Developing a learning habit — Tips part 3

Kim Dryden is the Senior Managing Producer of Udacity’s video team

First parts of the series here:

Tips #6 — #9

Track your progress

In order to see how you’re progressing, as well as to hold yourself accountable, you have to track your progress. My system is a very physical one — in my apartment, in a spot I have to walk by multiple times a day, I keep a calendar. And on that calendar, I put dots. Each type of learning has its own color: orange for learning front end web design, green for my doc film project. Any day I spend more than 30 minutes working on either of those areas, I put a dot. It helps me recognize when I’m on a learning streak, and motivates me not to break it.

My dots for last week Farmer’s Almanac calendar FTW)

It’s also data I use to discern my habits, which lets me to focus and maximize my efforts. As an example, my little dots tell me that I’m consistently most productive mid-week, so I’ve designated Wednesday evenings as a black-out for everything expect learning time. No social engagements, no cooking, no TV.

This kind of tracking helps me with lots of other healthy habits, too — I track my exercise and meditation with the same system. And there are lots of other ways to track these habits. My partner prefers an app called Productive, so try different formats to see what feels best for you.

Find a study buddy

On the video team, we have several informal groups dedicated to various kinds of learning. There’s Camera Motion Collective, Mograph Club, and Study Squad (for taking our own Nanodegree programs). The names are a bit silly, but having learning partners is not! These groups meet regularly in set locations, and we both support and hold one another accountable.

Take note of what works, what doesn’t

The tips and tricks listed here are what work for me; they’re not one-size-fits-all. If you try something and it’s not right, don’t fret. Try and make it a point to experiment with different methods, though, and take note of what works and what doesn’t, and learn from that. It’s been really helpful for me to share these learnings with my team — most of these methods listed above are techniques I’ve learned from others.

Finally, celebrate success!

When you overcome a roadblock like my resizing drama, or look at your calendar and realize you’ve been killing it lately, rejoice! You deserve it! Making learning a habit and is not easy, so go ahead and savor the success.