6 Tips To Help You Improve Your Craft

“It never gets easier, you just get better”

Lifelong learning is the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.

I have listed below some tips and advice to help you with your pursuit of knowledge. If you have any advice of your own please do share it below. I am by no means an expert on the subject and all of this is based on my own experience so feel free to scoff at it and educate me with a comment.

Regardless, here are some tips that you may find useful:

1. Be selective about where you work

This is, in my opinion, the most important tip.

Your work environment is where you will spend a good portion of your day so a bad environment is essentially just a waste of time. It also influences your mental state when you are not working. For example, if your work day was full of stress then you are likely to remain stressed for the rest of the day which means you will not be able to effectively study or practice anything when you get home.

There are many factors that contribute to a bad work environment such as comfort, the team, the management, the learning opportunities, and even the project or company mission itself. You should try to surround yourself with motivated and helpful people who encourage you to keep moving forward. What you are working on doesn’t need to be your life’s calling but you should at least be interested in it so as not to lose your passion.

It isn’t always possible to get the job you want and everybody has their own unique circumstances so you will have to compromise at some point but be careful not to hurt yourself in the long run.

2. Be selective about what you study

At first, this strikes you as counter-intuitive because we’re pursuing knowledge so it makes sense to go after all the learning opportunities available to us.

This is wrong.

Essentially, what we’re after is not lifelong learning but rather effective lifelong learning. You could probably read 20 books in a day but how much of that information are you really going to retain? You could take all the web development courses you find on Udemy but how much time would you waste going over the same material? It’s possible to be a professional music producer and a designer but that doesn’t mean you should be learning all of it at the same time.

I understand the urge to pursue all of your interests but take things one at a time (or at least alternate effectively.) It would actually take you longer to achieve the level you want if you try to learn everything all at once and it’s likely to cause you a lot more stress which could make you lose motivation.

Take the time to research what it is you want to study and pick out a few useful resources to get yourself started. Constantly evaluate yourself, your learning material, and your goals. Make adjustments as you progress. Once you reach a goal, set a new one. Improve your process and keep going. You have the time.

3. Pace yourself

Knowing what to study isn’t all that matters. You also need to know when to study.

If you have 6 hours to spare in a day, you should set aside at least two hours for relaxation or fun. Don’t overwork yourself. Your brain needs to rest too.

Trying to maximize the amount of time you spend studying isn’t always the best approach to maximizing results.

4. Practice

The best way to get information to stick is to put it into use.

Side projects are a great way to put your new skills into practice. You are free to experiment and make as many mistakes as you like.

Fail then learn. This is how you grow.

If you can’t think of a side project to work on, ask a friend or colleague for an idea. You could even freelance. You don’t even need to actually get the job, just take the idea and use it to practice.

Balance your time between studying new things and practicing them.

5. Keep the momentum going

Don’t stop.

You need to study regularly and consistently to stay motivated and excited about what you are doing and the progress you’re making.

Skipping a whole week, for example, could be devastating because at the end of that week you might not be motivated enough to get back to studying. That week could easily stretch into a month and, before you know it, you’ve forgotten a lot of what you were studying so you’re going to have to waste even more time reviewing.

Even if you only manage to spare a few minutes, use them. This way you can keep your momentum going.

6. Don’t build a schedule, form a habit

This one is difficult because it takes time but it is extremely important and it ties in with the previous tip.

In order to keep your momentum going you may decide to set a schedule for yourself to stay on track. For example, everyday after work you set aside an hour to relax before you start studying for three hours. Being specific like this could hurt your motivation.

By trying to structure it like this you will be turning it into a chore. It is your passion, not laundry. Ease yourself into a habit by being less specific. Instead of “I will study for three hours every day after work”, try “I will study a bit every day”. This way if feels less like a chore.

Of course there’s more to forming a habit than just that but I can’t really give you a foolproof method which is why it’s difficult. However, it is the key to making progress.

Hopefully some of these tips help you make progress with your own goals and, if you have any tips of your own, please share them below.

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