Studying new things and finding motivation to keep learning, no matter how the weather is outside, can be a challenge. Here I point a few suggestions for you on how to keep the fire of learning burning 🔥. Keep in mind that learning techniques are not magic bullets, and what works for me maybe is not the most efficient for others. But why not experimenting it, you might find some good things along the way.
We as developers are in a blessed career. Sometimes in a few hours of work, we can see substantial results on the screen. We just need a computer, a desire to learn and to make things happen. But there are always something new that you want to learn and maybe you don’t know how to start, how to take the first step.
So here it goes, my tips for an effective, fast, and most important, enjoyable process of learning.
Merge theory with practice
Don’t expect to master something theoretically to start doing things in practice. It’s important to learn the basics but if you are waiting for mastery in theory before trying to do something you will never start, because the practice is equally, or more important than theory.
Learn the basics in parallel with practicing it, and most important, make mistakes. The more mistakes you make the more you learn. Don’t be afraid to try, to dare. Errors will come along and this is a natural process of learning.
Have an idea for a project
The process of learning is much more enjoyable when you are actually doing something that you find interesting while learning. So take that awesome project out of the shelf and start executing it now.
The idea for this project doesn’t need to be SUPER AWESOME. Remember that you main goal here is to learn in the first place, and not change the world with a revolutionary tool, just not now. Do you like games, so make one, a simple one, it doesn’t need to be the next The Sims. Or why don’t you try to do a simple calculator or even a to-do list :)? I know, I know, there are more to-do lists in the world than stars in the universe, but the point here is to learn, and besides that, the most gratifying thing is that it will be your to-do list, your creation, you made it.
What you can’t do is to make a ‘Hello world’ and think that you are proficient at something. This is the worst case of an illusion of competence.
Get out of your comfort zone of knowledge
Plan on which tools you can use for this specific project. Don’t be afraid to try new things that you always wanted to learn but didn’t have the time to. This includes trying new programming languages, frameworks, libraries. If you think a tool or a framework interesting, experiment it.
Don’t try to be a Jedi tomorrow
Why you put so much pressure on your shoulder young padawan, this will only make you more stressed and less able to absorb new material. Enjoy the process of discovering new things without the preoccupation of mastering anything. Your brain needs time to assimilate new things.
Sleep well, learn well
The new things you learn by day gets consolidated by night when you are sleeping. If you don’t rest the appropriate time every night your learning process will not be very effective, do you agree? Sometimes is hard to sleep at the right time with so many screens blinking at you, and notifications everywhere. Take the effort to disconnect from the world at least an hour before the time you have set to sleep.
Put it open source
Don’t be afraid to show the world your new project or experiment. Don’t wait it to be “perfect” because nothing never will. And besides that, you might be lucky to find that your tool is useful for other people, and they might want to collaborate to make it even more awesome.
Learn about best practices and refactor old projects
Learn about best practices and the most efficient ways to program. Then revisit the projects that you created once in a while and look at your code. Try to make your code better, and you will learn a lot in the process. If you have a friend that knows about that language, framework or library that you’re are using, ask him to join the project so you can learn more and faster.
I hope you enjoy those tips. Learning something new can be daunting, but it shouldn’t be.