If you’re like a lot of dog geeks, you may be eyeing up a course or workshop for the perfect gift request this holiday season. Here at dogbiz, we’re all for it! One of the best things about working in the dog industry is there is always more to learn. The dog world is evolving fast, and information is more accessible than ever. There are a plethora of exciting online learning opportunities out there, from training and behavior to running a successful business. Deciding what to invest in and finding the time to do it creates an interesting challenge for dog pros.
If you’re prone to signing up for every offering out there but struggle to stay on track, these tips may help.
Upskilling in topics you love makes sense, but it’s also wise to consider the ones you tend to avoid. If the words ‘marketing strategy’ make you shudder, for example, enrolling in a course to gain skills in this area could be a smart business move. Asking peers for recommendations can be a good way to suss out providers. Many organizations have free resources and shorter workshops that you can enroll in before committing to something larger.
As well as the right topic and provider, it’s also important to consider how the learning will be delivered. Identifying what works for you and helps you succeed can guide your choices. Online learning is usually delivered in a synchronous or asynchronous format, or a combination of both. Synchronous learning tends to involve live instruction at a set time with a cohort of peers, whereas asynchronous learning usually provides you with access to materials at a time that suits you. Synchronous is ideal when you’re seeking accountability and interaction. Asynchronous allows you to fit learning in when it suits and at your own pace.
Schedule it in
Regardless of whether the learning is ‘live’ or on demand, book it in! If an online course has no finish date, create one anyway. Clients, classes and admin can easily take over and move us away from our bigger aims. Make sure to carve out time for viewing learning materials and consolidating them, whether that’s note-taking, doodling, or chatting through concepts with a colleague. Make a plan as to how you will apply concepts as well – it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of absorbing information without a lot of action. If possible, find a regular time each week and protect it. Turn your phone off, close that Facebook tab in your browser, and gift your brain some precious space for deep focus.
Optimize your space
Establish a dedicated space for learning, whether that’s a desk, kitchen table, or nearby cafe. By regularly using the same space at a consistent time, you will create an association and may find it easier and faster to switch into ‘study mode’ over time. Keep the area clear and tidy if you can and remove or turn off obvious distractions. If you’re someone who likes a degree of background noise, seek out study playlists with instrumental music only. Good lighting, a comfortable chair, and regular breaks all help to promote better learning habits.
Find an accountabili-buddy
One of the big challenges of online learning is staying on track. Often we are only accountable to ourselves, and procrastination is always lurking. If you find yourself color coding your sock drawer for the fifth time in a week, it might be time to enlist some external support. This may be in the form of a fellow dog pro or another participant in the course. It could also be a friend or family member who is working towards their own goal. Schedule regular check-ins to report on progress and challenges. Run live study sessions together – these can work both in person and online.
Positively reinforce yourself!
Treats aren’t just for our canine learners. Rewarding yourself when you make progress can be an excellent motivator. Set milestones for your learning, whether it’s completing a module, running a study session, or applying a new concept. Train your brain to anticipate good things as a result of this work with things you enjoy – your favorite chocolate, a walk in the woods, seeing a movie, a glorious nap, or some fancy new dog gear you’ve been coveting. Add fun and incentive by giving yourself permission to celebrate each step of your learning.
We offer a range of learning experiences to suit your style and preferences, from self-paced courses at dogbiz University to live community based coaching at THRIVE!. Get in touch and we can guide you through our offerings.