How to learn to learn

Hi, Habr! I present to your attention the translation of the article "HOW TO LEARN HOW TO LEARN" .

Notes and observations on how to better organize your learning process.

We, the IT people, are doomed to continuous training until the end of life.

10-15 years ago, knowledge of Java and JSP-serverlets was sufficient for the status of the sought-after specialist. When mobile development became popular, it was possible to master Objective-C and learn Cocoa Touch. Now everyone is obsessed with React, and modern JavaScript is not the same JavaScript as it was 3 years ago. JavaScript of that time is an ancient language now. C C ++ all switched to Go, and now moving to Rust? What about Haskell and Elexir?

Every few years there is a serious change of directions in the development and in the requirements for vacancies.

I like to learn. The process of obtaining new, useful in the work of knowledge brings great pleasure, and the possession of advanced technologies is accompanied by career growth.
In this article I want to talk about ways that help me learn faster and more efficiently.

Fighting procrastination

Procrastination is our sworn enemy. It can take various forms, for example, when we sit back and watch TV shows on Netflix or scroll Reddit. But besides the obvious things, procrastination can take the form of doing small non-urgent and unimportant things that you can not do at all or postpone. By doing them, you instill in yourself a false sense of your own productivity. But think, because if you spent this time on self-education, then the output would have more effect.

How to beat procrastination? Let's try to figure it out. One way is to just go and start doing something. Writers, for example, give themselves the setting: write at least 200 words a day. It is unlikely that you will stop writing the 200th word, because you may have inspiration to write more. At the same time it is necessary to tune in to consistency and consistency, and not to the final product. A few weeks of writing 200 unfortunate words a day - and after some time you will have the first ingenious article for 5000 words in a cool business magazine.

We remove that distracts us

In the fight against procrastination, all means are good. I use the SelfControl program and the Block Site extension for Chrome. With their help, I block all non-work related resources. To scroll the tape, I have to get a phone or tablet.

Manage your time

Split your time into small pieces. This will help you technique Pomodoro. Its essence is that you work 25 minutes and after that you rest for 5 minutes. Time can be broken as it will be convenient for you. The main thing - to be guided by the principle "worked - a little rest." But personally, I do not like the fixed length of time in this technique. Of course, I use something similar in the organization of my work, but I hate tight time constraints. If I have a mood, then I write. If not, I do not write.

We divide and conquer

Throughout my adult life, I study something, and then I teach people what I have learned myself. Next month, for example, I'm going to study GraphQL and develop a course on it. My interest is that I do not sit on the spot and constantly discover something new for myself. I always have where to grow, because wealth of knowledge, as we know, does not happen. There is a benefit in this for those who take my courses: I begin to study the subject with the same thing that my audience begins to learn from. This allows me to avoid the mistakes of many authors of e-courses that create something without taking into account the specifics of their audience.

But then the question arises: How to learn faster? For this, I break the learning process apart. First, I take a topic, go through several courses, read as many books as I can, and after that make a list of topics for the course. Then they become part of the content of my e-book. After that, I begin to take notes on each of these topics separately. Then I print the list of topics on paper and every day I take a couple of ones I like to study. A good mood contributes to greater productivity. If for some reason I don’t have the mood to study something on a certain day, then I transfer the training to the next day, when I have the strength and attitude to it.

Decomposing a large topic makes it easier for us to understand and allows us to quickly understand it. If I disassemble one such piece per day, then by the end of the month there will be a lot of new knowledge in my piggy bank. Each of these fragments is an integral part of the big picture, and all that remains for me to do is to join them together. My posts are the chapters of my future book.

I recommend that everyone try my approach to self-education right now and immediately realize what they have learned. Do not be afraid to start learning something new, because you always have room for self-improvement.

We read books

Another topic worth discussing is reading books. I have just a huge pile of books that I want to read. My reading room is full of wonderful books, many of which I have not even opened. I have read a great many books, and most of them are simply magnificent. It also happened that I was completely absorbed in a book, and after a month I could not remember what it was about. How to remember everything you read about?

I have my own technique. While reading, I emphasize important information, regardless of whether I am holding a printed book, reading from a tablet or an electronic book.
However, this is not enough.

After I’ve finished reading a book, I reread everything I’ve underlined, and in this way I am making my outline of the book. I even began to print such notes for myself, just as I did with the book Deep Work .
These notes not only help me to keep in mind the main points of the text I have read, but also to refresh them and recall everything that I learned from the book.

Or, maybe, I would like to supplement this or that chapter with my own arguments. And that's great too.

We apply our knowledge in practice

The best thing you can do after learning a new programming language or framework is to create your own project with their use. Creating your projects is good because it gives you freedom. You can simply develop your project and learn without going into the organization’s software standards. In order to simply learn something, you do not need a fully scalable application architecture. It only adds extra complexity when studying. Do not deprive of attention and those projects that we develop for entertainment. Personally, I like working with technologies like Glitch , in which the entertainment component comes first.

You can also write your games or follow the example of many developers and put your work on the Product Hunt site. This step stimulates you to the continuous development of your project, because you will be covered with a wave of adrenaline from the fact that real people can use your application.


It is very important to rest your brain. It is wiser to devote to studying something an hour a day for two weeks than trying to go through the same amount in 12 hours in one day. Accumulated knowledge should be deposited in the head during the rest. Diversify your reading hour by listening to a podcast or working on a project.

It makes sense to stop and not spend 3 hours searching for a solution if you are stuck on a task. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Go over. Take a break from something and after that go back to the place where you stopped. I can no longer count how many times I woke up with a ready-made solution to my problem the day after I was stuck on it.

Perhaps the decision will come to you when you take a shower or walk. It can visit you when you walk the dog. Surprisingly, good ideas most often come at the moment when you relax.

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