Making the Time

This weekend I did something I should really be doing more of: professional development reading. I’ve discovered that I’m really good at collecting books, articles, and blog posts to read for professional development purposes, but my execution is a little lacking. Or, I’m good at starting, but not finishing. Some people might scoff at doing reading for work outside of work. For me, reading at work isn’t always an option. I can do quick articles online, and that is usually for the purpose of finding materials to share through the office social media outlets. Not for my own professional development.

I devoted a couple of hours on both Saturday and Sunday to read journal articles. Not only did I read, I also posed questions. I didn’t necessarily have the answers to the questions, and that didn’t stop me from asking them. I had a notebook out so that I could jot down things I wanted to do or try at work. A to-do list, if you will. I also took the time to think and reflect. I caught myself literally staring out the window while I was thinking/reflecting.

Saturday's reading options

Saturday’s reading options

Here are my tips for productive professional development reading:

Immerse yourself into a topic. For me, it was social media. I read a total 5 articles, put together a conference presentation proposal on social media and then started to outline information I want to share in the presentation.

Pick a conductive environment that will help you be productive. Each day I picked a coffee shop. I wanted people around me even though I didn’t necessarily want to interact with them. I wanted to get out of my apartment. I found a comfy spot, put in the earbuds, and had Mumford & Sons on repeat while reading. Personally, I like background noise while I “study.” If it’s dead quiet, that is more distracting to me. Strange, I know.

If possible, don’t force the topic. On Sunday, I tried to work on reading “Empowering Women in Higher Education and Student Affairs” and only read about a page or two before putting it away. I really want to read the book, but I just wasn’t digging feminist student development theory that day. Social media was just a more fruitful topic for me this weekend.

Bring multiple resources to read from. See the item above. This can also be helpful if you want to spend smaller chunks of time reading on different topics.

What tips do you have for professional development reading?

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