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SkilledThree

Increase the Quality of Your Outputs

Image courtesy of the author

All of us are on some particular level of experience and knowledge, but what happens when we expand on what we know or can do? If we narrow it down, we move forward and know where we are heading. We should know ourselves and our goals. In other words, we can either do new things, or we are more efficient at what we do, doing it faster and either leaving us with more free time to pursue what is important to us or increasing our income.

Practice Makes Perfect

As we all know, practice makes perfect, so the most obvious way to get better at something is repetition — do the thing often and long enough to improve. The common rule is that to achieve mastery, you need to invest over 10.000 hours in it (one of the authors can “proudly” say that he has reached mastery in World of Warcraft, an online game that he no longer even plays), which is nearly 14 months of doing just that (sleeping, eating, or watching cat videos on YouTube does not count, sadly). The process can be tedious, but the result is very rewarding, provided that you mastered something that is useful and has some value (even if the value in it is visible only to you, unlike World of Warcraft (unless you are an E-Sport player or a streamer, which he was not)). The problem with this is that it is very hard to start in most cases.

Getting a Head Start with Free Online Sources

As we hinted in the previous section, to get into something, you need information. In today’s world, plenty of information is available for free, if you know how and where to look for it. Simple YouTube intro guides or medium blog post series (such as the one you are reading right now) are of great help. With this, you are guided through the whole initial process, so if we bring it to software engineering, you will find the information about the language you are going to learn, why, in what environment, for which platform, and more. The issue with free online sources is that it is hard to find what is the best out there, what will give you the most. Once you pass a certain level of knowledge, they are near of no use to you since most of them share only the entry-level knowledge, but as with everything, there are exceptions to this rule.

Video or written content is not all there is to free online sources. There are many great podcasts tackling different topics. Some are quite general, while others dig deep into a particular topic. For general podcasts where you can learn a great deal about anything, we can only recommend The Tim Ferris Show (and his books, too), and The Joe Rogan Experience.

Books

Books were and still are a great platform for sharing information and knowledge in general. Many people put their life’s worth of experience into a single book. Yes, it might take you a few weeks to read it, but you are getting decades of someone else’s work directly and that is a good deal. What is left for you is to put it into practice — you have to use what you learn because just by learning, you will not be able to use the knowledge properly. Practice makes perfect. The main difference here is that books are not always free. Especially paper versions or audiobooks. Generally speaking, there are three formats available — paper, digital, and audio. Whether paper or digital is purely up to your preference. If you need paper in your hand and have enough space to store your books, go with the time-proven approach. If you do not care about it or it is for some reason not an option for you, a digital book can help immensely. The audio format is great because you can focus on the content while doing something which does not allow you to read, like when you are driving a car, or where you are walking somewhere. Sadly, not all content is suitable for audiobooks. If the author uses a lot of visual help, or if there are plenty of tables, code snippets, etc. it may be hard to follow the contents of the audiobook, so think carefully before purchasing a book and consider whether the format makes sense for this type of content (look at Audible reviews, for example, people there usually mention that a book is great, but not in the audio format).

Online Courses

Another option to gain knowledge fast is to purchase and complete an online course. This approach can be generally speaking more expensive than books, but on the other hand, authors more often than not digest the information and provide you with what is truly important in an easy-to-understand way and you may get a meaningful certification that is recognized and valued by others. The most popular platforms where you can purchase some online courses are Udemy and Skillshare, but you may look at certification authorities in particular areas, but these are generally speaking for a more advanced audience. If money is not an issue for you, we definitely recommend this form of gaining knowledge, because money is an infinite resource, so to speak. Time is not — the day has 24 hours for everyone and it is only up to us how we decide to spend it.

Feedback Loop

Once you set yourself on doing something, it is very important to have someone more experienced in the area who will review your outputs and provide you with feedback on how well you are doing. If you are working, this is usually not a problem, since you can ask a more experienced colleague who can review what you created and guide you to be more efficient. With this, you will eliminate possible mistakes you might keep doing over and over again, further increasing the quality of your outputs.

For those who are working on improving skills that are not part of their employment, you can look at some metrics, if there are any (for example if you are trying to improve your communication because you work in sales, you can track different effects of approaches you take), or alternatively look for courses, where you get feedback for the trainer.

Work on Yourself

Make a habit of improving your skills and knowledge. You can read a book every morning, or before going to sleep, or watch a video about some topic that will help you to progress. The possibilities are endless.

In this article, you learned why it is important to constantly work on yourself and what methods are available to you. To sum it up:

  1. Improve through practice.
  2. Look at free online sources.
  3. Read books.
  4. Attend online courses.
  5. Have someone review your outputs.

See you next Tuesday to get more detailed information about Udemy and Skillshare platforms.

I believe you enjoyed this article. If you want more, feel free to go through my other posts. I write them when my mind is full of ideas, and I need to offload some of them on paper (or a computer in this case). Please clap and follow me to avoid missing new ones if you like this post. Which one is your number one? Let me know in the comments, and we can discuss your point of view!

I look forward to your feedback!

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Articles from various themes mainly focused on personal development, learning etc.

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Skilled Three

Skilled Three

Freelance Full Stack Software Engineer who helps QA to automate their processes effectively. I’m reducing the operation costs of my client. www.jakubjirak.com

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