I just felt like sharing my own two cents on how i approached learning for the last few years on my journey as a junior web developer.
The constant changes in the world of programming make this job very dynamic. As soon as you are close to getting used to the technology you love, theres some update coming your way, some new library, a new trend everyone is losing their mind about - and you'll have to keep up with that, or be left behind. This teaches you to be bold and get out of your comfort zone. You've done it many times already - you know you can do it again, and its getting easier every time! This is power. Its a force within you that can get you places.
Tutorials are great, they walk you through a new tech quickly and show you what to use in a focused fashion, getting rid of the details from the docs. However, there's more and more talk on people getting stuck in watching tutorials and never actually putting them to use. I encourage reading and/or watching those, but without your own critical thinking you won't get too much out of them. Tutorials usually build a small crud app that give you some insight.
After you're done with that, you should do at least a couple projects using the technology you just learned. Don't pile it up with too much new stuff. If you want to learn a front-end framework, forget the back-end Do that part separately when you're confident with the other. You'll then realize what exactly you didn't understand from the tutorials and you'll read up on that matter, you'll google for solutions and you'll be more confident whenever you make a step further. The key is not to stretch into all directions at the same time.
Every journey comes with a learning curve, but you got all the material you need right in front of you - docs, articles, youtube videos, online courses or whatever else you fancy. As you grind, you should take care of your pace. Take things slow. Let the new stuff sink in, really understand how something works rather than just taking it as is. You'll be able to acquire related skills quicker when necessary, and it will save you from drowning in a sea of errors.
Errors will happen regardless, and when it seems like you're getting nowhere, take some rest. Give your brain some time to process everything previously learned. Do something else for the rest of the day. Sleep it off if necessary. You'd be surprised how many times i came back fresh and solved the issue right away. Remember the scene from Men in Black below? Its a real thing.
Every now and then, someone is posting about their own experience on how they took too much upon themselves, regretting the choice they made for the next few months.
Too much of anything is bad. You can have a job and never do projects at home and still be passionate about what you're doing. The people who experience burnout mostly do jobs on the side in their free time. Its fine if its a short gig, but if you take something that will go on for more than a month, you're probably having a bigger bite than you should.
If you're learning new technologies on your own just take it easy. Don't sacrifice everything else just so you can "quickly improve". Sometimes you need to take a step back to move forward again. Your brain needs a break from time to time regardless of how quick you want to learn something. Don't be the guy sitting in their apartment all day becoming pale and exhausted, dehumanized, desocialized and even agitated from all the coding and frustration it brings with it. This brings us to the next section.
Here are a few tips to improve your health, stay human, fight depression or anxiety, and be more productive because you'll feel better when you get back to work:
Nature is cleansing your clogged mind
I go cycling with a friend of mine every second day. I do mountain biking every week or two. The fresh air, the sun, the colors of nature and its sounds, its all soothing. Forget meditation. Why imagine things instead of experiencing them. Doing cardio is great for your body and mind and everyone who does it will tell you the same. Its not just that. Having someone around, talking easy topics, eating or drinking together after the journey - priceless.
If you have some other way to get out of the city and feel the nature i highly encourage you to embrace that. It really clears your mind and its a natural medicine against anxiety and depression. Besides that, i even solved code errors multiple times right after i came back home from cycling.
Make it an obligation, go out every day or second day with someone, your neighbor, your colleague, your friend, any group, call your relatives and invite them for a drink, go eat with someone, go out with friends of friends, make engaging conversations, stay friendly and laugh together. Introvert or not, you are a social animal and you can't go through life alone. Don't compensate the lack of friends with games or social media. In person experiences beat virtual any time.
If you eat crap, you will feel like crap. Eat nutrient-dense food. There are nutrients that improve your cognitive health and condition. Here is a list from this study (click to see the foods that contain these): Omega-3 fatty acids,Curcumin, Flavonoids, Saturated fat, B vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Choline, Combination of vitamins (C, E, carotene), Calcium, zinc, selenium, Copper, Iron.
I'd love to read what worked for you on your journey. Let me know in the comments.
- Gómez-Pinilla F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-78.