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Cover image for How do you prioritize learning new things?
Russ Hammett
Russ Hammett

Posted on • Originally published at blog.kritner.com on

How do you prioritize learning new things?

I’ve been having problems prioritizing my (limited) free time at home. There are lots of things I want to do, but am unsure how to proceed. How do other approach this?

Free time?

I don’t seem to have a lot of time for learning. My expectation is that there will be more time available to me as the kids get a bit older (currently have a 6 month old and 3.5 year old.)

The list

When I do have free time, I struggle with what I should focus on. Here are a few of the things I would like to do, not necessarily in any order of priority:

  • Work through Pluralsight courses
  • Write blog posts on stuff I know, to reinforce my own knowledge, get the info out there to help others, and to have something to go back to when I inevitably forget.
  • Write blog posts on my learning experiences with new stuff that I don't necessarily know to help my own learning process.
  • Tinker with robotics. I currently know nothing of this, but would like to at least get a basic familiarity to try and get the kids into stuff like this at some point.
  • Work on personal portfolio website
  • Related to above, learn some front end frameworks to have “something” to build with.
  • Migrate my blog to yet another blog engine, as I’m seemingly having nothing but issues whenever I try to pick this thing back up.
    • I am currently struggling with hexo not working with my images in the front matter correctly, it seems like every time I try to write a post, something new comes up.
  • Work on things around the house - it’d be nice to pick up some woodworking skills. I could really use some organization throughout the unfinished part of the basement, and garage. I think being able to just build some stupid shelves would be beneficial, but am worried about the up front costs to get started in something like this.
  • Read more books.
  • Participate with the non-profit I attempted to start a relationship with, then free time quickly became a thing that was non-existent.

Ideally, I’ll get to all of this eventually, but how do I get started? I guess writing this post is somewhat a step in the right direction, at least to get a list out there.

What I used to do

Several years ago, when I had almost all the free time in the world (pre-kids :D) I did a lot of reading. I would always alternate between a fiction book, then a non-fiction book. Generally the non-fiction book was either a programming/technical book, self-help, etc. The fiction book was usually always cyberpunk or fantasy.

I suppose something like the above would work, just seems like everything is such a time commitment, and if I don’t get through one “thing” in a week (using a plural sight course as an example), I’m not sure I’d retain enough to have made use of the time.

What my current weekdays look like

My weekdays, I feel like are completely shot, but perhaps having it in a list will help me find points of opportunity.

WFH days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)

  • 4 - 4:30a wake up, feed baby, shower
  • 5 begin working day
  • 6-8, depending on when toddler wakes, help get kids ready for school, get em to school
  • 3 wrap up working day
  • On Wednesday (try) to get a 30 minute workout in.
  • 3 or 3:30-5 free time (I usually use this time to relax, rather than learn)
  • 5 - 7 make dinner, eat dinner, clean up, spend time with family, prep for tomorrow
  • 7-7:30 time with family
  • 7:30 - 8:30 family bed time ritual, baths, bottles, bed time for kiddos
  • 9 - 9:30 bed

Office days (Monday, Thursday)

  • 4 - 4:30a wake up, feed baby, shower
  • 5 begin working day
  • 6-8, depending on when toddler wakes, help get kids ready for school
  • 8:30 - 9:30 / 10 depending on traffic, commute
  • 3 - 4:30 commute home, pick up kids
  • 4:30 - 5 free time
  • 5 - 7 make dinner, eat dinner, clean up, spend time with family, prep for tomorrow
  • 7-7:30 time with family
  • 7:30 - 8:30 family bed time ritual, baths, bottles, bed time for kiddos
  • 9 - 9:30 bed

Weekends

  • Weekends are pretty tough to put into a list, we generally have some activity going on, at least ideally.
  • Cleaning, laundry, vacuuming, etc.
  • Sunday workout
  • Can probably swing a few hours to myself assuming I’m able to get my butt out of bed at my normal time (though I generally try to sleep in a bit).

How do you do it?

How do you make time for your continued learning? All the while, keeping in mind, you obviously have to make some time for yourself. You can’t spend all of your free-time head down learning, seems like a good way to go crazy, no?

Should I try to alternate between things on my list? Concentrate on one? Curious what others do!

Top comments (6)

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edelreal profile image
Elías E. del Real

I have kids, and definitely find it challenging. But I’ve found it possible to double-up some activities with non-interactive learning. For a while, I walked for 50 mins about two times a week, and was able to read through The Rust Programming Language book. I’ll sometimes watch videos on a topic (Wes Bos’s CSS Gris course) while eating at my desk. I’m thinking of trying out podcasts during commutes. Today I’m reading dev.to on my phone as I eat lunch.

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kritner profile image
Russ Hammett Author

Can you elaborate on the rust programming book? you were reading this while walking? or doing an audio book? I don't think i would get much out of a programming audio book, but I don't think I could read while walking either :D

I generally skip lunch, and thankfully already listen to podcasts on my few commutes during the week, but good tips nonetheless!

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edelreal profile image
Elías E. del Real • Edited on

It was the ebook version (doc.rust-lang.org/book/); I read it on my phone in a browser as I walked.

Best of luck finding time to invest in staying sharp.

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willsmart profile image
willsmart • Edited on

TBH I find turning the telescope 10x harder than just looking through it as it wobbles around of its own accord.

I usually just end up voraciously inhaling a subject as it happens to go past the lens (like when I need it right now for a project or work, or if I am reading an article and get hooked into a night of research)

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thejoezack profile image
Joe Zack

Just wake up an hour early and...uh, oh...nevermind, you're already up hours before sunrise :)

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kritner profile image
Russ Hammett Author

yeah...

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