Tools and tips on being productive and happy part 2 - Learning

How to keep being effective, avoid burnout and be happy at work and outside.

April 5, 2018 - 4 minute read -
web productivity tools

Coding

This is continuation on my last blog post regarding tools and tips on being productive and happy at work. In this blog post I will be reflecting on my learning strategies, how to keep up with our fast-paced industry and how to put the learnings at test quickly and risk-free.

Learning

Learning is a big part of my life as a programmer. It’s probably true for most programmers. Being a frontend developer the stack just keeps changing and changing and its very easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed.

So here are my tips and what I do to keep learning a ongoing habit and keep the stress out :

Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to keep learning new things, keep engaged with the topics you want to follow without having to get your hands dirty on all of it. Building a mental model of things before you jump in is key to success in learning a new tool / framework / language.

I am currently listening to the following podcasts :

I Used to listen also to a lot of angular podcasts which I have been tuning down since I started focusing more on learning react.

Tutorials / Screencasts

A way that works very well for me in terms of learning is video. I know this is not the case for everyone, some people like books better or just audio. but for me having a good source of videos is a really nice way to learn and keep engaged in topics in a deeper way then the podcasts.

I tend to prefer long kind of courses rather than the small chunked ones, but still I keep an account of egghead for quick learning topics. Here are some videos I have used and definitely recommend :

Conferences / Meetups

Another way I absolutely love to stay engaged is via conferences, talks and meetups. I think this is the way I enjoy the most and although it can be an expensive habit to have it’s certainly a huge source of motivation for me. Meetups and especially local meetup groups provide also a cheap and very insightful way into other people’s thoughts and ideas.

I try make it to at least 1 or 2 conferences a year (the “bigger” ones) like Angular Connect or Frontend United, also some smaller Drupal events like Dev days or even Drupal camps and then I try to make it to as many meetups around Lisbon as I can. Especially the javascript ones.

Side projects / Open Source

It’s all good hearing and watching talks and meetups but when it comes to coding you will hear this a lot, there is nothing like building stuff and putting the learnings in practice. That’s when you encounter real life issues, problems to solve and put your learnings to test and learn new things from it.

I like to build a little project when I am trying to learn new things, if it’s Design related I might do a little theme for themeforest, recently I did a little app for my sister to learn a bit about GraphQL and ContentaCMS.

I definitely recommend if you skip all the previous ones, doing only this one. Now, with that said I don’t believe you have to do side projects. You can just do little play arounds with tools and technologies and not really make any sort of business out of it.

Learning on the job is also a very effective way of learning, try to incorporate that in your company and your daily routine as much as possible. If you are feeling stressed out take an hour experimenting with something that has been interesting you and that at the same time might make your work more productive for the future, your app better. Your boss will appreciate the pro-activity believe me, it’s part of the job. Once you get back to what you where previously doing you will feel better and more relaxed and that will show on how you approach the problems you’re solving.

Wrapping up

Constant learning is just part of our industry, things move quite fast and so it’s only natural that keeping up requires a lot of commitment, focus and strategy to be able to follow without too much hassle.

Having a good process on how to learn quickly and pick up new things it’s extremely important without letting unstable things getting in the way of your day to day job.