by attending events and conferences or embarking on a course. Having a peer to discuss learnings with and collaborate on work can keep you motivated throughout the year and help add workplace relevance to your new knowledge.
Also, consider enlisting the help of a coach or mentor to keep you on track. Various programmes offered by ICAS can help you find an appropriate source of support for your career development. A mentor will help you decide what you want to achieve and feed into which priorities will benefit you most.
For more information on our Professional Development offering and to see the full range of initiatives available for you or your organisation, register your interest to receive our PD brochure which will be available shortly.