Melanie Pinola at Lifehacker answers a letter from a reader who wants to use his downtime at work to pick up a new skill. She offers several ways to accomplish that, based on how the reader's company feels about outside projects.
Option 1: Develop Skills During Your Downtime
If your company is A-OK with employees working on outside projects during their work hours, you might not have to engage in any subterfuge or persuasion. In fact, many managers wrote Pinola at her Google+ account to indicate that they didn't care at all what their workers did during their downtime -- as long as their jobs got done.
Option 2: Work During Your Breaks
Obviously, you'll want to peruse the employee handbook before determining whether or not to use your in-office breaks as personal time. Some companies have policies against using your computer for non-work functions, for example. But even in that case, you can always use your commute to listen to language tapes.
Option 3: Catch the Worm
Get to work earlier, and you'll have uninterrupted time to devote to learning a skill.
Option 4: Use Technology
Instead of listening to white noise or Top 40 on your headphones, listen to audio books; instead of just reading the internet, let extensions like Language Immersion for Chrome teach you a new language by replacing select words on each page with words in the language you'd like to learn.
Option 5: Be Sneaky
If you really can't get permission to learn new skills at work, and you're getting the job done, there are ways to look busy while you engage in your side project. Just make sure you're not being monitored -- and be careful.
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