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Learning at Work Week: 7 Developer Tips To Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed And Learn Efficiently

18 May 2017 | Lou Bichard | About a 3 minute read
Tags: developer, devs, Learning, Learning at Work Week, process, Product, skills, structure


Learning is probably the most fundamental skill you can possess as a Developer. You are constantly expected to keep up with trends. Mastering the art of learning to learn will transcend your entire career and will serve you well if you are structured and efficient at learning.

There are 2 main obstacles to developer learning…

Time – The idea that you have to do loads of learning in your free time as a Developer is a myth – you just have to be more intentional about how you spend your learning time. Taking time off and breaks is just as important otherwise you’ll end up fried … not good!

Structure – Traditional schooling puts structured curriculum in front of students and we’re all accustomed to following set or rigid learning structures … this usually isn’t available when in the world of work, you instead have to be disciplined with your own direction.

To battle the fact you have finite time and a lack of structure is simple – focus on reducing the time spent learning by being more effective and structured.

7 developer tips to avoid becoming overwhelmed and learn efficiently:

  • Set your outcome before starting – Begin with the end in mind. If you don’t you risk going wildly off track – set a learning goal and stick to it. Five minutes spent before you begin could save you a lot of wasted time.
  • Seek nuance over novelty – Most developers make the mistake of constantly being off learning the next new thing – before you fall into this fatigue trap just make sure that your learning goal matches your speciality and your career goals to prevent a scattergun learning approach.
  • You don’t have to learn everything – Be at peace with the fact that you don’t need to know everything. Be disciplined with your prioritisation around what are the next few things you want to learn.
  • Practice > Theory – Most technical topics are better mastered through practice than in theory. Most books will give unnecessarily long explanations. Try to learn just enough to begin before diving straight into the work.
  • Vary your mediums – I find it useful to break up my mediums of learning into different areas: books, blogs, videos etc – just to keep it fresh.
  • Double the speed – Often videos are intentionally set at a slow pace – usually the pace of the slowest of learners. If you’re paying attention (read: coffee in hand!) – crank up the playback to 1.5x or even 2.0x speed for a productivity boost.
  • Use Pomodoro’s – I use Pomodoro’s when scheduling my more “creative” or self-directed time. Break each task into 25 minute slots – scheduling 5 minute breaks. This ensures you are realistic about the time you have to spend (it always goes by faster than you think).

 

That’s it. The 7 ways that you can be more intentional and structured with your learning. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint, so by making learning a habit that you engage in little but often is a great investment for the smarter (yet chilled) future developer that you will become!

Question: What tactics do you use to keep your learning time productive?

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