How do you teach yourself?

Self-teaching is a big thing. Even when you’re googling something, you are technically already learning about something.

But what happens when you want to deep dive into a subject, or increase your proficiency, or skills on a subject? What do you do? And how do you go about it?

Again the internet gives us a trove of tips to organise for self-learning. A quick grasp through a barrel of blog posts I found on the topic of self-learning lists advice like (frequency count):

  1. Believe you can do it (ii)
  2. Understand yourself (ii)
  3. Know the end (ii)
  4. Find “How to” materials (iiiii)
  5. Get the tools you need (ii)
  6. Practice (iii)
  7. Record progress (i)
  8. Network, and connect with people (iiiii)
  9. Patience and persistence (iii)
  10. Make mistakes (ii)
  11. Set deadlines, and commit time (ii)
  12. Master the basics first (i)
  13. Work in practical projects with a goal (iiii)
  14. Avoid burnout (i)
  15. Cultivate your growth mindset (i)
  16. Create your study environment (i)
  17. Follow up on references (i)
  18. Teach (ii)
  19. Write & review things (ii)

These are all interesting points. But they have triggered a need to evaluate with me, because they don’t seem equally relevant.

Personally, I’d say that networking, persistence, and writing are my ways of coming to grips with a topic. These points are always top of my mind, and I put effort in these to get ahead on a learning project. Particularly around the aspect of networking, I always need to put a lot of effort in to find out who’s doing what (like finding the lay of the land, understanding key words to describe concepts, etc). I use that to create opportunities to start conversations with the wise people out there.

The rest of the mentioned points seem OK’ish to me, but I would consider most of them as a given for the way I set up my learning.

For instance, I have no trouble in adopting a topic that I love, and finding my motivation for diving in.

Also, I don’t need to remind myself about the importance of finding the how-to readings on topic.

Deadlines, and tracking progress are things that might be relevant to me, but don’t quite see how they’d help me. I do notice that I spend oodles, unrestrained periods of time floating over a topic before getting a focus, but I don’t feel the need to structure that time because I feel it only enriches my insight (but I’m open to suggestions here if your experience is different)

How about you?

Now, I’m wondering, what are some of your best practices for self-teaching? Which of the 19 points mentioned above resonate with you, and which ones don’t? What do you need to invest in/put effort in the most when you’re figuring out a topic, and creating your learning setting?

Perhaps we can start listing some points together on how we self-teach, and then organise some deep dives where we can exchange practices on the most important ones together!

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On a sidenote here’s a practical view :grinning::

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For me, the biggest thing about self-teaching is putting the knowledge into practice. When I put things into practice I understand them not only on an intellectual level but on experiential - information becomes know-how. (most of the times)

Once I understand I want to learn about something sometimes its hard to find “how to materials” because it internet is full of information and it’s difficult for me to pick up what’s right and what’s not especially if there are some contradictions in forums or articles… besides that different solutions work for different people as well.

Creating a study/working/writing even meditation/relaxing environment is an important aspect for me as well. I realized that having a specific area/place where I can work increases my time there and my productivity as well. I’ve read this article recently on designing your environment.

Writing and reviewing helps me as well, it’s similar to putting things into practice you are getting a better sense of the thing you learn for example if I am reading about mindfulness & meditation I will write a post afterward interpreting what I’ve read and that way it sticks to my head.

Making mistakes “fail early, fail often” I am adopting this growth mindset where I learn from my mistakes. I see my goal as a target and every mistake I made I consider it calibration to reach that target, so it is basically not a mistake but an insight or a lesson.

Any tips on finding how to find materials/relevant info, setting deadlines and measurering of progress?

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You’re right. I actually do a bit of this too. I work where my mood takes me. Sometimes it’s to seek people, and I go hang out at a co-working space. Sometimes I feel like retiring to my cave, and I work from my kitchen bar top (like now :wink: ).

I like how the article you mention points to also looking at the little things, like how you’ve fixed settings on your phone. For instance, I do a regular app-culling exercise with the goal of removing stuff I don’t really need/use. All these things evolve towards a crafted environment, eventually.

I don’t really have a reference to share, but some thoughts. For one, I see measurement and mindfulness as conflicting. Trivial tasks are easy to measure, but the more complex figuring out work takes place under a shower, or during a walk with the dog. My experience is when you’re in search/sense mode then tracking progress mostly leads to frustration about lack of it.

What I do have some experience with is in using Trello to get a sense of velocity & momentum. By no means am I proficient in it (like my typing here now is not captured in any Trello card, #lol)

But defining tasks, and making definitions of done for work visible, thinking about workload, and available capacity beforehand, is an interesting reference point for thinking about what is progress, and then checking whether you are making progress. From my experience you get it wrong a lot. Yet by keeping on trying, I have hope to find a flow.

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That’s so true I often find myself into these situations.

That’s exactly where I am at (trying and getting it wrong and learn from it, trying again), and talking about flow it always requires a little bit of challenge. Flow is when you skillset matches the challenge, if the challenge is too big I get frustrated; if my skill set is above it happens that I get bored… it’s an interesting process.

Thank you for the tips and shared experience!