- Some concepts can be confusing, especially if you’re coming from another language.
- It’s hard to find the time (and sometimes the motivation) to learn.
- Once you’ve understood something, it’s all too easy to forget it again.
- The tooling landscape is so vast and constantly changing that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
1. Don’t Let Future Decisions Stop You from Progressing Now
One way to help get out of the indecision trap is to have a road map for what you need to learn. For example, to become a front-end developer, your road map might look like this:
Breaking it down further, you can make a functional web page with just HTML and CSS. Seeing the individual steps laid out like this, it becomes easier to see what to focus on now so you don’t waste time worrying about things that should come later.
For those who would find it helpful, I’ve written a more detailed learning road map for becoming a front-end developer.
2. Don’t Let Confidence Trick You into Forgetting Things
When you read something and it makes sense, it can be tempting to move on to the next thing immediately. Maybe you’ll understand the next thing and then move on again. But soon, you’ll arrive at a point where you realize you’ve forgotten some of the previous things you’ve learned, so you need to go back. You give the previous concepts a quick glance to refresh your memory and then move on again. But now you’ve forgotten something else. You keep repeating this back-and-forth dance until you get to a point where you realize you’re completely lost. You get discouraged, take a break, and then when you try to come back, you’ve forgotten everything.
Fortunately there’s a simple two-step cure for this problem:
- Limit the amount of stuff you learn at one time.
- Practice for real — actually write code.
When you learn a new concept, make sure to try it out, play with it, get comfortable with it, and even combine it with other concepts. It’s so important to actually type out the code in any examples you are following, because that’s what helps you absorb it. Also, limiting the amount you learn at one time will help you retain the material, for the simple reason that it’s easier to remember fewer things.
This process feels like it takes longer than just reading through things and moving quickly, but it actually takes much less time because you won’t need to backtrack as much. I learned this the hard way on several occasions.