In this digital age where information gets increasingly cluttered and gets bigger instantaneously, sometimes we stumble upon the notion of how to learn fast, or how to cope up with these loads of information accessible to us in this generation. Developers like me seems to get this pressure very often because technology improves and standards change really fast. If anything, we’re desperate in learning fast.
Also, there are a lot of variables in play on how a person learns fast in a short period of time. Some people were born with photographic memory, others were not. Often times we cannot conclude if increasing the odds of one’s learning new concepts quickly is really determined by standards such as IQ tests, certifications, higher degree of education.
Although we also have to agree that we vary when the person can call his/her pursuits a successful one. Sometimes, it’s all about exerting hard work in what you wanna learn. Other times it’s all about learning smart.
Whether or not which side do you belong, these lists will surely help you as developer to cope up with the changing times in technology:
You probably heard or read every stories of successful people and their life right before they get known in their field or how they run their business. Sometimes they just discovered what they have to do to succeed. But all too often you can see a common pattern among these people: They were simply just too curious and passionate. They’re not successful because they only worked hard, but they’re also hungry for learning and especially they’re curious to make a change.
Charles Darwin who started his theory of evolution right after his voyage in HMS Beagle. He was thought to prefer riding and shooting over studying, and he seems to show an interest in collecting beetles. When he was not collecting specimens, Darwin devoted time to trying to understand the islands’ geological features, especially the prominent tuff cones near his campsite at Buccaneer Cove. All of this is because of his love and passion for nature in general.
Elon Musk is simply just curious and passionate whether mankind can fly and live on Mars. Bill Gates got curious whether Altair 8080 can run BASIC programming language back in the days that marks the beginning of Microsoft. Steve Jobs has a love for calligraphy and implemented his love for it in Macintosh product.
More importantly, constantly show an interest in everything, including the small and trivial things to keep your passion burning.
Be hungry for learning
The greatest names in every industry has one thing in common: they love learning. I think this is obvious because you love what you do.
To me, learning something new is my fuel to do more things. The more I get curious, the more I get excited. It’s revitalizing my energy. I do that either by reading books, learning from my mentors, showing interest in what I do, and everything in between.
Exploit your reward system
You might wanna exploit how reward system works when you’re trying to learn a difficult concept, or trying to finish a difficult task. People loved being rewarded, regardless of your profession or craft you’re trying to master.
Here are some hacks that might work for you to exploit your reward system:
Eating something delicious after solving difficult problems
Reward yourself after doing difficult things, it could be anything (eating delicious foods, play sports, etc.).
Posting your accomplishments on social media (don’t brag too much though)
As human beings, we felt the need to be recognized, to be loved, and to have someone compliment us of our efforts. Let this be your reward system. Although, use this one with caution as social media proved to be addicting.
Enjoy the process, not the results
Many people thought that they could only enjoy something when they’ve produced an output.
Wrong. In reality, when you don’t enjoy doing something from day 1, chances are you’re not gonna make it in finish line either way. You have to both trust the process and your input rather than focusing on your output.
I remembered the time I enjoyed developing software for the sake of developing software apps till I made some significant income enough to sustain and work on my own. For the most part of my pursuits, I enjoyed and loved the process of learning. I enjoyed every success and failures of my path towards mastery and making an impact by building joining the teams I believed in.
To learn fast, one must enjoy the process. And by enjoying it, you avoid the risk of getting burned out easily while doing the work you have to do to achieve it.
Look for the right environment for your pursuits
Looking for the right environment where you can thrive and grow is definitely a must if you want to stretch yourself to the limits. After all, you can’t grow if you only stay in your comfort zone.
We people thrive on to novelties or trying something new. I agree based on my experiences so far because the more I get into the same routine with no challenges, the more I get bored and eventually not stretch myself anything further. And the more I don’t stretch myself, the more I don’t learn something new.
Since I’m working remotely with my clients around the globe, I make use of coffee shops to see new environments, see new people around me while they come and go to coffee shops, and invigorate me everyday because of the fact that I’m going to work in a new environment. I constantly transfer from one coffee shops to another and cultivate my motivation to be always on the fly.
In addition, set intentions at the same time when you’re looking for an environment where you grow like changing your environment to accomplish something fast.
Have a solid understanding of basic fundamentals in your field
We seem to be forgetting something when it comes to understanding of what we’re pursuing. If anything, learning the basics are one essential step you need to take to be successful.
People who made significant contributions in the field knows what they’re doing. Mathematicians, Scientists, Engineers. People who made great names have at least a solid understanding of the basics in their respective domains and crafts.
In business, not learning the ropes has been proven to be costly in your efforts and time either. You can’t just simply put up a business without knowing what you’re getting into. At the very least a basic understanding is a must.
Focus on one thing at a time and grow your skills to learn fast
It has been proven that multitasking can cause unhappiness and stress, while getting absorbed in one activity at a time proved to be the thing that makes a person happy and get things done faster.
To support the evidence, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyí’s concept of “flow”, Mihaly’s concept focuses on getting “absorbed” in the moment or your current activity to achieve maximum potential and optimal experience. In the concept, when you get into the “flow” state, you usually have this unexplained feeling that you’re too absorbed in what you’re doing that you don’t care in your surroundings at all. You just focus in the moment, the activity, the difficulties that you’re trying to solve, but ending up feeling really satisfied and accomplished.
Not only that focusing on one thing at a time will get you to your goals and succeed pretty fast, but you will also get to be happy and satisfied at the same time. I experienced this a couple of times when I do programming and I was really pumped up to finish what I started. All of a sudden my state of “flow” just kicked in and I succeeded in finishing my current task for the day.
Key takeaways to trigger the flow
- Psychological, or internal triggers, are conditions in our inner environment that create more flow — They’re psychological strategies for driving attention into the now.
Clear goals, immediate feedback, and the challenge/skills ratioas the three most critical.
- Pattern Recognition — the brain’s ability to break down existing patterns, colors, data, shapes, movements, sounds, concepts, successes, risks, failures, etc., and create new ideas using those patterns by linking new ideas
- Risk-Taking — the courage to bring those new ideas into the world
- Immediate Feedback — This trigger is a partner of clear goals. Clear goals tells us what we’re doing, immediate feedback tells us how to do it better. If we know how to improve performance in real time, the mind doesn’t go off in search of clues for betterment.
- Think different — For those of us who want more flow in our lives, we have to think different, simple as that.
Improve your “grit”
What we need in education is much better understanding of students in learning from a motivational perspective, from a psychological perspective
An interesting finding made by Angela Duckworth when she was teaching 7th grader students in the public schools of New York City. What struck her was some great performers don’t have great IQ scores but they performed and scored well in the study material. Additionally, some smartest kids weren’t doing so well or not learning quickly, yet they aced some subjects (or so at least).
She calls it “grit” — it’s a passion and perseverance for long-term goals. The greater the grit, the greater the stamina in pursuing your goals. To improve “grit”, you just actually need to have what we called the “growth mindset”. The ability to learn is not “fixed”. And it can actually change with your effort.
This attitude can be greatly applied to your developer life.
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