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How to Get the Most Out of Your Training

It can be difficult to reserve the time necessary to attend a training session, whether you train online, or leave your office and go to a classroom.

Sometimes by the time that training session comes around it is for a skill that you truly want and need to master. Here are some tips to help make sure the new information sinks into your brain.

• Take notes. This may seem counter intuitive in our high technology culture, but taking notes, either by hand, or by typing them into a document is a great way to help you remember key points.
• Review your notes during a break. This technique is especially helpful if your training class is spread over several days. After you've had a few minutes away during a prolonged break or when the class is done for the day, take five minutes to review your notes and jot down questions you may have.
• Ask Questions. Sometimes engaging your instructor provides more than clarity. It gives you that extra kernel of information that will help the information stay with you.
• Relate the new information to something familiar. Our brains automatically look for patterns as we learn. Taking time to figure out how new information can be used in your day-to-day life gets you more excited about the knowledge – and helps it stick in your mind.

The way we learn as adults is very different from the way we learned as children. Adults master new skills when they can apply them to knowledge they already have. When you're trying to hook new information into your mind, consider everything you know – don't limit yourself to only work skills or personal skills. Figuring out how new information can be applied to everything you know will help you gain comprehension faster and may just make you more efficient in several areas. Benefitting in more than one part of your life will give you huge returns on the time you invested and may just motivate you to learn more.

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Need a Spa Day? Try a Training Class!

Equating a training class with a spa day may seem like apples and oranges, but the two have more in common than you may think.

For most people a trip to the spa is a special break from the usual and often comes after a period of high stress. People take the day to unwind and not think about anything other than the task at hand, whether that task is getting a massage, a mud bath or something else. Training offers a similar escape, especially if it occurs outside of the office.

Similar to spa policies, most instructors require students to turn off their cell phones. That means the usual distractions don't crop up and students can focus on what is happening in the class room. Even if the training class is advanced, not being tethered to a cell phone or email can go a long way to reduce stress.

A training class that comes after a major deadline or project has been completed can be seen as a reward for employees. They get out of the office and get to learn something new. Not only can this be a reward after a big assignment, employers can benefit, too. Learning a new skill or advancing a current one can spark an idea for an improvement or new project.

Having an employee returning to work excited to put new skills into action is a contagious benefit. Those employees can motivate the co-workers who held down the fort while they were out. Plus, they can develop leadership skills while at work as they pass along their new skills or spearhead the projects they proposed.

A day of training may not look like a day at the spa, but when employees return refreshed and inspired, any manager will be glad they sent their employees out for a day or two.

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Get the Most Out of Training by Scheduling in Advance

Many jobs require continuing education to remain licensed. Doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, engineers and even teachers all have to prove that they are keeping their skills sharp.

Unfortunately, due to busy schedules a lot of us put off that training until the end of the year – a time that is already busy with holidays and deadlines. Scheduling your continuing education classes in advance can give you a number of advantages.

1. Best choices for classes and locations. Certain professions require a specific number of course credits every year, but don't require the course work to happen in specific niches. This means if you work primarily in a niche there may not be a tremendous amount of courses available for you. Registering for those courses early guarantees you a spot in a class that will be both useful and go toward you credit requirement. Some classes are offered at multiple locations. Signing up early gives you the best chance at a class near your home or office, rather than having to travel an hour more.

2. Lower Registration Fees. Many training classes offer an "early bird" savings that can sometimes be as much as 50% off the registration fees. For expensive classes this can be a huge savings. Take it when you can!

3. Take Pressure Off of Yourself. If you are required to complete a specific number of hours annually, planning them throughout the year takes the pressure off you. You can plan your workload and meetings with plenty of notice so that you can focus and get the most out of your class.

4. Leave Room for Re-scheduling. It happens to all of us. Sometimes even the best laid plans develop a kink. Scheduling your classes earlier in the year gives you flexibility in case something comes up. You will have time to reschedule the class, or even retake it if need be.
Putting a little bit of foresight into scheduling your continuing education can reduce stress and save you money. That helps make for a successful training experience.

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What to Look for in a Training Class or Seminar

Here are some tips to help you decide whether a seminar or training class is right for you:

• Timing: Is it an all day event? A breakfast or lunch learning session? A cocktail hour? If a growling stomach can distract your focus, make sure you select a session that either provides food, or is at a time of day when you can make sure you have already eaten. If the event is on a week day, make sure the time is conducive to your schedule, or book it far enough in advance to take a day off or make other arrangements to free up your time.
• Location: Is the session being held in a location that is convenient to you? Is there parking nearby? If the location is not close to home or work, that may be another reason to consider taking a day off. Do you like to dive in and get your hands dirty in a training class? Ask if the location has Wi-Fi so you can bring your own computer. Even better, do they have computers you can use?
• Materials: Will you get hand-outs or workbooks at the session? Should you bring business cards? Most course descriptions will tell you if you have to bring something to successfully complete the course as well as what materials the course includes.

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