I want to learn to find the time to learn to do something.
May 17, 2011 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Best practices for big, self-directed personal education project? I wanna learn something. How do I find the time and organize this?

I would like to learn Flash and ActionScript. I've already picked up a subscription to Lynda.com and have enjoyed the videos and coursework. I'm already familiar with all the other Flash resources out there.

What's killing me is organizing the time I need to put into this. I can't consume all of this in one sitting. Neither can I do it in tiny little nibbles. I've also got work and kids to distract me.

How should I attack this? An hour a day? M-W-F? What's worked for you when you want to take a big bite of something like this?
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
For coding stuff, I'd never get anywhere in an hour a day - you'd just be getting into figuring something out when you'd have to break off your train of thought. If you can, plan on doing at least 4 hour chunks of time, even if that means that you have to work less frequently.

Also, the Lynda tutorials are awesome for getting started, but I always get way more invested in learning something when I have a real project - it helps to have a purpose and goals to work toward, even if they are self-imposed/imaginary.
posted by ella wren at 3:48 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Those Teach Yourself in 24 Hours books might help you structure things. I'd aim for an hour a day and then maybe try and make a project on your own one day on the weekend, using the stuf you learned on your own. Then you can refer back as needed.
Teach Yourself Flash in 24 Hours
posted by backwards guitar at 3:59 PM on May 17, 2011

I'm the opposite of ella wren, I find that systematically and carefully taking a small bite of knowledge every day really builds up. Say, one chapter of a Missing Manual or Dummies or In 24 Hours books. Maybe less than one chapter, as long as it's a fixed amount per day. It's the repetition over time that helps the knowledge to really sink in. Maybe I'm exceptional, but I can't imagine learning something in 4 hour chunks of time - 30 minutes usually saturates my attention sp

ooo shiny
posted by tel3path at 4:17 PM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

I've found for programming that having a real project is super important. If you don't have one big project, at least try to actually implement whatever you learned in the lesson to help make it stick.
posted by mxmm at 5:12 PM on May 17, 2011

Start working on something. Learn as you go. What tends to happen is you struggle for a while, then you get a burst of insight, and have a hugely productive day, then run up against the limits of what you know, etc..
posted by empath at 5:31 PM on May 17, 2011

What worked for me is to make myself a syllabus, like I was creating a 1-semester college course just for me. I spent a bit of time researching the scope of what I wanted to learn, and made a list of relevant topics that were pieces of it. Then I wrote up a syllabus that had weekly lesson plans and goals, and I stuck to it. I work better with a deadline, so having those weekly goals really helped me. I can say, "I'll do it tomorrow," forever, but if it's "due" on Sunday at midnight then I only say that for... 6 days? Having the syllabus let me be ambitious but still reasonable with my plans for what to cover in what timeframe. Having a set end-point for this learning project helped, too. I always figured if I still wanted to learn more afterward, I could create another syllabus for a new "course."
posted by vytae at 6:16 PM on May 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

I have been in your shoes many times. I find it best to shape your learning around a project, rather than shape your project around your learning. Even if the project is utterly pointless. But it should be clearly defined in your head in advance.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2011

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