Self-education: let me invite you on a trip!

Hi, Habr.

Some time ago, I was tempted to learn web design and some programming language. And, of course, I had a logical question “where to start”. Moreover, the situation was aggravated by the fact that I had no experience either in web design or programming.
What to do? How to study yourself? Where to move, and what to grab?

Through various trial and error, I developed for myself a convenient system of self-training, which I would like to talk about (what if someone is also useful?).

For a start, many thanks to the Habr and Habro-people, from the articles and comments of which I made an unreal amount of useful information. I was extremely inspired by the idea of ​​creative blocks from this topic, which I took as the basis for self-learning.

Stage 1: Choosing a Direction


First you need to decide what you want to study. Do not be too lazy to answer yourself questions about why you need it, what it will give, whether it is really interesting to you. It helps a lot to choose what you can really learn for a long time, enjoying the process.

For example: I had a desire to learn how to sew. I got a bunch of manuals, textbooks, sat down for them and realized that the process itself was boring for me. I was annoyed by chewing the basics. I would rather soon have already sewed up the planned complicated outfit. That was the catch - I didn’t want to learn sewing, but rather quickly get the desired result, so the learning process itself was perceived as an unfortunate waste of time.

Try to specify for yourself as much as possible what you will learn. Let, for example, “I want to learn how to program” turn into a desire to learn a specific language, and “I want to learn how to design web” - into a choice of a specific activity (sites or applications? Exclusively design or layout too?). So it will be easier for you to look for materials for further training.

Stage 2: draw a map


So, you have chosen what you decided to study. Take a piece of paper, a pen and draw a diagram on which try to display what, in your opinion, includes the object of your choice for training. Break your goal into small components that you will need to master.

For example: One of my goals is web design. Since this is a rather voluminous concept, I divided it for myself into the following subgoals:
a) design theory (here I included everything that concerns both the web and non-web areas regarding user perception - color combinations, fonts, usability);
b) layout (html, css);
c) the development of tools (Photoshop, in my case).


Stage 3: Choose a route


Choose subgoals? Fine. Now it is time to find materials on them and adjust if necessary.
Look for articles, textbooks, thematic blogs - everything that matches your chosen subgoals. Make sure that the findings correspond to your level of perception, are understandable and comfortable for study.

For example: Personally, I found everything on the hub, for myself, delving into the thematic sections and Q&A. As a rule, comments are as useful as the topics themselves, and often more useful.
I copied all the found links and recommendations to a text file, then I looked through them, read the reviews and decided whether I needed it or not.
In the process of searching, I had to adjust my initial list of subgoals - for example, “layout” was divided into “typesetting: theory” and “typesetting: practice”. Thus, I got here such a list with which I decided to start:
a) design theory (Steve Krug “Do not make me think!”);
b) layout: theory (Jeffrey Zeldman “Designing with Web Standards”);
c) layout: practice (“30 Days to Learn HTML and CSS” with Nettutsplus);
d) mastering Photoshop (lessons with Nettutsplus).


Stage 4: Travel Planning


This is where the fun begins (as I mentioned at the very beginning) - the system of creative blocks.
To begin with, I recommend honestly admitting to yourself how much really free time you have per day that you could spend on training. Do not plan in the style of "come after work and free."

Firstly, to ponder over something for more than 2 hours without a break is hard and fraught with a decrease in productivity.
Secondly, you may well have different household chores and some other activities that you would like to take time on.
In general, your task now is to choose a specific amount of time in which you can engage exclusively in training.

For example: I chose for myself 1.5 hours on weekdays and 2.5 hours on weekends.
Here, for example, my schedule for a typical weekday:
6 - 6.30 - I get up and put myself in order;
6.30 - 7.30 - creative block (yes, one of my creative blocks is half an hour, but I always try to create an interval with floating borders for this, making a discount on unforeseen circumstances);
7.30 - 8 - get to work;
8 - 17/18 - work;
17/18 - 19 - dinner, household chores;
19 - 20 / 20.30 - 2 creative blocks;
20 / 20.30 - 21 - rest;
21-21.30 - translation;
21.30 - 22.30 - affairs on the site;
22.30 - 23 - rest;
23 - 23.30 / 00 - Ruby;
23.30 / 00 - 00 / 00.30 - bath, then sleep.

