If you want your eLearning efforts to really pay off with big impacts, employees need to be able to engage it when they’re at their most focused and productive. Obviously, that can’t always happen because we also want employees to devote their most productive times to the important work that needs to be done in organizations.
Here’s something really important to realize: Multitasking is a myth. Many of you know Daniel Goleman for the role he has played as an author in popularizing the idea of emotional intelligence. One of his more recent books is called Focus. As it turns out, the human brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. Some people do get really good at switching between tasks, but even that is really hard to do. Everyone talks about multitasking as if it’s something they’re really doing – but it’s largely an illusion we need to firmly dispel if we’re serious about employees being fully engaged in eLearning. In other words, eLearning cannot happen effectively if employees are trying to do it “on the fly” with everything else on their plates. Make it clear that eLearning cannot happen in a multitasking environment. It just won’t work.
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When it comes to scheduling eLearning, you should think in terms of helping people figure out when during the day their personal energy levels are at their peak. And that may or may not be first thing in the morning. This can differ widely from person to person. Encourage people to take a moment or two to reflect on when they typically feel up and down during the day. It’s worth having people focus on this for a few days so they can figure out when they’re sharpest, and see if some of their eLearning can happen during those peak periods. Each person will probably have various peaks and valleys during a typical day, and getting aligned with those cycles can greatly benefit eLearning efforts.
In part, this is why it’s important to chunk eLearning into highly digestible short sessions, typically no longer than 20-25 minutes. That’s increasingly becoming a standard practice among eLearning instructional designers.
Studies have also been conducted that show 39% of people find Tuesday to be their most productive day of the week. Why not encourage people to engage in some eLearning on that particular day? An additional 24% find Monday to be another very productive day of the week.
Part of the allure of eLearning is that it can conceivably happen whenever people are available to engage in it, especially if it’s a self-paced course or module. What the above information serves to highlight, however, is that sometimes people may need a little help in choosing the best time to engage in eLearning.
To help people find their most productive times of day, have them reflect on the following questions:
- What are the times of day when I have the most energy and concentration? Research has shown that the vast majority of people lack focus and energy after a big meal, and that vigorous exercise is most often followed with a time of increased energy and focus.
- When during the day do I have the least amount of distractions and interruptions? There are both planned and unplanned distractions, and they can really derail both energy and focus. Finding those times with the least interruptions is key for effective eLearning.
For eLearning to have the kind of impact you need it to have in your organization, you must do what you can to help people find the right times for it to happen for them. When you take the time to do this, you’ll be better leveraging all of your eLearning efforts.