How to Maximize your Personal Growth Time

The most common reason I hear as to why a leader does not invest in personal growth is because they don’t have the time for it. Personal growth does not happen by chance but requires a few key ingredients. Personal growth must be:

  • Prioritized- Turning it into one of your top priorities.
  • Planned- Your growth must be scheduled into your days.
  • Specific- To the skills and abilities you want to develop.
  • Implemented- You must follow through with your growth plan.

Leaders can increase their personal growth by making minor adjustments in their time and days. Here are 3 tips for you, a busy leader, on how to implement more personal growth.

1. Wake up or stay up 15 minutes later-

Carving out just 15 minutes a day for personal growth will equal 1 hour and 45 minutes a week and 7 hours a month. This small investment can produce a huge return on your life and leadership. I recommend setting your alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier or staying up for an extra 15 minutes to engage in personal growth. The benefit to morning growth is that it prepares you for the day. The benefit to evening growth is that your subconscious mind will be thinking about what you learned while you’re sleeping.

2. Take advantage of your breaks at work-

During your breaks you can read several blog posts or listen to a chapter from an audio book (I use several phone apps to do this). You can begin to do this by planning to grow yourself 2-3 breaks a week, I call them growth breaks. What about your lunch time? Most people get between 30-60 minutes for a lunch break. You can arrange a coaching or mentoring session during your lunch time, either meeting the person for a face-to-face lunch or talking with them over the phone or video chat. Maximize your growth time by taking advantage of your breaks.

3. Make it a team effort-

Turning personal growth into a team effort can allow yourself and your entire team to grow. When I was working with youth in drug & alcohol as a Youth Care Specialist, my supervisor would have weekly individual and team meetings with her staff. Those times greatly helped me because I was taking on more leadership responsibilities. My supervisor provided me with advice and mentorship, which I then implemented into my leadership role. I suggest being intentional about helping your people grow and learn during both individual and group meetings. Creating a culture of personal growth will benefit everyone.

Questions: Can you add to the list? How do you implement more personal growth into your busy life?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.seannisil.com/ Sean Nisil

    To your first point–I’m a huge fan of incremental change. If we make those small, daily changes, they can lead to substantial change over time! Great post Dan.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Hello Sean,

      Me too! It’s amazing how those small choices can lead to huge results. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.psycholocrazy.com/ jamie flexman

    I find personal growth comes from cutting out the fat. Like you say, prioritize what you want to do but also cut away the stuff that is holding you back.

    Easier said than done though!

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Yes, we have to cut away something in order for us to make time for growth. The key is to find the areas to key. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    First, let me say I agree with both Jamie & Sean in their comments. Cutting way the extra (simplifying) along with implementing small changes that over time add up to make a huge difference are essential for growth. Adding to this, and you get at this with point about it needing to be planned, I would emphasize making it habitual. Since we should never stop growing, it needs to be a habit, something that is as much a part of our lives as brushing our teeth. Just needs to be in our everyday habits.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      I agree with them as well:) They added some great points.

      YES, turning growth into a habit is so essential. Doing so allows it to become natural. I automatically turn on an audio book when I get into my car for my drive to work. Thank you for adding to the discussion. I appreciate you!

  • http://leadershipheartcoaching.com/ Bill Benoist /Leadership Heart

    This is a timely piece because I have been working with my staff during the past two weeks, helping them create personal performance plans for 2014.

    These plans are quite flexible depending upon the employee and what he or she wants to focus on during the year, but I always request one of the focus points be on personal development. These can be leadership classes, business writing, emotional intelligence, even advanced Excel.

    My job is to hold them accountable during our quarterly meetings :-)

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Your such a great leader for making sure your people are growing and learning! I like the idea about putting one of the focus point on personal development. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • http://www.barbraveling.com/ Barb Raveling

    What struck me is how much you can accomplish in short periods of time. I would think this would hold true for personal growth as well as physical growth – exercise, weight lifting, etc.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      I totally agree, small amounts of anything can lead to huge results. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • http://theregoi.com/ floyd

    Good list, Dan. Love your attitude! Only thing that comes to mind would just be keeping an eye out for others that are doing what you desire to do and picking their brains every chance you get. Amazing that there’s something to be learned from everybody.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Great addition, getting advice and counsel is so essential. I’ve grown so much from talking with other authors and bloggers (like yourself). It’s amazing what happens when we start asking good questions. Thank you for adding to the post!

  • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

    TO go along with the last point would be this. Grow as a family. Doing fun things as a family that help us grow is great. Good post Dan

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      YES, growing as a family is so important. Thank you for adding that great addition. How do you grow with your family?

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Solid tips, I would add saying No a lot more. Too often we say yes to things we can’t take on right now and that adds to the chaos!

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      I agree, being willing to say no so we can say yes to the right things is essential. It’s something we have to be willing to do. Thank you for adding that:)

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    For me waking up early is vital. I try to get up at least an hour before my family wakes up, that gives me time that I mainly use for writing.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Getting up early is important, especially if a person has kids:) Thank you for taking the time to share how you carve out time for growth.

  • http://www.startgainingmomentum.com/ Ludvig Sunström

    I think the mentoring/coachin during lunch break tip is genius, Dan!

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Glad you enjoyed that tip:) Now it’s time to implement it into your life!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve really taken advantage of #2. My lunch breaks are an hour long. Time to eat? Maybe a couple of minutes to no more than 15. What to do with the rest of the time? Fill it with personal growth.

    Another thing you can do is, as Zig Ziglar used to say, join automobile university. Play personal development material in your car as you commute to and from work. The average person spends more time in their car than they did in the classroom. Perfect time to level up your knowledge.

