How to learn effectively
Why learning process is so difficult? Because it’s a work of art on its own. We learn to manage our learning process the whole life. What’s more important, it’s quite unique for every single person. That’s why there’s no a silver bullet or an approach that works for everyone.
I have experience being self-taught. And it was a huge struggle in the beginning, so it is now. I still evaluate my approach to scouting for resources, helping myself to digest new information, get help from others, etc.
My approaches are rather general. They’re not specific to programming, and I even got some of them from learning math and science.
Here I want to share what I learned about teaching myself. It’s based mostly on my own experience, what works for me, how I approach things. I hope it will give you some great ideas that can save you time in the long. Enough shit talk, let’s jump right in!
- Be patient
- Don’t believe arrogant people who tell you what you learn is easy.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with the number of things you need to learn. Taking small steps, understand the bigger picture.
- Cover extra resources to make the most of the educational process.
- Don’t ask without putting effort when you get stuck.
- Learn to solve problems on your own. Don’t rely on others.
- Learn to read.
- Evaluate your knowledge against the complexity of the topic.
- Take a break if you feel overwhelmed.
- Build projects.
1. Be patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day. When you decide to learn something, you’ll need a lot of patience and determination. Take your time, dig deeper, avoid skipping course content, extra resources, etc for the sake of speed.
Always remind yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Don’t believe arrogant people who tell you what you learn is easy. Noting is easy. Learning new things IS NOT EASY.
No matter if you learn in a Bootcamp, University, or with a completely custom curriculum you picked by yourself, chances are you will encounter those who talk about these concepts as of something obvious forcing yourself to think you’re stupid because you don’t understand. It can take many forms from telling you directly that things are obvious to showcasing you how they do the same without any effort. Simply ignore this clutter. Chances are they have some problems on their side and simply trying to put their stress on you.
3. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the number of things you need to learn. Taking small steps, understand the bigger picture.
Looking at roadmaps or curriculums, you might think it will take decades to grasp everything. It can be shocking how much you should know to get the job done. Yet you don’t really need to know every single technology in the market.
Use roadmaps to get the bigger picture instead of trying to master every single thing. Once you in the industry, you can feel what’s necessary and what’s optional. So instead of discouraging yourself, try to get your feet wet as soon as possible.
4. Cover extra resources to make the most of the educational process.
Usually, courses and curriculums don’t cover all the topics in depth. Yet they shouldn’t. They exist to show the direction, not to give you everything you need. Without curriculums, you can easily get lost in all the masses of content on the web. I always remind myself that a course is not a silver bullet. It’s something that supports you on your journey showing you the way to great achievements.
Always try to find other points of view on the topics you cover and understand the same thing from different perspectives. The course costs nothing without the extra work you do. Being curious and stubborn really helps here.
5. Don’t ask without putting effort when you get stuck.
Well, it’s quite obvious that you should put effort into the learning process. However long time ago, every time I felt stuck I started asking everyone around what to do with it. Actually, when you find yourself doing so, it’s time to stop and think about what you’re currently trying to understand, as your mind usually cannot grasp anything when you panic without a direct focus on your current problem. Moreover, when you’re feeling something like that, usually you cannot focus on the explanations people happily providing.
6. Learn to solve problems on your own. Don’t rely on others.
I usually think of it as of flip side of tutorial purgatory. When you learn in a controlled and sterile environment, you feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed. Especially when you can get help from others (either from your mentor or your teacher). Yet the end goal of any educational process is to get a skill and be able to apply it in new unexpected situations. And to be able to do so, you should not only follow the guidelines you get with some tweaks, but also force yourself to think, google, and at the end of the day, struggle on your own. Think of a mentor, tutor, or whoever helps you as a guide, a helper’s hand, not as the person who brings the solutions to the table.
7. Learn to read.
Being able to read carefully and comprehend is crucial. When you either got stuck or trying to figure things out, try not only to skim and get the idea but understand each and every word you have. Sometimes you may miss small details which don’t allow you to finally get it. So don’t miss them.
8. Evaluate your knowledge against the complexity of the topic.
I think it’s the most complex part of the educational process, especially when nobody’s guiding you. You don’t want to hit the closed door just to realize in the future that the topic was bigger than you can chew. It’s an extremely discouraging and demotivating process. What helps me here is to perform some extra analysis on how complex the topic is and what I already know. Sometimes guides and roadmaps can help, hovewer usually you have your own case and your own set of skills, knowledge, and experience, so you need to spend some extra time on aligning your curriculum and set of steps you should pass to grasp the concept.
9. Take a break if you feel overwhelmed.
The best thing you can do is to have a clear mind when you learn or solve problems. Usually, it’s extremely unproductive to keep pushing when you overwhelmed. Your brain is bloated with information and cannot focus under such conditions. Leave the question for the future, calm down. It’s okay to not be able to understand something right off the bat. Save yourself nerve cells and time, and get back to the problem when you feel less intimidated about it.
10. And, the most obvious advice - build your projects.
You learn the most when you do something on your own. Extra points if it is something you do want to build as you’ll have more motivation to finish it.
To wrap it up, I can say it’s all related to how you understand yourself. You should listen to your inner voice. Being able to communicate with yourself is a skill that will save you tons of time in the long run.