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Golden Guide Career Advice: Use Your Time Wisely

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 16: Make Use of Your Minutes

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

You may feel that your time is constrained by school, family or work commitments, and you may imagine that you lack any free time. But it’s almost surely the case that you can control some portion of your time. Be intentional and make good choices with those minutes, however few they may seem to be!

Over time, you can accomplish a lot working just a few minutes a day or week on a project or idea. You can always learn something new—even something that seems insurmountably hard—if you break it into steps and apply yourself diligently.

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Throughout your career, you must keep developing new skills so that you are prepared for any opportunities that come your way. This ongoing personal skills development program is the backbone of a successful effort to build up your career capital.

What sorts of skills should you develop? Look at the job requirements for the positions you hope to move into next, and at the credentials of the people who hold those jobs now. You should also follow up on subjects that may have come up in your informational interviews.

Here are some categories to consider as you think about how to structure your own continuing education program:

  • New computer skills, including data analytics.
  • Project management certifications.
  • Common office software, including programs such as MailChimp, Hootsuite or InDesign.
  • Any specific certifications that are related to your discipline.
  • New languages—human and computer.
  • Any passion projects—playing new sports; culinary or woodworking classes; or art such as painting, collage or pottery.

Once you are out of school, no one is going to tell you what to study or learn. And it’s totally up to you whether you want to learn about one or more new things, which means it’s in your control. Every day, you decide who you are going to be and what you are going to learn about—so make good choices and carpe diem.

Image courtesy of Pexels.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.