It’s really easy to get behind on the newest trends in your field. Some careers demand constant refreshing due to updates in technology and information, while others evolve more slowly. Identifying how often and how much your career field changes is the easy part, however. Actually keeping up is the hard bit. But never fear! Here are eight ways to keep your skills up to date.

1. Stick with your skill set.

There is a difference between staying with one particular skill set and sticking to an old version of that skill set. Don’t refresh yourself on skills that you don’t really use that often. Identify what you work on specifically and try to stay within that. You’ll want to keep the scope of skills that need updating small. That way, it’s easier to manage.

2. Make a plan.

You’ll need to make a plan for how to update your skills. With work and everything else going on in your life, it’s important to schedule your refreshers into your routine. Once you’ve scheduled it, you’re more likely to actually get it done.

3. Surround yourself with positive people.

There will always be a group of people at any given job that won’t believe in updating their skills. Some professionals are simply old fashioned and don’t believe their skills need updating. Others choose to forgo refreshers because they think it’s a sign of weakness. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who feel the same way that you do. It’s helpful to have a support system.

4. Learn by observation.

It’s possible that the people around you might know things that you don’t. Ask others what they’re doing or what they think about a particular problem at work. You might just learn something new without ever having to leave the office. Take advantage of the opportunities around you.

5. Stay focused.

Try not to get distracted by other things at work. It’s hard to keep freshening your skills, so make it as easy on yourself as possible. Don’t attempt to do too many things at once, because that will just leave less attention for each thing on your plate. Pace yourself and focus on one thing at a time. Use your schedule to guide you.

6. Take classes.

There are a lot of classes available for professionals looking to update and improve their skills. There’s no shame in needing a little extra guidance. Plus, classes are great because you’re guaranteed feedback from the instructor. That way, you know you’re on the right track. If you don’t have enough time to take a full course on the subject, consider signing up for a conference or seminar. You can get a ton of information in just a few days (or only one).

7. Catch up on your news.

Often, trends in different fields make the news. Check up on print and online sources for the newest information in your career field. It’s a great way to quickly learn about new ideas in the area without committing to something long term. It’s also something you can do in your free time or as a leisure activity.

8. Practice.

If you encounter something new that you’d like to try or research, go for it. Learning by doing is one of the most effective ways you can update your skills. Whether this means testing out a new software, experimenting with a modern management style, or practicing a new piece of music, tailor it to your interests and have fun with it. Just because it’s work, doesn’t mean it has to be…work!

Featured photo credit: Mo Riza via flickr.com

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