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6 Ways to Use Downtime to Advance Your Career

6 Ways to Use Downtime to Advance Your Career

 

You probably have more time on your hands during the holidays. This is a great opportunity to relax and take a break. And, it's also a good time to look back at the past year and look forward to the coming one. What goals do you want to refine? What changes will you make to advance your career?

 

As you think about the coming year and the ways you can make career changes, consider adding these six tasks to your list:

 

1. Create a Career Action Plan

What would you like to change about where your career is heading? Would you like to stay on the track you're on or would you prefer to do something entirely different? What training do you need?
 
Use your downtime to figure out the path you want to be on and start mapping out a career action plan. Having some extra time on your hands will give you ample time to review and look ahead without feeling rushed. With this extra time, you'll likely be able to fully focus on specific milestones you want to reach and the action steps need to achieve them.
 
Use an app like Mindmeister to brainstorm changes you'd like to make. Then, start building your plan in a digital notebook like Evernote or project app like Trello. That way, you can access your plan no matter where you are.
 

2. Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your digital resume. It tells others about the types of experiences you've had and the skills you possess. If that information is outdated, you may miss out on career opportunities and the ability to network with leaders in your industry and other professionals.
 
As you review your LinkedIn profile, decide how you want it to help you. Are you looking for employment opportunities, to build your professional network, or to find your ideal clients? Knowing how you want to use your profile will help you refine it to attract the people and opportunities you're interested in receiving.
 
Be sure that ensure that you're also using a professional profile photo, that your summary is accurate and complete, and that you've highlighted significant achievements.
 
Consider including:
  • Volunteer experience (if you haven't volunteered, perhaps you should start!)
  • Languages you speak
  • Videos (if applicable)
  • Recommendations from others
  • Work that you've published
  • Honors and awards you've received
Once you're satisfied with your profile, move on to your other social profiles and revise them as necessary. Remember, your online presence gives others an initial perception of who you are, so spend some time making sure they are a good reflection of who you are.
 

3. Build Relationships With Professional Contacts

One of the benefits of refining your social media profiles is that you're likely to connect with others. That said, while social networking can be helpful, meeting in person with influencers and professional contacts in your industry is very important.
 
  • Networking events. Start a list of local networking events and be strategic about the ones that you'll attend. Pull out your calendar and add the events you've selected.
  • One-on-One meetings. Think about other professionals that you may want to get to know better, or perhaps form partnerships with. Schedule one-on-one llunch or coffee meetings to further that goal, and always be clear about the purpose of your meetings. You should also leave each meeting with a follow up action step.
  • Mastermind groups. Joining a mastermind group can help you form meaningful business relationships and help you achieve your goals. Look to your social  networks and industry related forums to find mastermind or accountability groups.
 

4. Improve Upon a Current Skill

Do you know what your best skills are? What about those that you may want to improve upon? Taking time to look at ways you can improve is a productive way to spend your downtime.
 
Having a list readily available will help you keep your improvement goals top of mind so you can keep track of them. Open your digital notebook and create a a list of all your skills, knowledge, and other assets to get a good sense of your experience as well as areas you'd like to enhance. As project management professional, you may want to improve upon leadership, organization, risk management, and other skills.
 
Once you've created your improvement list, also include online and on-site trainings, workshops, and seminars that can help you strengthen your skills and expertise.
 

5. Work on an Advanced Degree or Certification

In addition to taking seminars and workshops related to your field of work, an advanced degree or certification (like CAPM® or PMP®) can show the importance you place on your career, add value to your resume, and make you more attractive to prospective employers and partners.
 
Research local education programs that meet or exceed your industry's standards. Review the required coursework as well as time investment needed to complete this goal. This means you'll need to consider the changes you will need to make to your schedule and how it may impact your current workflow (and employer, too).
 
Of course, if you're already enrolled in a program, using downtime to review upcoming materials and assignments is a great way to get a head start before your classes resume.
 

6. Attend an Industry Conference

Attending a conference directly related to your niche -- like the 18th Annual Project Management Symposium hosted by the PMI Mile Hi Chapter --  will allow you to:
 
  • Keep up with current trends
  • Learn from accomplished speakers
  • Connect with pioneers, leaders, and other professionals in your industry
  • Bring value to your organization or business
  • Get motivated and inspired
  • Invest in you and your career
 
Of course, you could attend as a speaker yourself. This would be a great opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field. And, when you're not speaking, there will be lots of chances to participate in breakout workshops and to network with your peers.
 
Going to conferences comes with another added benefit: meeting sponsors, vendors, and suppliers who may offer innovative products and services that can help you do what you do better.
 
How will you use your downtime to advance your career? Please share in the comments.
 
Today's post was written by content marketer and productivity consultant, Deb Lee, CPO®..

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