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Learn in the Margins

By Steve Jones,

Investing in yourself is key to growing in your career and enjoying the rest of your life. You should invest in your knowledge, and I've written about the need to constantly improve your skills over time. I know you need to think about your financial future as well and make sure you are looking forward to the day when you might not want to work full time in technology. I've also written that you need to make some personal investments in your health to be sure that you are around to enjoy a long life.

I saw this post about finding exercise in life's margins. Taking the stairs, or walking while on the phone. Small things that allow you to fit in some movement around the rest of your life. That's a great way to improve your health without making drastic changes in your life. Consider a standing desk, something I'm experimenting with, but look to find ways to take care of yourself while balancing the most limited resource you have: time.

The idea of finding ways to exercise in the margins of your life makes me think this might be a good way to improve your knowledge as well. Are there margins of time in your day when you can learn something? Perhaps you can take 5 less minutes at lunch a few times a week and browse through forums, looking to answer some question on your own and try to improve your T-SQL. Maybe you spend an hour on Sunday morning, browsing through Database Weekly and reading a few blog posts about topics that interest you. Maybe you take the last 10 minutes of the day and read a book on T-SQL. It might take you all year to get through the book, but that's one more book you'd finish this year. If you have a commute, download the MCM videos from SQLskills and listen on the way.

Life is busy, and life is hard, and life is often something that happens when you're making all kinds of other plans. It's hard to fit in big projects or concentrated efforts to improve your career, but maybe you can find a little time in the margins and find a way to improve your skills without taking too much time away from the rest of your life.

Steve Jones

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