What I learned from one year learning on my own from home !

When it comes to doing something from home, there are two kinds of people, those who get excited and those who get seriously depressed, especially when it comes to learning or working, but for me, it seemed like something I wanted to do for a long time, in this particular article I’ll share the advantages and mistakes that I made during my process.

Curbing curiosity:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool." Richard Feynman.

When I first started, I had a clear goal for what I’m supposed to do, I made a schedule and began working on my tasks, life is good I’m enjoying the learning process, hours later, from learning closures (a concept in Javascript) I found myself reading an article about the human consummatory behavior, how I ended up there, algorithms know-how.

In order to reduce the risk of being distracted, solutions that I found useful :

  • First of all, get rid of the goddamn phone! easy trick put it in a room other than where you’re working, and make it in silent mode, hearing a notification bell is the last thing you wanna hear when it comes to focusing.
  • close all the unnecessary tabs in your browser, log out from all your social media accounts, when I let my Facebook logged in my brain generates intense impulses that I couldn’t resist, and I end up scrolling, that’s what Facebook engineers are great at doing!
  • If you’re ultra curious, and you’re an article junky, in your browser you can make a folder and mark them as favorites and read them later.
  • If none of the lists above worked, download the material you need to learn whether it’s documentation or video tutorials, and turn off the internet from your laptop, you’ll benefit from 2 hours of focus rather than 8 hours distracted.

this will save your time about 80%.

The lonely road :

When I was learning from home, I thought I’m the only one on earth who's doing this thing, I felt lonely and it increased over time, it sucked my energy up, and I had a good time dealing with that, as social animals, we’re prone to feel lonely if we’re not engaged in some sort of group that stamps our identity, my suggested solution is to find a community, Twitter is a good place to start you’ll find plenty of useful people and resources, servers on discord as well, but I would suggest more finding someone who’s at the same path as you and meet them personally, real conversations help immensely.

Italians and the productivity guilt :

When I was working on a subject or trying to learn a concept, I didn’t know how much time the task would take me to finish, the day ends, I look at my schedule I still didn’t finish the task and that made me to feel guilty for not being as much as productive, and I was dealing with this for quite a lot of time, a bad solution to avoid is to try to work in quantity, working 20 hours a day and sleeping 2 hours will only break you up. This introduced me to the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, it was discovered by an Italian engineer called Vilfredo Pareto, it simply says 20% of the causes are responsible for 80% of the consequences, this could be applied in large parts of our life, for example, 20% of what we do in our life is responsible for 80% of our happiness, 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the results and so on.

This means that 20% of the work will generate 80% of the results if you’re working 12 hours a day 2.4 hours of focus will generate 80% of the productivity of your day, I try to pick a part of my day when I feel more energized usually in the morning, but there is a misconception people should be careful of, the level of focus varies across individuals, a task might take 1 hour for a senior engineer, while it will take days for someone who’s just starting, that’s why in the latter example 2.4 hours will generate 80% of your productivity and it’s good to keep in mind that you compare your productivity to what you were yesterday/last week and see how it could be improved.

I love it, therefore you can’t touch it :

When we’re working on a particular project, we put part of ourselves in that project, we start to romanticize with it, to the point when someone criticizes our work we take that personally, this is popular among juniors because they think that because they worked hard, therefore, they owe the world to give them praise on their work, this is not the case buddy, it’s important to detach yourself from the project and keep in mind that only the work that’s being criticized not you personally, this will open new doors to improve your work and save you a great deal of time, also it will help you overcome the fear of the judgment.

it’s easy to get lost :

When I first started I was so excited and I had the confidence to achieve whatever goal I write down on paper, but this seemed to decrease over time, it’s called the Dunning and Kruger effect, it simply says: poor performers tend to overestimate their abilities, but over time it decreases when they face challenges. The time I was facing a challenging problem, I started questioning my own abilities, this led me to the fear of failure, and now I’m not only trying to fix a technical problem but I ended up with an existential crisis, my suggested solution to this is to first of all calm down, and embrace the beginner mentality, this is a lesson I learned from Josh Waitzkin author of the art of learning, simply I’m a beginner and if I can’t solve a problem, I turn back to basics and try to deconstruct the problem to even smaller problems and from the bottom up, I try to find what I’m missing, and fill the gap, this seemed to work like charm.

in my experience, I think learning on your own or being the so called self-taught is not for everyone, but for those who are willing to take the path, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s easy to get lost, that’s why you need a compass to keep yourself in the right path, or you’ll find yourself wasting time and effort trying to catch the mirage, actually, it’s harder than the ordinary path that’s why you need to be prepared, know exactly what’s your target, why you’re doing it, it has to be precise, then apply heavily, work on projects, that's one way to make sure that you’re actually learning and not deluding yourself, get honest feedback from an expert or people above your level, make a deadline this is huge, or you’ll find yourself working forever, I didn’t go in details in planning and the mistakes I did, also the concept of tracking and measuring, I’ll leave that to another article.

If you find this 0.1% useful, I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment or dm, I’ll be grateful to discuss more.