Learning on the job

Its not a question of “can you”, but more a question of “when can you”.

I’m sure that most people would agree that having a job that you can continue learning on is a very good thing. Also, most people would agree that in web development, learning on the job is pretty much a requirement.

But where does one find the time to learn when there are project deadlines, client review, meetings, and the dozens of other tidbits of work to be done? On your lunch break? After hours? My boss regularly forwards articles and such that explain the latest technology of this or that, the newest JS prototype, or something really nifty that he’s been working on (which btw Boss, the new WP is flipping awesome!).

Now I’m sure that everyone has a boss or coworker that forwards stuff like this to your group, but do you take the time to read it thoroughly or just give it a once over? I try to read them through but I usually don’t have time (or attention span, sometimes) to read them as well as I would like. My question, then, is how much of your working day should you set aside for learning and study about your given profession?

Google allows, almost requires, employees to spend 20% of their day for experimenting and exploration into new things and for learning. This is great, but not all of us are Google employees. So for those of us that don’t have a Google ID badge, we pretty much have to decide what we can justifiably use of our “companies time” to put towards learning.

I would say that in my company (to whom, by the way, I am eternally loyal :) ) I could justify an hour of every day to devout to exploring new tech or refining my skills in certain areas. I have a crap tonne of del.icio.us bookmarks just gagging to be clicked and having a devoted hour in which to check them all out would, I think, prove very beneficial in the long run for the company as well as myself. Eventually, if I can clear out all of my late projects that is, I could set aside more time of the day for this purpose, but I believe an hour is a good start for me and most people. Perhaps after lunch? Perhaps first thing before work?

What times would you think work best? If you already have a study time set aside when is it and what works for you? I’m sure my boss will chime in as he subscribes to this blog, but what do you, the non-bosses or the world, do for learning on the job?


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