Four tips to make time for professional development

Alarm clock
By Andrew Harbison, CA Today

15 December 2016

How can you fit professional development into your busy schedule? 

There is a certain feeling of satisfaction upon leaving work for the day knowing that you worked as hard as you could. Putting in the hours, especially early on in your career, helps you keep on top of projects and impress the boss. But overdoing it can have adverse effects on your physical and mental health.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 13% of the UK working population are now working 49 hours or more each week. With the charity quoting a staggering 10.4 million working days per year lost as a result of stress, working longer hours is not always a guaranteed way of being more productive.

It is therefore important to strike a harmonious work/life balance. But where does professional development (PD) fit into this regime?

Here are some tips on how to fit PD into your busy schedule without sacrificing a good work/life balance.


1. Make a plan

As you would do for any project, make a plan for your professional development journey. There are planning apps such as Evernote or iMindMap which can help you update your progress and which materials you are using.

2. Set realistic goals

Goals are a great way of staying motivated. Being realistic about what you want to achieve and the amount of time it will take you to get there will help you realise when the best times to fit in some PD are. 

Remember that PD is not something that will happen overnight, it takes time to improve any skill. Create monthly goals and include weekly learning checkpoints to keep you on track.


3. Review your work calendar

Opening your schedule can often mean you are greeted by swathes of blocked off hours throughout the week.

Take time to carefully consider how much of your schedule is of low importance and replace these tasks with PD time. 

This is not to say that you should start cancelling meetings just for the sake of it, it is about understanding how valuable your time is and assigning tasks accordingly.

4. Be clever about your PD content

Once you have your plan, set your goals and assigned time for your PD it will be time to choose the right course for you. ICAS offers a wide range of PD content to suit your learning preferences.

The three professional development diplomas offered in partnership with the CAI are completed via distance learning, allowing members to access them anywhere and at any time.


  • Career development
  • Development of the profession
  • Online learning

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