A learning log is a fantastic quick win for eager learners.

Use a learning log to find time for learning!

The world is moving fast and communications are making it even faster. Many of us already have learnt to react by quickly dancing to the tune of the phone or computer for each new text or e-mail message.  This frenetic activity is making it harder to think (with its impact on learning) in the workplace.


E-mail can make us hugely productive on the on hand whilst on the other we waste time ploughing through others people e-mails and other people’s agendas.

If that wasn’t bad enough many leaders have opened up their diaries to all and sundry resulting in a “how many back to back meetings can I fit in a day competition”. 


A leader said to me recently when talking about their heavy workload and a specific new project “Fortunately I don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about this because I know what needs to be done”


Are we are creating workplace environments that value “busy-ness”  and make thinking and learning harder?


“Not having enough time” is just about the number one issue for many of the leaders I coach and work with. 


Just think about it


  • and if you are not thinking
  • you are not learning as well as you could be.
  • and if you are not learning as well as you could be
  • you are missing opportunities to create new ideas and
  • you are missing opportunities to lift your performance


The amount of information is growing exponentially much faster than most peoples capability to keep up. Never has it be more important to make the decision ”No I am not going to read or action that now”  if you want to maximise your learning capability you need create some thinking and reflection time.  


If you find your self working long hours and still doing the important thinking work stuff at home, these 4 simple tips to help your thinking your focus and your learning.

These ideas are about getting some thinking time, and then allocating that time to focus on priorities and learning.They use lists and a learning log approach.

Issue 1 No time to think

Tip 1: Book 2 1/4 hours with yourself each week.

If you don’t have time to think and prioritise you run the danger of being pushed and pulled by everybody else’s agendas. Even if you feel that is a large part of your role the chances are you still have critical things that you and the organisation want to achieve.

Split this into 15 minutes a day and a separate 1 hour session once a week when you are fresh. The 15 minute sessions are for daily prioritisation the weekly hour is for broader, longer term and creative thinking definitely not catch up time or operational thinking.

Book it out 3 months ahead in your diary and set a review date at 12 weeks and be committed to maintaining that time.

more on active learning here

Issue. Losing focus
Tip 2: Make a focus list

What are you trying to achieve? What makes you happy? What's important to you?

Where is learning in your priorities? Design your time around those things. Because time is your one limited resource and no matter how hard you try you can't work 24 hours 7 days a week.

Look at it each day during your 15 minutes with yourself.


Issue: Losing time

Tips 3 make a distractions list

Take a bit of time to reflect on your work days and where the time goes. Bet you find some distractions in their things that you choose to do but don’t really need to be done right there and then.  Could be related to the web surfing research (yeah right) reviewing blogs and social media or maybe starting to tidy your overloaded e-mail box. This is the equivalent of clearing the desk before your work. Admirable yes but often used as an excuse for procrastination. You can add phone calls texts e-mails chatting into this list. Look I am not saying don’t do all these things but I am saying be aware of where you are spending your time and balance your efforts in these areas against your priorities.


There you have it use your booked time each day to review your focus and distraction list.  Review them each morning, along with your calendar, and ask: what's the plan for today? Where will I spend my time? How will it further my focus? When will I complete my learning log, How might I get distracted? Then find the courage to follow through, make choices, and maybe disappoint a few people.


learning log

Issue: Not capturing learning

Tip 4 Use a learning log.

Writing down notes on your experiences to encourage reflection is a under used reflective tool. (Although it is a technique being picked up on MBA programmes these days).

A learning log allows you to systemise your learning and give it more focused attention. It can be completed after the fact after a particular learning opportunity.

and may be part of an individual development plan. It can allow managers to review their learning from different paints of view and so helps them integrate their activities and additional learning needs.

Here is a simple example of a learning log based on Honey and Mumford’s active learning cycle. You add your notes in order 1 to 4.


more on a learning log here

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