As you can see, I have a lot of floating borders at time intervals. I try to make allowances for various circumstances and not to drive myself into “time debt” to myself.
I have a few rest gaps. This is necessary to relieve the brain a bit (sometimes I play something, just lie on the bed or continue to do something from the schedule or creative blocks, if I am very passionate about it).


So, you have chosen the amount of free time for creative blocks. For example, 2 hours a day.
First, decide for yourself which working period is optimal for you and your brain. How much can you continuously learn something, mastering everything perfectly?

For example: For me, this is a half-hour period, then my attention decreases, I begin to spin, run after tea, try to open the browser and so on.

Let's say it's an hour for you.
That is, optimally you can spend 2 hours a day on 2 blocks (each hour). Fine!

Secondly, choose the best time for training for yourself. When no one bothers you? When you are not pulled? When do you best absorb information?
Put the block at this time. Try to make the creative block your habit (you do it every day, at the same time, regularly). Then you will notice that by the appropriate time you are ready to engage in training, and you no longer need to pre-configure yourself.
I would strongly recommend placing creative blocks at a time when no one will interrupt you. During the block you are only learning. Everything, this is your time for study, not for running around for work, not for conversations with the second half, not for solving any problems. Only study is exactly 1 creative unit.

Third, take your list of learning goals and their sub-goals and consider how many blocks you would like to devote to each item. So, following our previous example, you can spend 2 hours every day on 2 creative blocks an hour. Total: 7 days * 2 hours, where 1 hour = 1 creative block. It turns out 14 blocks.
Distribute 14 blocks between your goals and sub-goals, assigning each a specific number, according to importance and complexity.

For example: Here is my schedule for web design:
(9 + 3 + 4 - 9x0.5 - layout; 3x0.5 - theory; 4x0.5 - photoshop)
0.5 (layout - theor)
0.5 (layout - theor)
0.5 (layout - theor)
0 , 5 (typesetting - pr)
0.5 (typesetting - pr)
0.5 (typesetting - pr)
0.5 (typesetting - pr)
0.5 (typesetting - article)
0.5 (typesetting - article)
0.5 (theory - circle)
0.5 (theory - circle)
0.5 (theory - circle)
0.5 (fs - tutor)
0.5 (fs - tutor)
0.5 (fs - tutor)
0.5 (fs - article)


So, as you can see, I have added some more blocks for reading thematic articles and blogs.

Fourth, you can proceed with blocks the way you prefer - plan specific blocks ahead for the whole week and make them static; in the morning, choose blocks according to your mood (I do this, for example, every day a different schedule, but within the given number of blocks per day and a pre-selected training course) and so on.
I would advise you to celebrate something done so as not to get confused: you can make a schedule immediately for every day, writing down all the blocks, or you can simply make a list of them and cross out what has been done (and so every week).

Fifth, do not forget to take the time to adjust your blocks. After choosing a schedule for the week, update it to the next one at the end of the current one. You might already be learning something, and you might want to reformat the blocks or add something more time, and something less. Do as you like.

A few notes from an experienced traveler:


From my own experience:
  1. Avoid the 9000 tutorial over trap. I hit her. I constantly came across textbooks better and better, and I clutched at one, threw, clutched at another. Do not. Just spend more time choosing material. If there are several books or courses you like, select one and write the rest somewhere. As soon as you finish the first, you can choose another and continue to study.
  2. Try to combine theory and practice. Initially, I tried to study layout by reading one theory. The read was kept in my head for some time and disappeared safely. It’s easier to remember and understand something, putting it into practice. Think of an exercise, a project, a task - anything, and work out what you have learned from it.
  3. Over time, I came to the conclusion that it makes sense to write down what I learned. I usually use Cal Newport recommendations for this (I write in the form of a “question and answer” - I formulate a question from what I have read, in the abstract I write the answer to it, I combine the abstract into a short conclusion). It is useful to formulate once again what you have read and then to search for the necessary information easily.
  4. Do not tune in to the fact that learning something is easy, but also a straightforward segment from simple to complex, along which you will gradually move. Because it’s easy to merge with such a mood on any snag, justifying itself “I can’t do this, I don’t understand, I can’t do it, so it’s not mine.” Sometimes there will be downtime, sometimes you have to go back, and this is normal. Water wears away the stone, as they say.

Have a nice trip. You are sure to learn everything you want. Do not hurry. Do not doubt. Do not drop. And the results will certainly appear.

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