There is something of a WOWNDADI blog tradition that I write an end of month wrap up post. This month’s is a little extended and a little late, since September was no ordinary month.

It was not so much because of Web 2.0 Expo and the Digital Mission, although I learnt lots from them, but because of events in the financial world. It gives pause to think.

Having been in both London and New York during the last few weeks, I watched the layoffs in both places at first hand. I’m not going to attempt to give advice on what to do if you have been laid off, plenty of others are better placed to do that. However, it is worth thinking about what you can do before hand.

This week, during Wiki Wednesday at the BCS, I heard the phrase: “out of hours time”. The BCS awards points to members who invest their personal time into learning and development. The points can be used towards qualifications. What do you do with your “out of hours” time?

Clay Shirky (author of here comes everybody) talks about “cognitive surplus”. Society, or more specifically we as individuals, waste a huge amount of time on television. I’d argue more widely that we waste a huge amount of time full stop. Why?

We don’t have a clear purpose, and even if we do, we don’t point our time effectively at it.

If you don’t resemble that statement, then let me tell you that you are someone who is going to change the world, you are almost unstoppable. Whatever the nice folks at CERN discover, as far as our everyday life is concerned, we can’t create or destroy time, we can simply waste it or use it.

Time is much like the very best sale items, once it is gone, it is gone. In this part of the world we to lead very ‘busy’ lives. I use the quote marks advisedly. We are very active-busy, but not very purpose-busy. The idea of packing more things in, like investing some time into learning and development, causes us to throw up our hands in dispair.

I haven’t got enough time!

Now we both know that statement is bonkers. Seriously, it is like a fish in the sea saying it has no water. We have loads of time. We’ve just filled it with things. Creating time can’t be done (although I’m still holding out hope CERN folks!), all we can do is the next best thing: Change how we use it; Swap out some things.

At Web 2.0 Expo both Clay Shirky and Gary Vaynerchuk, in their own way, urged people to ditch the TV and do something else with that time (Gary used a bit more adult anglo saxon in his talk than Clay did in his).

To create the time to learn and develop means giving up other things. But, going back to New York, in today’s changing changeable world, we need to invest in our own learning and development more than ever. We don’t know when we’ll be looking for a new job, or even a new line of work.

Having a broad range of skills, and being in the practice of acquiring new ones, is the best we can do towards keeping ourselves valuable in the market place. All that said, we still need to give ourselves time to relax and enjoy life. Another piece of advice I am trying to take onboard myself.