Ah, training – a great way to pass a day or so. No ringing phones, aggravating clients, or bad canteen dinners and over-brewed coffee — at least for a few hours. Instead, you get time to reflect, learn new skills and bounce ideas off peers from other organizations. You may even get free food! If you have a particularly engaging trainer, especially dazzling course content, or both, you’ll come away fired up, with your creative gray matter just tingling, eager to put some of the brilliant new ideas you’ve learned into practice.
So you arrive back at your office the next day full of bounce and springtime – only to be met with humdrum every-day realities. Your best team has left. You have a sales meeting at 10 a.m. And worst of all, the coffee maker has given up the ghost. Before long, you’re trying to coax your reluctant computer, under attack from 1,002 little tasks, back into life. So how do you keep up yesterday’s sense of creativity and make the most of your training once you’re back in the workplace?
Here are 5 tips that will help:
#1 – Read over the notes you made.
If you’re lucky enough to attend a stimulating training course, it’s likely you have made notes using an iPad or other tablet, or in the time-honored, old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, put the phones on voicemail, get out your highlighter pen, and highlight the words and ideas that jump out at you. And whatever you do, do not keep your email client open.. If it isn’t possible set yourself a reminder to check your email every two hours or so. We all know you are important, but nothing terrible will happen if you do not reply the minute an email arrives, trust me.
#2 – Prioritize your ideas.
Once you’ve got your notes highlighted, decide which of those ideas are the most important. Choose no fewer than five, no more than ten, and rank them from 1, the most important, to 10, the least important. You can choose which will give you the quickest “quick win,” or which will have the most impact on your company’s market share, content or search engine ranking. Make a note in your diary or in your online calendar to check your progress at a future date, and set concrete actions for yourself.
#3 – Share your ideas.
If you’re lucky enough to have like-minded colleagues, share a summary of your training with them. Some workplaces may require this as part of your continuing professional development. The best way to learn something is to teach it, so if you can find a keen co-worker, teaching them what you’ve learned is an excellent way to understand what you’ve learned. Ask your team for their input on your ideas, or ask for ten minutes at your next staff meeting to pass on the best of the ideas. You could even be exceptionally democratic and ask for votes on which are the most workable. If you work on your own, or you don’t have sympathetic co-workers, then check if there’s a forum or a social network group or a follow-up email group from your training day. All of this helps to keep momentum.
#4 – Read more.
In this day and age follow up doesn’t come in traditional book form – in fact, it’s highly likely it won’t. But further reading, whether in the form of a book from the library, an industry related Blog, Twitter feed or a video on YouTube, can help you consolidate and crystallize your ideas and generate new ones. And whatever you do, keep a record of the websites you visit, preferably with your training notes.
#5 – Book yourself into another training course.
Before the week is over, take a look to see what follow-up training courses might be available, and book yourself into one. My favorites are MozCon, Distilled Conferences LinkLove & SearchLove, SMX and SES.
Whatever you do – don’t just file your course notes in a box and go back to working life as it was; that defeats the object of the training. Remember: if the world around you gets faster and more frenetic, slow down, drink the coffee, and implement your new ideas.
Schedule of upcoming events I recommend:
- MozCon – July 25-27, 2012 in Seattle
- SearchLove – June 18–19, 2012 in San Francisco
- SMX Advanced – June 5–6, 2012 in Seattle
- SES – August 13-17, 2012 in San Francisco