Why I decided to learn something new every month, and how I will do it

Starting a new challenge: 12 topics to learn in 12 months

I am about to start a challenge that really excites me 😁 and that I am very proud of. The challenge is simple, to learn about 12 interesting topics in only 12 months and share feedback about each of them in this “Learning Lab” blog!

These topics can be very different: music, programming, designing, sport, languages, dancing, entrepreneurship… They can be almost anything!

I will explain in this article how to approach the challenge, the methodology and why I am doing it.

Why the h*** am I doing this?

Six years ago I started to define goals to make my life better, to be a better person and to bring meaning to my life. Since then, for every 6 months, I started defining various focus areas along with their corresponding goals.

I ended up realising something, year after year most of the goals were either related to building projects (websites, designs, music) or about learning (programming languages, spoken languages, sports).

Moreover, I also realised that there is still a lot of subjects and skills I want to learn.

But the most important reason is that learning and building projects is what makes me happy!

Why learning with this methodology will also make you happy

  • You will be self satisfied, feel rewarded (having new knowledge, building things) and be proud of yourself.
  • It will make you employable (by adding lines to your résumé and having a ranged portfolio of projects).
  • You cannot be bored since you will change topic every month.
  • You will have knowledge to share.
  • You will be more sociable (by the increase of knowledge and your culture).
  • Having a breadth of knowledge will make you think different.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” - Albert Einstein

The (not so 😬) secret methodology in detail

This is the current methodology I will follow. It is based on my learning experiences. There are three steps: the definition, the preparation, and the learning process.

Define what you want to learn

Start by making a list of all the topics you want to learn, as I said before they could be anything (as long as you are willing to do it 😬)

Do a little brainstorming to start with some ideas, and then add new ones whenever they come to your mind or anytime you face problems in life that require new skills.

Here is a list of the topics I personally want to learn

  • Music production
  • Design guidelines
  • Drawing
  • NPM (programming related)
  • Progressive web apps (programming related)
  • Accelerated mobile pages (programming related)
  • React Native (programming related)
  • Design theories
  • Swimming (yes, it’s true, I cannot swim 🙈😵)
  • Social network automation
  • Wine tasting

Prepare your topic

Before starting to learn one of your topics you have to prepare for it.

  1. Find a mentor: someone who you can ask questions when you cannot find the answers yourself.
  2. Define well the scope of the topic, because one month is really short.
  3. Find the best learning resources. It could be a book, documentation, an online course, or an app. You can ask your mentor for help with this.
  4. Select an achievable project linked to this topic. For example if you want to learn photography the project could be to build a portfolio, if you want to learn programming, it could be a simple website about yourself. The project should be directly linked to your learning resources in order to retrieve, apply and try directly what you just discovered.
  5. Track your progress. I advice to use a Kanban board like Trello (really simple to use) or if you are an Evernote user you can use Kanbanote
My personal Kanban using Kanbanote

As you can see above, on the Topics column on the right, I wrote the project I have in mind after the “/”.

Learning process

I made this learning process based on my experience, some reading on the learning process I undertook, and and some discussions with Pooja K. Agarwal, founder of RetrievalPractice.org

To learn in the most efficient way you have to do these tasks in parallel and not sequentially. By retrieving and applying the theories you will memorise and understand better what you just read:

  • Read the book (or documentation, course, app).
  • Take notes about the thing you need to remember. If there are things that you need to really remember by heart, you can use flashcards and create your own to training routine. I personally use Evernote to take notes, and AnkiDroid (there is AnkiMobile for iOS) to create your flashcards.
  • Apply the new knowledge as soon as possible on the project you defined, and publish it if you can!

What’s next?

After this article I’ll just start the challenge with the first topic 🙌.

I will consider the challenge successfully accomplished if I ensure that a minimum of 70% of the topics (and projects) are completed, which means 8 projects out of 12 done.

You can find the updated list of my learning challenge below. I am also planning to publish new posts for each topic.

#1 — Music Production
https://medium.com/learning-lab/how-i-learnt-music-production-and-produced-a-song-in-one-month-99abcdb7d224

#2— Swimming
https://medium.com/learning-lab/how-i-learnt-how-to-swim-and-understood-my-fear-in-less-than-1-month-2e541e20d438

#3 — Progressive Web Apps
https://medium.com/learning-lab/how-i-learnt-progressive-web-apps-in-a-month-and-implemented-it-635448ed1330

#4 — Ideation, Creativity and Design
https://medium.com/learning-lab/4-how-i-learnt-how-to-steal-like-an-artist-in-a-month-and-designed-built-my-new-companys-c5c68ffcf251

#5 — Webpack 3
https://medium.com/learning-lab/5-how-i-learnt-webpack-3-and-created-a-jekyll-and-webpack-boilerplate-edd86645fd5e

#6 — E-commerce
 https://medium.com/learning-lab/6-how-i-learnt-how-to-build-an-automated-e-commerce-in-one-month-949ddf7e02c6

#7 — Colors
https://medium.com/learning-lab/how-i-learnt-about-color-theories-and-made-my-best-color-palettes-in-one-month-a461604ca669

#8 — Cryptocurrency trading
https://medium.com/learning-lab/how-i-learnt-about-cryptocurrencies-trading-and-started-to-invest-c426ca4ae1df

#9 — Blockchain & cryptocurrencies
https://medium.com/learning-lab/how-i-learnt-about-cryptocurrencies-and-built-one-in-2-months-5d6d58616358


If you also want to try this challenge, try the process or if you want to share your knowledge leave me a comment, you may also be a writer of Learning Lab.


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