Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ways for At-Home Parents to Keep Skills Current

Being ambitious about working part-time and fitting another life (in my case, raising a family) is not easy, but I think technology is a key way of staying current and creating that life for ourselves.

Explore Online Training. I've got continuing ed credits to do each year to maintain my national certification as a counselor, and online training has become an easy way to tackle it. Common sources are your career's national and state associations, and private vendors recommended by those associations. Last year I did more than half of my credits online in evenings. But even if you don't have a continuing ed requirement, parents can keep a log and do the trainings on their own, so when they're headed back to work, they have documented proof of their up-to-date skills.

Can Skype serve you? I've mentioned a number of times that Skype is a way I fit work in to my days without dealing with a long commute. Now there are fitness classes by Skype. Lifehacker has more great tips on remote work and Skype.

Be a Groupie. I get mildly obsessed with certain leaders in my field who I believe are on the right track. It's my version of my own career advice to never forget your heroes. My longtime hero, John Krumboltz out of Stanford, recently released a book about failing, and I'm plowing through it during snack times. Set up Google to search automatically for your heroes in the news. Read what they have to say, and who they recommend. Follow them on Twitter, if they Tweet.

Protect Your Brain from Tech Overload. I think one of the biggest benefits of being home with my kids is all the free bandwidth my brain has. Yes, the early months of parenthood are tough, and I didn't do a lot of quality thinking on four hours of sleep a night. But if you're past that stage, a parent's day with small children can leave a lot of room for thought, room that working people don't have. The key, though, is avoiding the time-sinks of Facebook and other Web surfing. A journal is your friend here. One of those Moleskin books does it for me. The key is to capture your idea before it is drowned out by a screaming toddler, and then pursue it in the evening, when the kids are asleep. Don't worry about spacing out, it's proven to be good for your creativity!

By taking control of my career development, the panic about skill atrophy is easing up for me. I can plan for ways to develop my ideas, and who knows, I may end up someplace, professionally, I never thought I'd go.

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