When people start working on their personal development and career planning, they quickly realise how time consuming it can be.

You need to think about questions you might have never been asked. It will require a lot more introspection and self-analysis than what you are used to. A big part of the reflection also happens in your unconscious mind, when you are not actively focusing on it. That’s why it is very likely that you will go back to your first draft and edit it after a few days or weeks – not because you have changed your mind, but because you have explored it in more depth without realising it. Allocating time in your agenda to solely focus on your personal development document is important, but you also need to give yourself a break and allow your unconscious mind to reflect.

In a busy schedule it’s not always easy to make it a priority. Try to consider it like a work project, with deadlines, a process, resources to use to achieve a goal and someone to be accountable to.

1 | Block time in your calendar in advance

Check your calendar a few days/weeks ahead, pick a day where you don’t have any meeting scheduled yet and block yourself at least two hours. While you’re at it, book a meeting room so you can be in a quiet environment to help you focus. Let your manager know what you are doing in case they need you, and try to avoid distraction as much as possible (so no email, chatting or Facebook).

2 | Work from home

Working from home is a great way not to get distracted and get things done. No work friends asking for a break, no noise from the open space or no one walking to you with a question. When you’re done with your daily tasks, instead of starting a new task, start to work on your self-development. If it helps, see it like a work project. The company will benefit from your personal and professional growth, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t allocate some time during working hours to explore how you could improve.

3 | Do it on your personal time

If you don’t have a minute to yourself at work, you can wait to go home to start thinking about your development. Whether it’s in the evening or during the weekend, or even on vacation, try spending some quality time on your own to start what you can’t do at work. Your personal life might be also quite busy, especially if you have kids. In this case, I would recommend taking one or two half-days off here and there, when the kids are in school, to be able to sit at a table and kick-off your development plan.

4 | Your commute

If you can’t:

  • Book time in your work calendar,
  • Work from home,
  • Or do it on your personal time,

you can always make your commute a moment of self-reflection and personal development. You can read or listen to a book. You can think about your goals and why they are important to you. You can use this moment to meditate. You can also write in a journal and take notes of all that you’ve learned recently.

You can’t follow any of these options?

If these four options are not possible and you really can’t find the time to start your development, it’s probably because now is not a good time for you to make it a priority. There is no judgement and you should be kind to yourself.

Simply ask yourself what is stopping you from doing it and what you could change to get yourself started. You will never work on your personal growth at the same pace. Some days/weeks/months you will be able to make it a priority, and at other times it will be more complicated. If you know how important it is and you are determined to grow, you will take the time one way or another.

Here are additional resources to kickstart your development: