This past week, I attended 6th grade orientation with my son so that we could both learn about what life is going to be like as he shifts gears into junior high. I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s safe to say that much has changed since my days in junior high, and probably yours, too.

As the students joined their teacher for a tour of the school, the parents were steered to the gymnasium where the principal stepped us through the school’s expectations for student behavior, taught us the color-coded subject system (blue folders and blue notebooks are for math, the yellow is for science, etc.), and shared an overview of the students’ daily agenda.

One item in particular caught my eye: SST.

SST in its long form is Silent Study Time, a 15-minute block of time when students read. Silently.

Personally, I like seeing this as part of the learning experience for the students. As someone who enjoys reading, and who also enjoys his alone time, I’m particularly fond of co-mingling the two. But, let’s forget about the life of junior high students, and instead focus on you – the very busy business person.

If your day is like most people, it starts off by getting out of email jail, followed by reviewing yesterday’s production reports, takes a brief time-out for a working lunch so you can return voicemails, and ends with meetings and employee coaching sessions. And, in the middle of all of that you probably put out a dozen fires. It’s likely that you don’t have 15 minutes of SST on your Outlook Calendar.

But, you should. And here are three reasons why:

Enhances Capabilities – Through SST you can learn how to perform your job duties better. For example, I just finished reading an article on creating engaging e-learning modules and I picked up nearly a dozen tips that I can implement when building my next course.

Grows Expertise
– The more you know, the more valuable you become. In business, you get paid based on the value you add to your company. Similar to enhancing your capabilities, SST can also enhance your expertise. Learn about the industry. The trends. The threats. The opportunities. Then, strategically use that information to become an expert in your department, your company, and your industry.

Accelerates Learning – Email. Voicemail. Instant messages. Text messages. Tweets. Facebook updates. The distractions are endless. Blocking out 15-minutes of silent alone time will help keep those distractions at bay so you can focus on comprehending and retaining what you are reading. Busy professionals generally learn on the fly and often attempt to digest material while multi-tasking. The partial attention results in a fragmented learning experience. It is possible that you can learn twice as much in 15 minutes of SST than you could in 60 minutes of fragmented learning time. (No, I don’t have a case study to back that up; it’s just a gut feeling that I’m sure you can relate to.)

The Challenge

This week your challenge is to schedule a daily 15-minute chunk of time to grow your knowledge, skills, and abilities. This is your professional SST. The two requirements are that you do it alone and refrain from multitasking.

15 minutes. That’s it. Don’t worry, your Blackberry will still be there when you’re done.

The Reflection

  • Was it difficult to refrain from checking email, voicemail, or texts during this time?
  • What did you learn about yourself during this week’s challenge?

You can share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Gary Jensen
Editor | collector mentor

To download companion worksheets to use with The collector mentor Challenge™, please visit

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Published bimonthly, collector mentor is a quick-read publication dedicated entirely to delivering articles and practical advice that teaches credit and collection professionals how to increase collection results, enhance productivity, improve teamwork, and become better stewards of the industry.

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