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How I Discovered ‘Pre-Tutorial Hell’ and How You Can Avoid It

Cahue Kokeny
Information Systems student in Brazil. Eager to become a full-time developer one day!
・3 min read

So recently I've decided to study Web Development...

And like any other motivated self-starter, I dove head-first online and started researching like crazy. Websites, articles, videos, blogs, online courses — pretty much anything that I found remotely useful I started bookmarking it. Or, if we’re being honest, hoarding it.

Thirty days later, I had taken 50-pages worth of notes and created more than 10 different folders on my browser for all that knowledge.

You might’ve heard the term, ‘Tutorial Hell’, right? That dreaded phase we all find ourselves whenever we want to start something new. When we’re too insecure to take the first step, and we keep reading tutorial after tutorial, as if one day we’ll magically be completely ready. Spoiler alert: we are never completely ready for anything.

But see, I found myself in an even worse phase. I was, in what I like to call, ‘Pre-Tutorial Hell.’ Unlike its well-known and infamous cousin, at this stage, you are not stuck on endless videos, beginners tutorials, and online classes but, you are creating a vast curation of “helpful” content, which you are likely to never use it.

It was only after I had bookmarked my 60th online course, that I realized what I had done.

I believe that like any new task we attempt to undertake, a thorough research is always welcome. But until you take the very first step onto actually starting something, you are really just copying and pasting.

Follow these 6 steps so you don’t get lost in your studies:

  1. Know your Goal: understand where you are and what you want to achieve. This will help you to better filter your content.

  2. Read it, don’t Skim it: after your initial search, make sure to actually read the articles you selected before opening several new tabs.

  3. Limit your Tabs: so you don’t lose control. Just pick a number and make sure you stick to it. I’m comfortable working with 8 open tabs but for you, that might mean 4, 6, 10. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

  4. Don’t Linger: the internet is a big place, you are bound to find duplicated content. When you do find similar materials, jump to the next tab.

  5. Find a Master: if you are going to study via YouTube — which is a great free learning resource — make sure their learning methods make sense for you. There’s no point in following someone just because everyone else does. Fortunately, there are plenty of gurus on YouTube so chances are you’ll find someone who fits your needs.

  6. Find a Partner: once you decide you are interested in a specific field of study/work, search for specialized online communities. Some of the most common places are Facebook Groups, Reddit, or Discord, but every niche has its own corner online.

Final thoughts

Looking back, I can’t say it was a total waste of time. If anything, it taught me how to research better.

Plus, I have study material to last me a whole year and beyond!

Now it’s your turn

If you are just starting, figure out what is important to you, what you want to achieve, and where you want to be.

While you’ll feel you’re being productive during your research, doing it aimlessly won’t get you far. Just like with learning, you need to be focused and have a purpose.

Discussion (13)

joro550 profile image
Mark Davies

These are great pieces of advice, I especially like "Know your Goal" - programming is all about solving problems and it's easy to get yourself into a state where it's easier to keep watching videos reading blogs instead of actually solving problems.

There is so much to learn in the space - my philosophy has always been "learn enough to solve your current problem", there will always be things that you'll do incorrectly or non-perfectly, just remember that software is by definition soft - it can be changed. Once you've learned a better way of doing something go back into your code and allow yourself to be critical of your mistakes.

Constant learning is good, but don't let it hold you back from solving your problem!!

kokeny97 profile image
Cahue Kokeny Author

Having personal projects in this line of work is essential. You are probably going to learn way more.

joro550 profile image
Mark Davies

I personally don't think it is essential to have a personal project, especially when working as a developer you spend a lot of time programming and whilst it can be fun you really have to know when to take breaks from it, because it can become almost addictive.

For me if I want to learn something I spin up a project and just hammer away until I think I know the concept. Sometimes things that you are learning don't necessarily fit into what your doing, but it's good to have a reference in your mind.

One thing I dislike about the industry is the expectation that developers need to be developing as if it's their only interest. Learn to love other things, i for one think it's okay just to do this as a 9-5 stable job and not have any major interest outside of work. I'm personally not one of those people I actually do development outside of work but it shouldn't be an expectation.

canu667 profile image

This struck a chord with me. I am precisely in this situation. Multiple courses, tutorials and articles. Everything worth learning, yet nothing really learnt. Procastination at its finest.

kokeny97 profile image
Cahue Kokeny Author

I limited myself to the amount of content I should save. Now I am finally doing my courses :D

dan0nchik profile image
Daniel Khromov

My teacher asked me to make an iOS app for late students in our school, and I wrote it completely in SwiftUI. Before that I didn't know anything about it, and knew only basics of Swift and UIKit. This app was a great teacher for me! I think the best way to learn any technology is to create a working project, where you solve real problems

chrissiemhrk profile image

Also fear can play a big role in a situation like that especially for something that seems so daunting like programming if you come from a nontech background. I think the best advice would be to just do it.

kokeny97 profile image
Cahue Kokeny Author

The first step is indeed the hardest. The trick is to get into a nice pace and just go from there.

scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

Ahhhh, been here, done that.

It's a blessing and curse that we live in the era of having so much information a few clicks away.

omicron666 profile image

hehe, this is so true, i have hundreds of courses in my backlog, that would take several years to complete

ehmiiz profile image

I can relate so much in this post. Think I have around 250bookmarks about things I already read. Thanks for the wise words in this post.

kokeny97 profile image
Cahue Kokeny Author

I am glad that my story struck a cord haha. I figure it would be nice to inform people how I got out of this situation :)

hawicaesar profile image

Great tips right here! It can be quite overwhelming. Let's also not forget when there is some new technology you have to learn. Another cycle...only that you have more foresight

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