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Blueprint for Integrating Work and Learning

Posted by Sarah Davis on April 26, 2016
Balancing work and learning

We're all apprentices. We're forever learning from those who have more experience than we do. But it can be hard figuring out how to focus on work and how to propel your career. Here's 5 proven ways to successfully integrate work and learning.

1. Work In Sprints

"The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage." - Dr. Arie de Geus

When you're working and learning, it's important to have a focused and well-regulated approach. The Scrum methodology helps you organize your tasks and projects by sprints - typically 1-3 weeks. You use real world results to inspect and adapt your progress. Working in this time-bound fashion enables you to accomplish more and adapt frequently. Take time to review each work sprint, learn what worked and what didn't, and adjust your plan for the next sprint.  It's much easier to tackle 3 weeks at a time than 6 months or a year. Short sprints for the win!

2. Set SMART Learning Goals

Learning can be overwhelming and discouraging without clear objectives. Set SMART learning goals that align with your work sprint and objectives. Each goal should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. For example, you may set a goal becoming (actionable) Inbound certified (specific and measurable) by the May 1st (time-bound and realistic). If you get stuck defining your objectives, use this helpful SMART Goal Questionnaire to get started.

Look at our list of the best MOOCs to find courses that will help you set SMART learning goals.

3. Share Your Goals SelectivelyBalancing work and learning

Whether you have goals at work or in your personal educational development, sharing those goals with others will help keep you accountable. Talk to trusted friends or mentors about your goals. Ask for their feedback to ensure your goals are realistic and attainable. Tell them your timelines and ask them to check in with you at regular intervals to see whether you're on track.

4. Assess Your Progress

Before you relax at the end of your sprint, take some time to assess your progress. Did you achieve the goals you set for yourself? If not, why? Was that goal realistic? What can you do differently in the next sprint? This retrospective assessment is critical for continued growth and learning. 

5. Improve and Repeat

At the end of each sprint, decide what action you need to take to improve. Maybe you need to schedule your tasks/projects on the calendar to ensure you have time to complete them. Or perhaps you need to adjust the size or quanitity of your goals for each sprint so they're more realistic.

The important step here is to take action. It's useless to review your progress and not act on what you've learned. Even after several sprints, there's always room for fine tuning and learning more about how you learn.

"Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future." says Brian Tracy, top selling author of over 70 books. 

How can you become a mover and a shaker? By integrating work and learning. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Begin implementing these 5 proven steps to learn while you work and you'll win at both!

Discover how work and learning are integrated in the apprenticeship model at DCI.

DCI Apprenticeship Program

Topics: For Recent Grads