I am a software engineer. Following problem: I want to keep my skills up to date but there is no time at work for this at all. "Up to date" here means for me to keep an eye on the current versions of a couple of programming languages and programming concepts in the .NET and Java area.

At work we have and will have an extremely tight schedule for at least the next couple of years with no time available. After that it might be equally tight. There is no point in asking my superiors as they won't be able to give me time "off" of the project plan; customer is breathing down our necks. This is as it is, even if I don't like it, so that's a given.

The technology used on my projects is already a few years old and there won't be a technology upgrade for the next foreseeable feature. We will simply program loads of new features into the existing application. These features don't unfortunately need new technology.

So the only options I have as I see them now are:

  • Secretely try to read and program on my own for say half an hour a day at work. Feels sneaky. Not sure about this option.
  • Do this half an hour a day at home. However I have a family and friends that I also want to spend time with. So I want to keep the time in front the screen to a minimum at home.
  • maybe another option?

Basically my question is: What would you do in my shoes?

Thanks all.

  • You can't keep up with it all, and some of it will have changed or been replaced by the time you use it. Best strategy if you don't have time is probably just to cultivate an awareness of what's becming popular. Secretly straling your employer's time is not acceptable; ask whether you can allocate, say, an hour a week for this, and if they say no you need to decide how impirtant it is to you.
    – keshlam
    Feb 10, 2016 at 18:54
  • I'll often spend a whole Sunday researching something that interests me, 1/2 an hour at a time isn't worth the effort for me I tend to want to delve deep and try things out.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 10, 2016 at 19:27
  • You might also try searching/posting about this topic on productivity.stackexchange.com
    – Brandin
    Feb 11, 2016 at 8:43

3 Answers 3


Doing things in secret at work is a quick way to get lots of free time while you explore new employment opportunities. In other words, it's a quick way to get fired.

Most software developers spend some amount of time outside of work learning new skills and playing around with new technology. It's great if your employer happens to give you time to do that on the clock but many don't. Yes, that means that you'll have to spend some of your free time learning. But that's not particularly uncommon among people in a range of professions.

  • "a quick way to get lots of free time while you explore new employment opportunities" is certainly something to keep in mind and very well put.
    – Wawa
    Feb 10, 2016 at 19:17

The technology you are using is adequate for your work into the foreseeable future. So your company has no incentive for you to have time off to improve skills they don't need.

This is a personal issue, you should use your personal time on it. If you feel strongly that it is beneficial to your work, then talk to your manager about it listing the benefits. But you would need a strong case. If the Manager agrees then they might set aside time for you. If not then you're out of luck.

Training yourself in unrelated technologies is not something you should 'sneak' to do, especially if you don't have time. Concentrate on your given tasks and if you have free time, by all means improve yourself.

  • You said "The technology you are using is adequate for your work into the foreseeable future". You are right. But I am slightly concerned that if anything happens with my company in say five years, that my tech skills will be outdated and that I will have trouble finding a new job.
    – Wawa
    Feb 10, 2016 at 19:18
  • anything you learn now will be outdated in 5 years anyway, this is the fastest moving industry in history. Lots of people brush up their skills and stay on top of innovations, but they do it on their own time.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 10, 2016 at 19:23

You're not going to be able to apply the version of .NET to your current project, and by the time you'll be able to use your version +2, you should be able to pick it up studying for a few weekends.

You really plan on spending a half hour a day on this? If and when you need it, you'll find time. Just keep an eye on things and if you see a dramatic shift int he next version, take a look at it for a few hours.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .