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Cover image for My learning methodπŸ’‘: what worked for me. βœπŸ“–

My learning methodπŸ’‘: what worked for me. βœπŸ“–

helleworld_ profile image DesirΓ© πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©β€πŸ« Updated on ・6 min read

Hello, users! πŸ‘‹

How are you doing? I wish you, friends, family and close ones are healthy and well.

We've been through challenging times, but I'm pretty convinced we all will go on and keep encouraging each other. Sending you all my good vibes.



Now... What topic will I be talking about today?

It's been some months since I started being a mentor and instructor, and I'm frequently asked from students (or how I prefer to call them, learners), same issues.

One of the questions I'm more concerned about is: DesirΓ©, how can I learn 'easier'? What's the 'quickest' way to learn something?

So I thought that writing a post about the learning method that works for me, would save me some time (so I don't have to explain this all over again) and also maybe it can help someone else.

⚠WARNING⚠, this is not the "fastest" nor "easiest" way to learn anything. The 'fast and easy' way doesn't exist. This is just a learning method that could make your learning experience better.

(Or at least... Give you some ideas).

So, here we go. πŸ‘‡

🟣 When (time) should you study

I've been in 3 jobs at the same time, +studying, +writing, +building my projects, so I know how hard it could be to manage your schedule when it seems impossible.

Here is one statement that I wish I heard before, but that I've learned a bit late: this is not a race; you'll get there when you can.

So the first thing that may be useful for you is to build up a schedule that works for you.

That "works for you" means:

πŸ“Œ Some hours seeing different tutorials/reading articles/seeing free courses while taking notes.

πŸ“Œ Some hours actually building up the architecture of what your test-pet project will be and setting up your goals.

πŸ“Œ Some hours finally coding up your project.

When I say "some hours", it can be translated to days, weeks, months, whatever that works for you.

When I started learning by myself I went with a schedule like:
Week 1: seeing this or that tutorial and taking notes; Week 2: drawing-writing the architecture of the project I want and actually start coding; Weeks 3 to 5: Keep building the project and finish it.

IMPORTANT: Set deadlines for you, as above I wrote: 'week 3 to 5, building the project and finish it'. One common mistake we as learners do, is working in our pet projects forever and sometimes we get stuck.

It is important to set at least some goals to consider your projects as "finished" at least at the beginning. Mark my words, else, you'll be working around the same project for months just because you don't like your css and will waste months learning anything.

Be realistic and don't worry if your schedule changes. For example, maybe just 1 week isn't enough for you to take notes and actually figure out the tech you're learning, so just take another week.

This is not a static/closed learning method. These are just some guidelines for you to adjust to your necessities.

🟣 Notes, notes, notes ✍

This is something I insist when mentoring someone.

Take notes, write your own guides to yourself, your own tutorials, document each problem or bug you walk into.

Even if you already learned something, don't erase those notes, you'll never know when they'll be useful again. I've been changing between techs the last 2 years and the human brain will just replace one knowledge for the other. So don't. erase. your. notes.

Take notes when seeing a tutorial, attending a conference, a course, when reading an article, test the code quickly to see if your notes are correct, whatever, but take notes.

As a side note, actually all my articles and guides are re-written from the guides and notes I take to myself.

Some really good apps to write your notes:

πŸ“Œ Your own project. Comment it, everything.

πŸ“Œ I use Notion for everything: my life, my studies, my courses, my ideas, etc.

πŸ“Œ Also, Evernote may work for you.

If you're not interested in these ones, try googling it and search the app/platform that works for you.

EDIT: Someone asked in the comments "what kind of notes I write", so here you can see a gif where I show, for example, my Vue starter notes. Hope it is helpful. πŸ™Œ

🟣 Testing your notes/code faster

There's no need to set up a project locally to start testing some projects/code.

Let me introduce you to my 2 new best friends, CodePen and CodeSandbox.

πŸ“Œ CodePen: An online tool to test your code easy and quickly. One picture is worth a thousand words, so for example here you'll find a test I did with CSS 3D Perspective. As you can see, you can store, test and share your code easy using this online tool. However, this will work for little and simple projects/testing only.

πŸ“Œ CodeSandbox: This online tool is more powerful than the last one. This one lets you test and create your whole project with many different techs (for example creating a Vue project online, React, Angular...). However I suggest if you're building a huge project, do it locally. Here you can see a little project I did using this tool.

You should check how these both tools work, for me, they were a nice solution to test my notes and code faster without setting up my project locally.

🟣 Learning by myself, or learning with a course?

Both!

Let me explain.

I usually try to test new techs using the official documentation, and when I've been able to test it by myself and build something, then I go and search for a course.

Learning by yourself is good since you can walk your own path, however, eventually, you'll need some organization and a "study plan", which a course/lesson online can provide.

Lately, I've been searching online courses (both free and paid), checking the study plan, trying to do it by myself, and finally doing the course.

Trying to follow by myself the study plan of a course makes me understand where my weaknesses are and choose a course that actually enlightens my doubts. (Since there are plenty of resources out there and it's hard to choose sometimes).

I'd always suggest to do some courses and invest in some online lessons to complement the study you're doing by yourself, even though, most of this path you'll be walking alone.

🟣 When can I say "OK, I know this tech"

I usually feel "I've learned a new tech" when:

πŸ“Œ I feel very comfortable with my skills and working with that tech.

πŸ“Œ I know how to set up a project correctly and how to deploy the project online.

πŸ“Œ I've been working in the same tech for more than 4-5 months in a row (subjective, but that's for me).

πŸ“Œ I've built different kinds of projects with the same tech.

πŸ“Œ If I can teach that tech to someone else.

The most important part is the one where you feel comfortable building a new project with that tech and now exactly what to do. Identify your weaknesses and work to improve them. You don't have to be brilliant, you're only expected to know what to do and how to do it.

You won't be able to face 'all the matters' of one tech until you actually work professionally with it, so don't try perfection, try being able to build something that works!

🟣 Conclusion

So, to sum up:

πŸ“Œ Create your (flexible) schedule. Be realistic. Don't pressure yourself.

πŸ“Œ Take. Notes. Always.

πŸ“Œ Build up some nice projects, either locally or with online tools.

πŸ“Œ Learn by yourself and rely on some tutorials/courses/online lessons to follow an organized study plan.

πŸ“Œ Identify your weaknesses and work on it.

πŸ“Œ Evaluate yourself to check if you actually know the tech or you need to work deeper into it.

As a reference and to expand this article, you may find more tools and advice in my πŸ“™How to become a Frontend Dev (even if you're not trying to be a frontend) and my πŸ“™Where and how to become a self-taught designer/developer (and many other areas).

Thank you for reading, every doubt/feedback is welcome. How do you study? πŸ˜‰

Let's keep coding πŸ’»!

Posted on by:

helleworld_ profile

DesirΓ© πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©β€πŸ«

@helleworld_

Create and connect. She/her. Worked in Smart City development for the European Union. Instructor in LinkedIn Learning.

Discussion

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To anyone who's reading this, please follow these two, they're highly important along with other points:

  1. Create your (flexible) schedule. Be realistic. Don't pressure yourself.
  2. Take. Notes. Always.

Thanks for writing this! Tenga un buen dΓ­a DesirΓ©. πŸ€—

 

Thank you for pointing that out, Β‘nos leemos! πŸ€—

 

That statement is really hit me so hard. My pace sometimes went rush after a couple of minutes, and anything I try to learn become fogy.

And here I have one problem with taking a note. If you are saying always take note when doing a course.

  1. What exactly you write? I mean, all of it is code (for my case, I learn python).
  2. And how you organized it(the note)?

Maybe that's for now, thanks in advance.

 

Hello, thanks for reading and for your response!

When taking a course I usually write down pieces of code (creating snippets), in my notes; some problems I found and the solution for them; and basically I try to write a 'guide' of the course I'm taking because in case I forget something, watching every video over again would take so much time, but searching through my organized notes won't take that long.

I usually write everything, theory, code examples, explanation of what does every piece of code, that's it!

But everyone's notes are so, so different...

 

Whoa, that is much work to do, to take note. I hope I can do that, coz to much note is overwhelming, and I like clean and simple notes. But yeah, the minus is some lack of information.

Need for improvement for my note-taking.
Would you mind to share a note in here? Screenshot maybe.

It's ok if you mind it. ☺️

Here you can see a Gif, and I'll add a little screenshot too (with my documentation in spanish!). Hope that helps 😊

What a great answer. I really appreciate this!

Btw, I'll try to use Notion as you mention, as tools to upgrade my skill at note-taking.

 

This article is legit. Nowadays newcomers have a tendency to find a short cut and learn as many technology as imaginable.
Learning is a long process; taking notes, teaching others, building something as you've mentioned above are proven methods to solidify understanding.
Thanks for sharing it; it's great.😊

 

So glad you share my perspective!

I also find so sad that someone wants to get the knowledge right now, learning is an amazing journey where you discover a big part of yourself, losing that is losing a big chance... So I had the urge to write this.

Glad you found this interesting!

 

That is so true- Learning is a journey of self-discovery.🀩
I previously tried to finish a tutorial as early as possible so to feel accomplished.
Earlier this year I realized how wrong I was!
Udemy Js instructor Andrew Mead at one of his courses started saying- "Learning isn't a race; take as much time you need. It's the consistency that matters". That line was a real puncher for me.
Anyway, I am still figuring out the note thing. I see you emphasized it real hard. Can you please refer me to anything that can help in this regard?

Didn't know Andrew but I see we share same perspectives!

I updated the article in the notes part. I suggest you take a look to Notion, I use it for... Everything in my life, actually.
I don't know many resources that could enlighten you on how to take notes or similar, so I just suggest you create your own "guides" and "tutorials" for yourself while taking notes, as complete as possible. That worked for me.

Maybe the App Routinery would help you too, it helps building some routines and habits, it helped me too.

That's a great helpπŸ˜€ Now I have a direction. Thanks for sharing the resources. I will expand on that.
Peace✌🏼

 

The emphasis on notes is a crucial one!

To further extend that idea, it's important to consider what works to allow for recall easily. I've used a multitude of things:

  1. Evernote
  2. Apple Notes
  3. Notion (paid plan)
  4. Roam Research
  5. markdown in a local directory and GitHub

One of the challenges that I've found is finding what I need when I need and making sure related ideas show up when I need them to. For those of us that write code, standard note-taking apps just don't cut it (looking at you, Apple Notes) which has no syntax highlighting or code-fencing/formatting.

I've almost all technical notes in markdown pushed to a private GitHub repository which includes useful commands and even my own glossary for terms I've heard but just learned the definitions for. This is useful, because I have an alias in my shell to take me to that directory for this repo and I can pop open any text editor and perform updates and additions. This also allows me to do a find easily via Unix utilities, like grep or awk and the one I prefer, ripgrep. Joplin makes them easy to read or some command-line formatter like Glow instead of reading the unformatted markdown.

But as you may notice, the recall component isn't there -- doing the above requires that I still remember how and where I've organized notes and certainly doesn't give me hints to related topics/ideas that I've taken down in the past. It enforces a very flat and one-directional structure, but information is bi-directional. When idea A is connected to idea B (A -> B), idea B should also be connected to A (B -> A), For example, coffee is to wakefulness as wakefulness is to coffee. If I search for "coffee", please remind me about my notes on "wakefulness". If I search for "wakefulness", please remind me about my notes on "coffee". This led me to discover Roam Research which is an amalgamation of all the tools I've used combined under one application. So when I've my coffee notes open, I can hit a keyboard shortcut that pops open related topics and ideas in a side bar (so useful) without changing my page completely over to "wakefulness". It allows me to browse two things at once. My only gripe really is that it's still in its infancy, it's expensive, and I'm trusting my data/notes to a third party provider

 

Really interesting David!

