Table of Contents
No.1: Read a lot
No.2: Get your hands dirty
Reading alone is not enough. We all know that. In addition, it is not the best way to remember new knowledge. You don’t believe me? Think about everything you read yesterday. How much do you remember? How many numbers and facts can you recall? Chances are that you remember the headings of the articles you read. You can probably also tell what those articles were about. However, if someone gave you test to test specific facts and numbers, you would probably fail.
The benefits of learning by practice
This feedback loop and improved retention is why even a book that is up-to-date will never be the best option. In addition, reading can actually hold you back. When you read about something it is easy to convince yourself that you are making progress. Why would you? You are getting through the pages and moving further in the book. Well, this is what you think and believe. What if someone gave you a test? Could you pass it as easily as you turn the pages?
What if you are in not sure how much time you should dedicate to reading and practice? My answer is simple. Always spend more time in practice. And, if you have to choose between reading about something and practicing it, choose the later. Remember that reading about things can convince you about making progress. Don’t buy this illusion.
No.3: Try different learning mediums
Multiple learning mediums for deeper immersion
Some people ignore talks and podcasts because they don’t see them as useful. I disagree. These resources often feature people with great insights and know-how learned from years of practice. In addition, these resources are also usually more casual and entertaining than courses and books. So, you can use these resources to relax and while still learning a lot.
Add some interactivity
Another often used method for acquiring new skills is learning by watching others. Learning by watching colleagues is usually how new employees get their first experience. Have you ever worked for somebody else? Yes, summer job counts too. Then, chances are that your employer took you through the work process. If it was not your employer, than it was another employee. She either showed you how to do it or let you watch her.
The benefits of watching others
If you remember, I once mentioned that I worked on a stock exchange. This was approximately seven years ago. Anyway, my first day at work was all about sitting next to my colleague and watching him at work. Then, when it looked like understood the process, I got the opportunity to try what I’ve learned in real. This was the last time before I jumped into entrepreneurship. Still, I see, or do, the same happening again and again when I work with startups or build some.
If you are lucky, you can find the answer on the web. If not, you have to find someone who knows the answer, in your free time. However, this may not help because that person doesn’t know the circumstance. Therefore, the answer may work only in some cases. In addition, you will not see her thought process leading to this answer. As a result, your understanding will be shallow at best.
The advantages of the information age
The first problem with learning by watching
The second problem with learning by watching
The first streaming website I mentioned, LiveCoding.tv, allows users to chat with each other. So, if you have a question you can ask the other person. Another solution is to use multiple resources. When you find something you don’t understand, ask people on forums like StackOverflow. It is not the same as having someone next to you. However, it will do the job. Just make sure to fill all gaps. Build foundation for the knowledge you will learn in the future. Any gap is potential risk.
No.5: Practice often and deliberately
Learning is about leaving your comfort zone. Think about your childhood. How did you learn to ride a bike? You started with training wheels and practiced with them for a while. Then, when you were able to maintain the balance, you removed those wheels. This was important. It pushed you out of your comfort zone. This was stimuli for your brain to adapt to new situation by learning. Otherwise, you would never learn how to ride a bike on your own.
Only practicing what you know will get you nowhere. Don’t try to fool yourself that this will help you retain knowledge because you repeat it. Regular rehearsal is important. However, doing only that is a waste of your time. Sure, dedicate some of your time for rehearsal. Then, focus on progress. Great book on this subject is Peak by Anders Ericsson.
No.6: Study the code
A better time for this tip is when you pass the beginner level and move to intermediate. This is when you should understand the source code written by others. You should understand at least some parts of it. Although it could still be a challenge, it should be like reading a foreign language. You know the vocabulary. Now, you just need to practice it and really get into it.
The benefits of studying the code
The result is different not only due to different coding styles. It is also different because everyone uses different thought process. Different points of view are another factor. You can learn from all of that. I’m not suggesting that you have to adopt coding style or practices of other people. Explore a variety of styles and choose your own. And, if you like something, use it. If not, don’t. The same for practices. Nobody will punish you for that, except if you are in the team with guidelines.
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