There is no getting around this one, a vital key to improvement is putting aside the time to self-study.
Finding the time to study can be next to impossible with a full-time job. This can be made even more difficult if your concept of studying is restricted to forcing yourself through a lengthy textbook.
Whilst the benefits of reading cannot be questioned, and many people may be able to get through books whilst also benefiting from them, I found there was only so much I could absorb after a long day at work. And it wasn’t much…
As with most things in life, consistency is key, I found I was simply not able to be consistent with this type of study. There had to be an easier way to get relevant information into my daily routine…
Here is my daily schedule of how I get over 3 hours of studying in a day…
I spend my 2-hour journey to and from work listening to audio content. This is often in the form of podcasts. This was an absolute revelation and I just wish I had started a sooner. There are what feels like an unlimited number of podcasts available, ranging from extremely technical topics to communication skills. I was surprised how I was able to quickly absorb the topics and use the information I was gaining to further my skills. I was getting through topics I had previously only dreamt of studying.
Probably the best parts of listening to podcasts is they are absolutely free!
I have provided a link as an example of the kind of things I have personally found beneficial.
Another form of audio studying is listening to Audiobooks. I have found that there are less technical topics in audiobook format, so I find alternating between a good technical podcast and a less technical audiobook keeps it fresh.
I use an excellent service called Audible to listen to audiobooks.
30 mins to an hour of actual sit-down studying using video tutorials. It may not seem like a lot but if done consistently it is more than enough time to power through a video course on Pluralsight or YouTube.
A few popular online video course providers are listed below:
Full programming courses can normally be covered in a few hours. The key here is consistency, even if you only get 30 minutes in, I find I can squeeze this in at work during lunch or at the end of the day.
30 mins a night of reading. This can often be a technical textbook, but it doesn’t have to be. These are often blog posts that I’d bookmarked during the day. In the past, when reading was the only form of studying I was doing, I felt that it was crucial that I completed a chapter or two per sitting. As a result, I was getting through a fairly large amount of content without understanding most of it. By this point in the day I’m already content with the amount I’ve taken in, so I now feel a lot less pressure to complete books, and as a result, I’m actually able to complete and understand them sooner.
Having said all of the above, I feel one of the best ways to learn new things and improve your current understanding is to learn from those around you whilst going through your daily routine. This can be through team members or even people you meet for the first time. Maintaining a mindset of continuous learning can be one of the best things anyone can do towards self-learning.