The Art of Learning

Learn how to learn new stuff instead of learning new stuff

image credit – @timmossholder

No matter how many skills a job description has on it these days, lets face it – its not possible to know every possible language/tool on the face of earth. You can not know it all!

We need to crawl out of the FOMO and start focusing on what we are working on. For sure, different teams use different types of tools and technologies. Some uses React while others might use Angular. Some use Python while others might use Java. But do you need to know every single technology that you might potentially work in future just because it is hot in the market? I don’t think so.

Instead, I believe that we should develop a learning framework for ourselves. That is what we should try to do first – learn the art of learning – instead of learning the next hot framework. That is why the title of the post. When you are assigned to a project which uses a different language or framework, you should be able to learn it in shortest possible time. I am going to refrain from using the word “master” because mastering something needs time and patience. I am talking about attaining the working knowledge of something you are trying to learn. Learning how to learn a new tool or technology in shortest possible time frame should be your goal.

Learning new things for the sake of learning will get you into an infinite loop because trust me the number of new tools getting launched and companies trying them is only going to go upwards from here. Gone are the days when you only had one or two market leaders. When you constantly keep learning new things without applying it, you look like this –

Instead learn new things in following scenarios –

  1. You want to make a job or career change
  2. You are assigned to a new project that needs new skill
  3. You are trying to solve a certain problem i.e you need python for ML

This is my strategy to learn something in shortest possible time – lets say that you are a back-end developer and you want to become a full stack developer. For that, you will need to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript for sure and one modern front-end framework like angular, react or vue. Learn what is mandatory and then Identify one framework that you would like to learn. Once decided, find and follow experts on twitter and ask for blogs, youtube videos and course’s recommendations. (Overtime, I have found twitter threads to be one of the best sources of curriculum to learn new technology!)

Binge watch all the you-tube videos. If possible follow along the tutorial and implement the demo apps being built by the instructor. After that buy the best course available ( may be udemy or pluralsight) in the market and complete it as soon as you can. Implement the capstone project provided in the course.

Once training is completed, start working on your own project. Build something exciting – if you are into stocks make a trading application, if you are into photography build a gallery and so on. Share it with experts and ask for their review. The key thing here is the amount of time you are spending on hand-on exercises right from youtube videos to capstone project to your pet project.

Always remember – “you learn things by working on them”. That’s what evolution has taught us and evolution is by far nature’s best project! so why choose a different approach?

Thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it interesting. Please share your learning approach in comments.

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