Learning to use my time more effectively

  • One of the advantages of being a freelance writer is that people are rather keen to pick your brains and use your skills for a variety of things – and sometimes this means being given access to great tools and resources that can be helpful in your own personal development. I’ve always been interested to see how e-learning works, and thanks to an associate of mine, I recently had the chance to try an e-learning course of my choosing.

    The e-learning platform I was invited to use was High Speed Training and I was able to choose whichever course I wanted. There are several different areas for training, but I focused on the Professional Skills section, as this seemed most relevant to my occupation. Looking through the options, I decided that the business writing skills course was probably a waste of time, as I like to think that I’m already rather well versed in that particular department! The one thing that I sometimes struggle with as a freelancer though is time management – so I decided that the Time Management Training Course was the one for me.

    High Speed E-Learning

    When I first logged onto the High Speed Training website, I was pleased to see that the course was broken down into several different modules, allowing me to fit my training in with my other commitments – see, excellent time management already! However, once I started getting into it, and because the course really is high-speed, before I knew it I was whizzing through the modules and was over half-way through. I was told that the estimated completion time is a couple of hours, but I think I probably completed the whole thing in about an hour and a half, maybe less.

    The course is a PowerPoint style presentation with simultaneous audio delivery. Personally, I preferred to just read the text myself, so after 5 or 10 minutes, I muted the audio and just worked through it at my own pace. Obviously, people have different learning styles, so some people would absorb the information more thoroughly if they listened to the voiceover. As a writer and avid Kindle lover, I’d rather read than listen, and this approach does mean that you can work through the course more quickly. The course has been designed to ensure that you can’t skip to the next page until all the text has been revealed too, so you don’t need to worry about missing anything.

    Although I found that the course was probably aimed more at people working in larger organisations and managers, I still picked up some great tips. Some of it is basic common-sense, but it’s good to consolidate your knowledge and be reminded of things you should be more aware of.

    So what did I learn?

    One of the pieces of information that stood out to me was in the section related to planning. I’m one of nature’s list-makers, but sometimes I’m rushing around so much that I file things away mentally instead. I learnt that we only have the mental capacity to work with about 7 pieces of information at a time without losing something, which made me feel even more committed to keeping lists!

    The course also divulged an interesting statistic; apparently, a 2008 survey found that out of 2500 employees questioned, 73% admitted to wasting time at work – and these days, much of this is due to social media and non-work related emails. This made me take stock of my own online habits. While Twitter is a useful tool for me in regards to my professional life, Facebook brings me no work and yet I tune in and out of it all day – despite setting myself limits using Chrome’s StayFocusd. If I were to pinpoint the single most useful thing that I’ll take away from this course, it will be that I’m closing my Facebook account for the foreseeable future in order to keep myself on track with the job in hand.

    I also liked the section that looked at definitions and the importance of differentiating between urgent jobs and important jobs. Urgent jobs are deadline-based, while the importance of the job pertains to the quality of output, and therefore the amount of time you want to spend on it. This has helped me to reframe my task list and see it in a different light. The course also talked about how, in order to work out where different tasks fit, you need to decide whether a task needs doing now, needs to be planned, delegated or deleted altogether. I just wish I had someone to delegate to sometimes!

    Finally, the course taught me the benefits of learning to say ‘no’ with tact. I spend a lot of time doing people favours when I should be working to meet a (paid) deadline. There’s nothing wrong with helping people, but perhaps I need to put my task list first and deal with those additional requests when more convenient.

    In all, the High Speed Training course was really valuable – and the quiz at the end ensures that you pay attention, while also showing you what you’ve absorbed through the process. The fast nature of the training is great for those with little time to spare and there’s a great selection of course categories, including Health and Safety, Food Hygiene and Safeguarding People.

    Thanks for reading – I’m off to manage my time more effectively now while I want for my certificate to arrive!


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