20% Time

This is exactly what I do. I spend an “abnormal” amount of time reading feeds and generally keeping up with stuff, first because I like it but also because that’s 80% of my branding, marketing and client prospection (or lack thereof, I try to arrange it so they find me), making sure people can think “oh yeah, I’m sure Patrick knows”;

Derived from the well-known Google practice of giving developers 20% of their time to work on projects of their own choosing, this strategy involves deliberately using some of your own potentially billable hours to learn new skills instead. This sacrifices some income today for the security of staying on the cutting edge tomorrow. You can use the 20% time (which might be 10% or 30%, depending on how much learning you feel you need to do versus how much income you can afford to pass us) to attend conferences or courses, read, write code…anything that contributes to keeping your skills sharp. To make this work, you have to be honest with yourself and set aside a regular chunk of time (a day a week or a couple of hours a day) instead of pretending that five minutes here and there while you’re on hold add up to something significant.—Refactoring Your Career