According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics 2011 Time Use Survey, Americans spent an average of 6 minutes per day on education (which we consider professional development) while they tallied an average of 2 hours and 52 minutes every day on leisure activities (see cool graphic from NPR).
The average American spent almost as much time on leisure activities in one day as they did on education for an entire month (3 hours)! If you look even further, Americans spent 1 hour and 34 minutes per day of this leisure time watching television.
These numbers are of course averages but paint a pretty stark picture of where we spent our time in 2011 and I imagine these are not much better in 2012.
Professional development, education and learning
These numbers and their meaning can be discussed and dissected in a myriad of ways, but lets focus on how the limited time dedicated to education directly impacts professional development. Professional development, education and learning do not end once you graduate from college, but this study seems to generally indicate that after we go to college or obtain our higher degrees we turn off the educational portion of life and turn on the remote.
We’ve all known people who bemoan not making enough money or not having a better job, then go home and watch TV instead of doing something about their state of affairs. They will often blame external circumstances or events for their lack of opportunity and upward mobility.
How can they expect to grow or develop on 6 minutes per day?
Professional development is your responsibility
The key is to accept education, learning and professional development as your responsibility and the core to your growth.
If you want to increase your value, earn more money or obtain the next position you must invest the time necessary to learn even at the expense of your leisure. This is not always easy, but once you accept responsibility for your education, it becomes obvious that now is the time to take a risk and set a challenge to be more, give more and gain greater rewards.
Six tips to help you get started
These tips will give you the jump-start to turn 6 minutes into 30 minutes.
- Take responsibility for your development.
- Look at your vision and values and get back into alignment.
- Set a goal and create a plan.
- Ask yourself, what do you need to know to achieve something more?
- Take one small step (longer than 6 minutes) everyday towards learning.
- Turn off the TV!
It begins with you
There needs to be a broader discussion on how we spend our time and what we are contributing to the greater good but for now, focus on yourself. Once you are righted, take it a step further and encourage others to take responsibility for their development.
Professional development, education and learning can be free. With all the great digital content available today there is no excuse to not get started.