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Learning how to learn

Mads Brodt • July, 2021

2 min read

Development is one of the fastest changing industries on the planet. There's always new languages, frameworks, libraries or tools coming out. Regardless of your current stack or interests, sooner or later, you will always have to learn something new.

Learning how to learn is the art of being able to quickly pick up new skills as they come along. This will be useful throughout your entire coding career, and it starts by figuring out how you learn best. Some people prefer reading books, which are more in-depth, but can also become outdated. Others learn best from video, appreciating the visual elements and being able to follow along. Some learn by reading documentation and source code, and others learn best by just jumping into the code and failing along the way.

What matters is that you find the style that works for you. It might even be a combination of all the above. I prefer watching videos to get a quick overview of a new technology before diving in, and once I understand the overall purpose of whatever it is I'm trying to learn, I'll head into the docs while coding along on the side.

Whichever way you prefer, the key is to narrow your focus to learning one thing at a time. If you try to learn React, NextJS, webpack, node and Styled Components at the same time, you'll likely end up confused - and you won't know where each tool ends and another begins.

Once you've picked a focus area, the only real way to actually learn is to get your hands dirty. You gotta grind it out and put in the hours for your brain to properly obtain the information. Even if you start out watching videos and following tutorials, the real learning happens by writing lots (and LOTS)of code - because the more code you write, the more mistakes you'll make. And as we all know, mistakes are a big part of learning.

Besides coding, there's other ways to boost your learning ability: Taking notes, asking questions, and getting proper rest between learning sessions are all critical to success. And writing blog posts or tweets to teach others further helps you retain your learnings.

Combine all of the above in a format that works for you, and you'll unlock the key to a successful coding career.

I'm Mads Brodt — a developer, author, teacher, creator and blogger. To keep up with all of my writing, follow me on LinkedIn or check out my newsletter

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