Here's why summer is the perfect time to learn new skills

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During the summer, life just seems to be a little more relaxed: the kids are out of school, people are on holiday, and even work seems to slow a little with the heat until Australia Day signals the return to business as usual.

As things slow down around us, it is the perfect time to focus on things we can’t always get to during our normal daily routine. The slower pace of summer, combined with the optimisation and positivity a new year brings, lends itself perfectly to a little reflection and personal development.

You may have time to tackle some of the business books that have been stacking up on your physical and digital book shelves, or you might get to finally consume some of the e-learning courseware you’ve been eyeing. The time that we are able to spend learning new things and sharpening business skills makes us better at our job, but it also gets us excited and re-energised to tackle work and life’s challenges as things inevitably speed up again as kids return to school and co-workers return from holidays.

Here are a few ways you can use the summer to develop your own skills.

1. Read a book or join a (virtual) book club

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Reading is an essential component of leadership development…broad and deep reading habits can sharpen intelligence, make you a better communicator, and improve emotional intelligence.” When selecting what to read, choose something that aligns with trending topics, emerging business practices, provocative new ideas, or ground-breaking research—subjects that will get you talking, sharing, and practicing new ways to work for the near year.

To take your learning up a notch, consider joining a virtual book club. Sharing your reading with a wider group provides a more diverse perspective, which broadens our understanding. At Skillsoft, we’ve taken the idea of the traditional book club and given it a digital makeover for the modern workforce.

2. Embrace e-learning

We all know the run-up to Christmas can be hectic so everything apart from the most urgent tasks gets sidelined. Unfortunately, this often means there is a library of e-learning content waiting for your attention when you return to work after the break. Rather than postponing your e-learning, use this quiet period to give it your full attention. Setting aside 20 minutes to focus on sharpening your skills in areas such as leadership, time management, creativity and innovation, will reset your equilibrium and ease your return to work as you will feel positive, prepared and motivated.

3. Find a mentor

A good mentor can be an invaluable resource. Learning from someone who has already ‘been there’ is a great way to learn from experience. And, a really great mentor can help you to see things in new ways and focus on the most important aspects of a new task or challenge. The summer time is a great way to dodge an ‘I’m too busy’ response and get your foot in the door with the mentor you’ve always dreamed of.

4. Consider certifications

Certifications can be a great way to master highly-targeted and highly-desirable skills. As the academic year is yet to start, if you’re working in an industry or a domain that recognises certifications, consider pursuing one or more via online learning courseware or classroom training.

Many organisations understand that by encouraging personal development and providing opportunities to learn a new skill, employees are more positive and engaged, but we also need to take some responsibility for our own development. Taking on your own personal development will help make you a more agile learner and agile learners are extremely valuable assets to employers.

Using the summer to rediscover our commitment to developing our own skills doesn’t have to end when things get busy. Whilst we might not have time to sit down and digest an entire book or course, we can always spare a few minutes to watch a quick inspirational video, or to read a summary of the latest business book. If we can create good learning habits this summer, it will stand us in good stead to be able to carry them through the rest of the year.

Rosie Cairnes, Regional Director ANZ at Skillsoft.

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