Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tips to overcome problems with learning

[This was originally posted at http://timstall.dotnetdevelopersjournal.com/tips_to_overcome_problems_with_learning.htm]

Although it's common knowledge that you need to invest time and effort to learn, the question is how to maximize that investment. Certainly you will encounter problems at every step of the way, such as:
  • Staying motivated.
  • Not feeling overwhelmed.
  • Finding time to learn despite being busy.
  • Learning the right stuff.
  • Retaining what you do learn.
  • Getting to use your new hard-earned knowledge.

Here are some random tips to dealing with those problems. Obviously a lot more could be said about each one; this is just a partial brain dump - and isn't that what blogs are for?

ProblemIdeas for Solutions
Staying motivated
  • Work on what you personally care about
  • Reflect on your accomplishments
Not feeling overwhelmed
  • Make reasonable goals
  • Focus on smaller chunks
Retaining what you do learn
  • Summarize your new knowledge
  • Put it in easy-to-find places
  • Practice it hands-on
Learning the right stuff
  • Continually try at everything, and eventually you’ll hit the jackpot (This will also increase your learning ability such that you’ll be ready when you get the chance).
  • Invest time outside of your required learning to explore the topics you want.
Using your new hard-earned knowledge
  • Pick topics that assist with your personal goals, so regardless of what happens at work you'll still get to use it.
  • Hang out in communities that value the same knowledge.
Finding time to learn despite being so busy.
  • Use the dead parts of the day (like driving or waiting in line) to mull over ideas.
  • Use smaller chunks of time instead of waiting for an entire free day.
  • Even in seasons when you’re just trying to survive (and hence are not doing any new studying), you can still learn better character like patience and determination.


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