    • http://www.crazyenoughtotry.com/ Ryan Bonaparte

      I’m with Joe on those two ideas. I spend most lunch hours at a nearby Starbucks either writing or taking the time to think and plan. I also use my time driving in the same way, minus the writing. So many podcasts to learn from, and when I’m not in the mood, some quiet time to think.

      • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

        That’s fantastic Ryan!

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      That’s great Joe, I’m sure you have done a lot of growth while on your lunch breaks then. Keep it up!

      Great additional point about using our car for personal growth. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • http://www.leadtoimpact.com/ Bernard Haynes

    Excellent advice. I personally use 1 and 2. I am tired of people using the excuse, “I don’t have enough time’. We always make the time to do what is important to us.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Me too Bernard! Everyone has the same amount of time in a day, we just need to make time for it. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • Betty Draper

    Good points brother for anything one is trying to achieve. Learning to order ones day is a huge thing we worked on with the new missionaries that came to the field. I especially worked with the young wife helping them realize they could cook from scratch with a little order and they could learn a new language with a little order to their day. Honest we seen good couples have to go home because of this one issue that showed up quickly when there is nothing of convenience to fall back on. When these ladies learned just to cook meals ahead and put in freezer for those days when someone else orders your day or the plane cannot get in with your fresh supplies they usually did it. When you live remote you must make your own conveniences. Think I will copy your post for further use. Thanks.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Hello Betty,

      I think America would be healthier if we cook more meals from home, It takes longer and requires planning, but it’s better food. Thank you for sharing an example from your own life. I hope you enjoy the blog:) Thank you for your comment.

  • Dawn

    Maximizing personal time is critical for leaders. Get insight from a rising leader on where to find your “sweet spot”, right between brainstorming and production. See taysnodgrass.wordpress.com “Think On The Line”

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Great points, Dawn! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • http://ayearofproductivity.com/ Chris Bailey

    I agree with you on your first point–the only way to make time for personal development is to schedule time for it! I think a lot of people like to play games with themselves and keep pushing back commitments on their to-do list, but by simply carving out time for something by scheduling it, you can almost always make sure you get it done. :) (One caveat, though: I don’t think sleeping less is the way to find this time; I think there are more than enough hours in the day to develop and learn.)

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Hello Chris,

      I totally agree about your caveat. My suggestions was based on if a person already was getting enough sleep during the night (at least 7-8 hours). We should avoid carving time from our sleeping time since sleep is so crucial for our life/health/energy level. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    You’ve touched on this before, but commute time is a big time waster if you allow it to be. The challenge I believe for a lot of folks is how to put what they’ve consumed into action. How do you take those extra 15 minutes per day of information, and implement one of those concepts?

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Yes, using our commute time for personal growth is so essential. Great question. We have to turn our learning into action/implementing. It’s why I try to learn in the morning so I can then apply what I have learned throughout the day. It’s been a great benefit, especially working with youth. Thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion.

      • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

        Great elaboration Dan. I think that it could be a pretty helpful thing to others to help showcase ways that you successfully consume information, while also actually applying it. Darren Hardy in the Success magazines seems to do a good job of trying to provide it. With all the information we have out there – it’s not always about knowledge, but application of the knowledge.

        • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

          I agree, Darren Hardy is a great person who always does seem to teach applied learning. i love his Success Magazines!

          • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

            I’m a huge fan too (as you know). Was listening to one of their cd’s during this morning’s commute. Have a great day!

            • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

              Awesome, Since you gave me a Success Magazine I’ve started getting them:)

              • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

                You just made my day Dan!

                • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

                  :)

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    For me, I enjoy growing and reading to become better. It’s an activity that energizes me. So I try to schedule these activities for times during my day when I’m drained and not up for much else. That not only helps me make sure to grow but it helps me stay productive during the other times as well.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Great idea Loren, personal growth defiantly does inspire and bring energy. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

    I don’t see personal growth as something you necessarily need to make time for. It can happen at any time throughout the day. Little changes or tweaks to your habits can add up over time. You might not even need 15 minutes a day, you could do it in even less time.

    But if you’re looking to do some reading or confidence building stuff, you’ll probably need more time to do that. I think just being aware of any downtime can help. If you have a spare few minutes before a meeting or while you’re waiting for someone, pull out a book. I get a ton of reading done in waiting rooms or while I’m waiting for people. It all adds up.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      I think most people need to make it a priority because if they don’t then it won’t get done. The amount of time does not necessary matter but the learning and taking action on what we learned is key.

      Me too, those usually wasted minuted can allow us to grow and learn. Yes, it does “all add up!” Thank you for sharing:)

  • http://www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com/ Joshua Rivers

    I have tried to use my lunch breaks at work to take care of the various readings I have. Sometimes it a book, sometimes I try to catch up on blogs I follow. Sometimes I take time to do some writing as well.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Those are great ways to use your lunch time. Keep it up! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • http://thoughthouse.org/ Micah

    The 15 minutes tip is one I’m going to start implementing. I remember some years ago giving myself an interval of time both before I went to sleep and immediately after waking up which really benefitted me and helped me to retain information much more readily but I’ve since drifted away from what had proven itself to be a good habit. Funny how the good habits can seem so difficult to maintain. That point on developing a culture around growth is one I’d love you to write more on, Dan. It’s something I’m very interested in at the moment. And a practice I’m wanting to build into a church community group I’ve recently started to lead. Any advice or methods you might have would be really helpful.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      That’s great! I try to spend time in the morning and evening for growth, it’s really helped me. What a great topic to write more about. Let’s talk over the phone/video chat about that topic. Email me at danblackonleadership@gmail.com and we can figure out a time and date.