Thank you for your deep response, you're totally right. I'll update the article with some platforms to take notes where developers are comfortable. I'll also try Roam Research πŸ˜‰, thanks! πŸ™Œ

 

Just excited to share :)

I forgot to note that it has a graph representation such that you can visualize all connected ideas... for a particular topic

I recommend watching a couple of YouTube videos first. Perhaps this one: youtu.be/vxOffM_tVHI

I stopped paying for Notion and had to decide after a two week trial for Roam whether or not I wanted to keep it.

 

That's a great boost for me! It highlights all kind of trouble I faced being a (junior) developer, designer, video creator, writer and specially, a student! I also believe that when passion becomes a pressure for a coder, he can't focus anywhere, not in his work nor his family and this is the worst time of his life! It would be really nice if you cover that topic too. πŸ˜€

 

You're totally right, mental and emotional health is always a difficult but necessary issue to cover, I'll think how to cover it correctly, thank you for your suggestion πŸ™.

 

Awesome content for a new programmers!

When you say " Learning my self or Learning with a course "
Is the same for me, sometimes when I started to learning a framework, library or what else, I prefer do something by my self, and the next step I watch the videos, courses and tutorials.

This important thing is consuming about what you purpose to do!

 

Really good perspective!

Indeed, I pointed it out because some people never watch videos/courses, and I think it's important to rely on them. Let's keep working hard! πŸ’ͺ

 

For me, it's very good, watch videos to see diferent ways to solve a kind of problem. It's part of the process. This method we can learning more.

 

I think the most valuable thing you wrote was: "this is not a race; you'll get there when you can."
That's so true.
In my learning journey, sometimes I constantly feel lost in my own rush to learn faster and I end up abandon the path.
Thank you for sharing this text, it helped me.

 

I'm so glad it helped you Marta, since I found myself in the same situation many times with the feeling not only that I'm lost but that I'm not good at it.

At the end I just discovered I can learn the same as others, but just... Slowly. And that ain't a bad thing, it's just my thing. Hope you keep going on!

 

Hi, first, thanks for sharing, you're the reason i started studing front-end dev.

Second when taking notes my advice is to try to explain as if you were explaining it to someone else, that way you realize if you really understood it.
This may not be for everyone but whoever it serves

SaludosπŸ‘‹

 

Crawdon, thank you so much for your response and advice, I'm really glad you became interested in frontend development, hope my content can help you while in your path.

Indeed that's exactly how I write my notes: as if I were explaining the tech to someone that is completely clueless about it, that's a very nice perspective I totally forgot to add.

Thank you, Β‘nos leemos! πŸ‘‹πŸ˜Š

 

Great post. How do you keep up with newer versions of tech you've already taught yourself? I try following newsletters but unfortunately they begin to take up space in my inbox if I don't have the time to read through them immediately.

 

Hello, Dana! Thanks for your response.

For example I'm a Vue intermediate and Vue 3 (new version) is coming. I'll wait to read and try de official docs, when a new version of a tech you know is up, there's nothing else to do but start building new projects and taking notes about what's new!

It's a bit hard but tech won't stop for us, so we must keep going.

 

For everyone who is learning to code and wants to take notes in something more flexible, extensible and more dev oriented. Try Foam. Think Roam research meets Obsidian.

 

Good content. Just in case you're interested in programming resources:
github.com/georgegognadze/awesome-...
Good luck on your coding jurney!

 

ohhh man, I like those resources. Thank you!

 

I really like that you titled your article as "what worked for me" instead of "what you should do" - this made me actually read it :)

 

Everyone is different of course, there isn't any "magical method" out there, haha! Just wanted others to get some (possible?) inspiration.

Glad you got interested!

 

Nice article. For note taking my goto place is gitbook. It is free. Supports code highlighting.

 
 

Nice post, I will surely use this methods πŸ˜…

 
 

Thanks for this. It's always interesting to see how others learn/use their time!