“If it’s important enough, I’ll make the time. If not, I’ll make an excuse.”
I agree with Marie Forleo who is the author of this quote. But at the same time, I’m aware of how hard it is to find time to learn something new, to start changing your life for the better.
We all are busy. We have our jobs, families, hobbies. We are not machines who can walk and work without sleeping or eating or simply resting.
But there is no change without a little bit of sacrifice.
What do you need to start learning to code?
Learning to code can cost next to nothing. Most probably you already have everything you need to start. You have a device, internet connection and you can read and write. You don’t need a fancy computer or an expensive bootcamp to start coding. You can do it even with your cellphone. There are some great apps like SoloLearn that you can use on your phone and learn different programming languages and be in touch with other learners from all of the world. But even if you don’t have a laptop, you can go and learn in the library. Many websites offer interactive playgrounds for learning, so you don’t need to install anything on the computer.
So do you risk anything? Yes, your time.
But look at it from another perspective. Even if you wouldn’t make it for a living and earn tons of money, you will have great mental exercise.
Learning to code is not like building a house or even knitting a blanket. You won’t spoil any materials.
So why not try and commit yourself to code daily (or almost daily)? Why not take part in a challenge like 100DaysOfCode?
What if you wouldn’t be able to finish the challenge? But what if you would? If you don’t try you won’t get to know what you’re capable of.
So how to find the time?
The best way is to exchange one activity with another.
For me finding time for coding was easy. I used to knit and read a lot. But at one point knitting wasn’t so addictive any more. So I could exchange those 2 activities.
Look at your timetable and think about things you are no longer passionate about. Or you simply don’t want to do them any more.
Maybe you don’t need to meet your bestie or even family every other day. Or you don’t have to call them and talk for hours. Maybe you don’t have to vacuum the house every day. Or maybe it’s enough to watch only one episode of your favourite Netflix series. And maybe you don’t need to be active on all social platforms.
The situation can be a bit more difficult when you’ve got small kids.
It’s nothing wrong when you allow your kid to be alone and play alone for a while. You don’t need to give your full attention all the time. You can be close enough to make sure that your child is safe but at the same time do your stuff. It’s even better for kids when they can explore the world (in this case their room/house and their toys) without parents’ instructions.
How to make coding a habit?
I said before that I exchanged knitting with coding. My husband and I usually were watching TV after dinner. But he was usually taking a nap and I was knitting looking at the screen only from time to time. It was our lazy time so we were often watching the same series, over and over again. I often had my laptop nearby. I was reading blog posts, checking knitting patterns, reading books while knitting with a telly on. So when I started learning to code I didn’t change all my habits. I simply changed the things I was reading on my computer. And I started using headphones with low music. I was next to my hubby. And I was doing almost the same thing as before. Sitting on the couch with my laptop. When I became more and more interested in coding I moved from the couch to the table and then to a separate room with a big desk and 2 monitors ;-)
I hope you can see in this example that you can start forming a new habit by taking small steps and creating hooks.
How to create those hooks?
We people don't have unlimited will power. Every morning we start fresh but during the day we use our energy and will power. That's why planning to learn new things after all our activities is not a good idea.
It's better to decide that you will code as a first thing in the morning (if you have enough time in the morning) or as a first thing after dinner or choose a given time and set the reminder.
If you like checking social media and you do it as a first thing after turning your computer on, tell yourself that the first thing you will do on your computer is opening FreeCodeCamp site with an interactive tutorial (or any other resource you’re using to learn to code).
Very often, we plan something and then forget about it. If you need it, write your goal down. You can write: "I will open FreeCodeCamp website just after I switch the computer on." and stick the note on your computer. Make the site open on startup in your browser.
You can also create separate accounts on your device for your coding and leisure activities (social media, videos, games).
- Remember! Start small. You don't have to code for an hour or more from day 1.
- Think about what you don't enjoy any longer or what you don't need to do every day and use that time for coding instead.
- Create an environment. A separate account on your computer only for coding where you are not signed in into any of your social media, gaming or video platforms. Or a simple note on your computer.
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