Tips and Tricks for Staying Up-to-Date Efficiently
Between day-to-day challenges, legislative developments, planning for programs and projects, there is a continuous need for federal employees to stay up to date on laws, directives, guidance, and best practices. How can you be sure that you have the knowledge you need? The first step is to identify potential resources, then evaluate their value, organize the information, and review their content. Let’s take a look at ways to locate resources and tips for organizing and evaluating the content they provide.
There are various places that you can find information to help you stay abreast of developments that impact your job. Here are some specific examples.
- Workplace – Discuss avenues of communication with your supervisor and other leaders within your organization. How will you be advised of policy directives and guidance? This source of information is likely the most crucial to your job performance.
- Federal Resources – Depending on the type of work you do and the reporting structure, federal agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the General Services Administration (GSA), the General Accountability Office (GAO), and the Federal Register (FR) may provide guidelines, reports, and standards that are important to your work.
- Colleagues – Don’t reinvent the wheel, ask your peers about the resources they find most useful for staying up to date. Which websites, newsfeeds, blogs, and podcasts do they find most useful? Review their recommendations and see which ones meet your needs.
- Associations – For every industry, there are local, regional, and national organizations that strive to provide their members with trends and developments that pertain to their profession. Whether it be through events, publications, training, or news, associations provide valuable and timely resources that are free or for a nominal fee to members.
- Commercial Businesses – Which research centers, consultancies, or commercial entities focus on your area of expertise? How do they share the results of their work? By subscribing to their lists, you will be among the first to be notified when they release valuable insights.
- Thought Leaders – What names come to mind when you think about who might be able to provide you with a solution for a complex challenge you are facing? Do they publish regularly or give presentations? Identify influential individuals within your profession who regularly provide their points of view and determine how best to capture their messages. Here’s a hint; you can often find them serving on the boards of associations that serve their professions.
- Automatic Notifications – The Federal Register website offers subscription services that notify you by email when changes occur on the Federal Register that meet your specifications. Google Alerts has a similar service for web content.
Avoiding Information Overload
Once you have uncovered an array of resources, you will probably be shaking your head and wondering when you will ever have the time to review all of this information. Don’t worry; we have several tips for maximizing their benefit without killing your productivity.
- Newsletters – Industry newsletters briefly summarize current events and other important information, and they typically provide links to resources where you can learn more. Finding a reliable organization that regularly reports on your industry can be essential for staying abreast of new developments.
- Digest – Organizations that provide a steady stream of information will sometimes give you the choice of receiving notifications as resources are published, or periodically in digest form. A digest provides a list of resources with brief descriptions that you can quickly scan to decide whether or not they are relevant. This feature just takes a few minutes to set up, and it helps reduce the number of individual notifications.
- Email Rules – Many email programs enable you to create rules that determine what happens to messages that come in with particular characteristics. For example, if I know that every Friday, I get a blog announcement from ABC Corp, I can set up a rule that will automatically redirect ABC emails to a designated folder. Like the digest, this feature does not take long to set up, and it helps reduce the messages in your inbox.
- Bookmarks – If an online resource does not distribute their info, you can set a bookmark for it on your web browser and set a reminder to check it periodically. Then, if you find something of interest, you can download it to a dedicated folder.
- Search – Later, you may remember seeing something in a headline, but you cannot recall exactly what it said. Having all of your resources in one place makes it much easier to do a keyword search to locate it.
- Lag Time – Do you ever find yourself waiting for an answer before you can proceed? How many times have you felt tired after a heavy lunch? Or, are you anxiously anticipating the end of a long week? These times are perfect for combing through the resources you have collected. While you may not have the time or energy to go through them all at once, you can scan through what you’ve collected and focus on the ones you feel are most important.
In addition to locating resources on your own, Management Concepts strives to provide you with the most up-to-date information available to help you enhance your productivity, efficiency, and overall performance. From our weekly blogs to our infographics, videos, and publications to our training courses and human capital consulting services, we are here to support you in pursuing your mission to serve the American public.
Natalie Komitsky is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. For more than ten years, she has been creating compelling content that tells stories, communicates ideas, and captivates readers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Nonfiction Writing, and Editing from George Mason University.