Professional Development - Previous Blogs

Help, I'm Suffering From Information Overload!!

Help, I'm Suffering From Information Overload!!

The budget for professional development was recently reduced in my department. The amount each person could spend on professional development varied from one fiscal year to the next, some years were lower but we all benefitted from a good average amount to invest. Most of us chose to attend conferences, as in-person classes or courses can get pricey when traveling and lodging are added to the equation. We tried to stretch our budget for one local conference and one that required traveling. Every precious dollar and penny counted, but we still enjoyed some flexibility; with this change in funding it was time to be more creative in order to keep the knowledge flowing!

I work in IT, a programmer by trade, so it is second nature to me to turn to the internet for answers. I searched ‘professional development on a budget’, and thought I would see lists of websites where people can register for free courses, or ideas on how to get cheap training, or even self-teaching videos of some sort. Instead I got plenty of articles directed to employers on how to make budgets for professional development and only one article listing 50 cheap classes anyone could take1. Fifty seemed like a good number. I was excited to check the content, and very soon I realized fifty was quiet overwhelming. Not all topics listed were of interest to me and quite a few were completely irrelevant. I decided to switch terms on my search and started looking for ‘free online classes’, ‘free online trainings’, and similar phrases. The results that came up were more familiar to me but they brought many additional questions with them. How to pick the best option? What is the most effective way of learning? Where to find reviews? Soon after a few clicks and searches I was going down the rabbit hole!

Each link grew into an endless path of possibilities, I was not using my time to learn but trying to determine the “right” way of learning, trying to pick the best of the best. Lots to read, questions, endless options, I was definitely suffering from information overload. Instead of trying one more search and risk having my brain explode I took a deep breath and decided to focus on why professional development was important to me. I then tried to develop a strategy that worked for me. These steps helped getting my ideas and thoughts in order and I hope they help you in case you start suffering from information overload.

  • Define what growth means to you! You are the one who knows best where you want to be within a few months or a few years, it is very personal. Someone who will retire soon has different goals than a person with a young family. Remember, not all growth is vertical! Especially in higher education where a myriad of disciplines come together to build community, keep your mind open. Our own HR offers Career Services & Coaching to help you with your plan.
  • Think outside of the internet! Good learning opportunities exist in the real world, consider of all the college classes available through GVSU. If a semester length commitment is not realistic, there are meetups and groups to get connected with people in a certain field. Reaching out to strangers might be challenging, you can start connecting from within the circles you already move in. Your place of worship can be a place to grow your skills, or places and causes you already volunteer for. Public speaking, public relationships, event planning, curriculum development, fund rising, and many others are common needs of smaller organizations. Working with student organizations on campus can help you improve your supervisory and mentorship skills.
  • Set up a realistic timeline! Successful commitments are all about balance, enjoy life, enjoy the process, and keep moving forward with your overall goal front and center. The most valuable resource you have is your own time, do you –have– to watch another episode of that TV show? What else can you do in those 30 minutes? Make sure you invest on things that will be relevant tomorrow, or one year or five years from now.

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Page last modified June 2, 2020