Techniques to Stop Losing Motivation When Learning to Code
Learning to code can come with a steep learning curve, and there may be some setbacks. These tips can help
Think about it, in today's world we have access to more information than generations before us. We can learn so many things and use what we learn to have a hobby, job, startup, volunteer, etc.
There are hundreds of programmers that have developed breakthrough solutions and actual products. You know what, they started from scratch just like you.
Most people that become programmers are driven, and driven can mean you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, which can cause you to lose motivation in any given task or goal.
I want to share with you some things that helped me get through the struggle of when I was first learning to code.
The Truth Hurts
Most of us hate to admit the truth because it can hurt, but the truth can also set you free.
OK, that last line was lame, but there is truth in the famous phrase.
To be a good programmer, you have to be willing to accept constructive criticism from others, but be careful when your own brain is giving you too much criticism.
Yup, so stop with the stupid thoughts that are surfacing from your insecurities. Ya know, those that say:
“You can’t do this.”
“Just Give up.”
“Just pay someone else to run your website instead of learning how to do it yourself.”
“Coding just isn’t your thing, it’s been two days and you still can’t build the next Google.”
These are some of the thoughts that surfaced in me when I was learning to code, and I finally know why. Just hang in there and don’t give up on yourself. It will be worth it.
Learning to code is just the beginning — you’ll be challenged with more complex hurdles throughout your career.
Remember when I said driven people sometimes set unrealistic expectations for themselves? Don’t take on too much work because that can destroy a learning experience.
I’ve been there, and so I know what it’s like. I’ve spent 50 hours a week for two weeks trying to set up and run my own mail server, trying to learn and run my own DNS servers, all while trying to get a CISCO certification and finish up a college degree.
This is something that I did because I was unaware of pacing myself. I was so driven to learn and wanted it so badly that I couldn’t wait.
I didn’t give up, and I’m glad I didn’t because there’s no better learning experience than getting your hands dirty and figuring it out for yourself. But do it the right way.
The brain is a muscle, and it gets tired from the heavy lifting, too.
A lot of times, I tried to learn too much at once, and it caused me to have a bad learning experience.
Yes, I did learn a lot, but I was not learning as efficiently as I could be. I finally realized I was suffering from information overload.
“Information overload is when our ability to process information has passed its limit, and further attempts to process information or make accurate decisions from the surplus of information leads to information overload.
Information overload interferes with our ability to learn and engage in creative problem-solving. For instance, venture capitalists with too much information cannot make accurate adjustments to their evaluation process, and because of this their learning is impeded.”— Joseph Ruff (LILA)
There’s even a new name for it, Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS). Its symptoms include:
- Poor concentration due to the overloading of short-term memory.
- Polyphasic behavior or multitasking often resulting in diminished rather than increased productivity.
- Hurry sickness, which is the belief that one must constantly rush to keep pace with time.
- Pervasive hostility resulting in a chronic state of irritability near anger or even rage.
- Habituation or over-stimulation, which causes the brain to shut down and enter a trance-like state.
- Traditional stress, including lowered immune response, endocrine imbalance, depression, and the experience of “burn out.”
It’s time to overcome these types of scenarios whether you’re learning something for the first time or are halfway into an awesome project.
Once you have sufficient self-control, set goals to achieve something. You’ll need to begin properly managing your time in order to accomplish those goals and prevent information overload.
No matter who you are or what kind of business you’re in, you only have a certain amount of time to get something done.
The time that you choose to schedule depends on the task and the deadline. The best way to stay on task is with a calendar ( I use an Excel spreadsheet).
I know a lot of “Learn to Code” programs have detailed information on how long a challenge or specific course takes to finish. This is information you can use to your advantage to manage your time and efficiently work through the course.
For example, most coding tutorials take about four weeks to finish, and they even have a calendar to show the complete workflow. Go ahead and use your calendar or spreadsheet to set aside time for learning. Don’t do two days in one — that’s setting yourself up for failure. Just pace yourself and take it nice and easy. You’ll stay on task and not overdo it. I recommend about two to three hours a day when learning to code.
If you plan out your calendar like that for the entire year, you’ll stay on task and receive a quality learning experience without overdoing it.
Just Relax and Make Mistakes
When all else fails, just relax. Coding takes a while to learn and it’s like anything else — you have to practice to be good at it. A programmer who I used to work with would always send me challenges, and he would say, “Have fun, break something, and then try to fix it.”
You’re going to make mistakes, and frankly, in this line of work, that’s one of the best ways to learn. If things get bad, reach out and talk to other programmers on a forum or in person.
I’m sure you’ll find someone else who’s going through the same thing you are! I found a lot of support by reaching out when I lost motivation, and it really helped me to keep on keeping on.
After all the hard work, I’m an actual software engineer who works full-time coding and writes articles during my free time.