Five Tips to Meeting Your Training Deadline
The following five tips may be helpful as a guideline for corporate training managers trying to ensure that all employees meet their training deadlines, and also for individual learners aiming to complete their assigned course(s) ahead of the deadline.
1. Calculate Training Time
Take the estimated time required to complete the training, then add a 25% buffer.
For each course in the set to be completed, note the credit hours or course duration stated for the course. Add these together to get the total time for the set. This is most likely the least amount of time it will take to finish the training. Multiply that number by 1.25 to add an extra 25% —extra time for taking a bit longer on activities or quizzes, or for dealing with short breaks and interruptions during the time set aside for learning.
For a training plan with four courses that are estimated to be two hours each:
(4 courses) * (2 hours) = 8 hours expected
(8 hours) * (1.25 for buffer) = 10 hours planned
2. Plan Amount of Time Per Day Committed to Learning Activities
Estimate daily (or weekly) time commitments.
- If the plan is for the online course to be completed during the workweek, how many hours per day can the learner(s) reasonably be expected to spend on the training?
- If the learner procrastinated and had to cram, what is the absolute maximum amount of time the learner could be expected to spend on a single day?
Let’s assume learners for this training plan can generally devote 1 hour per weekday to learning and will generally not be working on the weekends. Let’s also assume that super-procrastinators will be able to put in up to 8 hours of training in a single day, but no more than that.
3. MAP CALENDAR TIME
Use a calendar to plan 1 day off for every 4 days on. Identify key dates and set alerts.
Map out the time commitment on a calendar, starting the day BEFORE the day the training is due and working backwards to set alerts for the recommended start, latest start, and expected mid-point.
In our example, the training is due on Friday the 19th, so we will work backwards starting with Thursday the 18th, laying out our expected ten hours of training in one-hour increments.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday 1 2
ALERT: Start the training!
6 7 8
ALERT: Half way done? If not get going!
13 14 15
ALERT: Training due Friday!
RECOMMENDED START: We find that our recommended start date is Wednesday the 3rd, so we will set an alert (or send an email, or mark the calendar) for Tuesday the 2nd to help make sure learners get started on time.
LATEST START: Using our estimate of 10 hours total for the training and the procrastination number of no more than 8 hours per day, we see that students may need parts of both Wednesday the 17th and Thursday 18th to complete the training, so we will send out a final reminder on Tuesday the 16th.
MIDPOINT: We will also set an alert for mid-way between our recommended start and latest start as a reminder to learners that they should be half-way through. If our training was expected to take a longer period of time, we might add additional checkpoints.
4. Encourage Learners to Follow Best Practices
Now that we know how much time needs to be set aside to complete the training, we need to help learners and their managers understand the importance of planning time for learning.
Set aside specific dedicated time for training.
Learners and managers need to prioritize daily tasks in a manner that allows the learners to regularly engage with the learning without major interruption. It is hard to follow the flow of the training when the phone is ringing, customers need help, or email and social media are calling. When it is time to train, to the extent possible, learners should shut down all distracting software applications and make sure someone else is available to handle urgent issues that require immediate response. A “quiet” environment for a designated period of time primes learners to focus, learn, and complete the training on time.
Make sure the learning sessions are reasonably close together.
It is important not to have long periods of time between one training session and the next. With large gaps, it can be easy to lose momentum and for earlier lessons in the course to start to become forgotten. Learners should try to finish courses that are an hour or less in a single chunk. For longer courses, try not to have more than a week between learning sessions. Over weeks or months, the shorter the time gaps between learning sessions, the more course content remains “top of mind,” helping set the learner up for success.
Watch pacing deadlines and keep up.
Without firm milestones and deadlines in place, it can be tempting to procrastinate. It is important to set realistic goals on a daily and/or weekly basis, and adjust those goals if milestones are missed. As noted above, unexpected office work and/or other crucial tasks should be taken into consideration. Allocate sufficient breathing space to allow the learner time to absorb the training materials covered and deal with unexpected circumstances.
5. Celebrate Success
Help learners celebrate movement towards their learning goals—and meeting organizational training deadlines. When learners understand that learning is not just a checkbox item, but a strategic activity benefitting both themselves and the organization, making time for training and prioritizing training goals become much easier.
It can be challenging—and critical—to make time for training in today’s workplace. Help learners plan for success and reap the benefits of professional development. We wish you the best of luck and happy learning!
Wesley, Laura, and the 360training Authoring Team