A Constructive Guide to Up-Skilling in 2018
Be Protective of Your Time
This point is a difficult one, but if you can succeed with it you will be able to gain that hour a day you need. There’s a concept of time-blocking which erupted onto the internet some time ago which is very interesting. On your calendar, you block out everything. Be it lunch, up-skilling time, going to gym etc. With so many things fighting for our attention, protecting your time is a hard discipline, however, once you get it right you’ll learn that your time is actually yours. Take a look at my calendar: The blue events in my calendar are time-blocked. You’ll see that I’ve left 15 minutes on either side to adjust /cope with life. We’re not robots, so we need time on either side of our activities to be human (take the remote away from your puppy, go to the toilet etc) blocks can be replaced as you can see in my social calendar, I’m going out for dinner with friends on Thursday, from 16:00 — 17:00 is my study time, and its part of my working hours. I’ve left 17H00-18H00 completely empty to allow me some space in my day to adjust to any unforeseen. Maybe I need to finish a piece of work or do some admin, it’s time that can be interrupted that I’m not precious about. I try lead an incredibly balanced day. You may notice that I’ve blocked off time for lunch and breakfast as well. I use this time to chill out a bit, catch up on news, or whatever I feel like doing that day. If you would like to read some further resources on this topic:
- The ONE Thing
- Time Blocking — The Secret Weapon For Better Focus
Bigger isn’t Better
Our society and culture is big on big.
Great things are done by a series of smalls things brought together.
Learn How To Learn
“Learning” is a word that has become very meaningless of late. You can’t learn with Facebook open, or with WhatsApp pinging you about plans for the weekend. Your mind is not good at staying focused and the 21st century doesn’t help. I struggle to stay focused just as much as the next person. That being said, you can adjust your behaviour and habits to benefit your learning. We’ve spoken about protecting your time, for an hour a day, but what about protecting your mind? You need an incognito mode for your brain sometimes. It requires a little bit of growing up on your part. Leave your phone alone, close Facebook, this is the time you are protecting to get something worthwhile. You don’t need to be connected with everyone in your life while you do it, you just need to focus on the website, IDE or tutorial you are viewing, using or attempting. You’d be surprised and quite possibly horrified the first time you put your mind to this. You’ll start to see just how productive you are with a little self-discipline instead of procrastinating about it. The time you spent distracted trying to understand Redux may take you half the time when you’re focused on absorbing what other people are trying to get through to you.
Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
Most of our giant failures in life is due to the fact that we give up. We take on tasks that are too big to iterate on, in order to achieve some misguided sense of success. Iteration is key. Some people are naturally gifted learners, others need it drilled into them a few times before the coin drops. If we go back to our React example, React State is really something that I’ve been trying to understand in its entirety. When you read the documentation on the React website its a seemingly simple concept to grasp. However, when you jump into the code it becomes more elusive than it originally lead on. It’s a far fetch to be able to state (no pun intended) that I would/could have fully understood State just by reading the docs. I needed to spend many hours iterating over the concept. Reading, asking, trying, reading, trying, failing, succeeding, failing some more and reading again. Our learning behaviour patterns aren’t linear, in other words, they don’t look like this: They look like this: Iterating over smaller tasks becomes manageable but also rewarding as your chances of ascertaining that knowledge becomes a lot more in your favor compared to trying to understand the Go programming language in a week.
Building Our Equation
So what does our equation look like? Lets consider: Our productivity at the end of the day is going to be a combination of how our focus compounds the small tasks that we want to perform as well as how we perform them, multiplied by our iterations. In other words, we can iterate a 100 times over, with small, achievable tasks that we can focus on and perform in the correct way. This will eventually build up to a large goal, like being proficient in React, or whatever that may be for you. By performing this process, an hour becomes incredibly useful each day. It does require some planning beforehand so make sure to factor that in. Here’s a look at my schedule for a week in January for self-investment: As you can see, my goal is to become more proficient at React. I’ve dedicated myself to achievable tasks that I know with my current energy levels, obedience and discipline I can achieve if I put my mind to it. The great thing about this? Not only does your mind respond so well to the way that you are approaching your up-skilling it simultaneously sustains confidence, reward and gratification. Even better, because this technique is so scalable, in 12 months you’d be incredibly surprised at how easy it becomes for you to pick up concepts and apply them. Not to mention your new found knowledge of web technologies.