Last updated on January 18th, 2023 at 02:29 pm

Let’s face it; whether you are a developer or an architect, it is hard to keep up with the flow of information and keep learning technologies, and there is no magic way to do it, so don’t feel bad about it; we are in the same boat!

Instead of making drastic changes to improve my learning process, I found it more effective to use small changes and simple tactics. I am using the following techniques to enhance my learning skills:

  • Use the Pomodoro Technique

During his first years at college, Francesco Cirillo defined the Pomodoro Technique in the late 1980s. He was frustrated over his low productivity, and this is when he discovered this technique:

“I made a bet with myself, and it was as helpful as it was humiliating. I asked myself, ‘Can I study—really study—for 10 minutes?’ I needed objective validation—a time tutor—and I found one in a kitchen timer shaped like a Pomodoro (the Italian word for “tomato”). In other words, I found my Pomodoro. “

This simple technique keeps you focused on what you are doing. Prepare books and resources you want to learn from, then put a timer for 25 mins (more or less).

During this period, keep your phone away and avoid web browsing or distractions. Just focus on the material you are learning and nothing else.

After this period expires, take 5 mins break (more or less). During the breaking period, try to stand up and walk around, take a glass of water, or whatever you want to refresh yourself. Avoid spending this short break period browsing the internet or checking your social media.

After repeating focus sessions (25 mins) and breaks (5 mins) 4 or 5 times, you can take a more extended break period.  

You can find many resources about this technique, including the book of Francesco Cirillo, but for now, all you need to start using this method is presented above.

  • Focus on one topic

“Switching your brain from one task to another wastes mental bandwidth. Instead, focus on one task at a time until completion”

Focus on the same subject during several Pomodoro sessions. I used to work on several topics changing and refocusing again on another thing every one or two Pomodoro periods. It was very unproductive as switching topic is expensive for your focus. Keep learning and focusing on one thing in at least three or four Pomodoro sessions before considering moving to another topic.

  • Plan your learning sessions

In my experience, setting “big” learning plans for the next year is inefficient. I prefer to have short adaptable plans. I define my learning objectives for the next weeks and prepare the resources to use.

Before starting my focus sessions, I write down the topic, books, and resources I want to use so I will not waste my time scrolling and looking for resources during what is supposed to be focused Pomodoro sessions. When I start my learning focus sessions, I already know what to do and just focus on it.  

  • Eat the frog first

“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.” –Brian Tracy

Start learning the most challenging part first. I usually do it early in the morning when I am energized. And don’t be rude to yourself; hard staff takes time to digest, so don’t be intimidated and get back to your topic again until you become more confident and motivate yourself to keep learning. It is all about consistency and determination.

  • Make your learning process a habit

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ― John C. Maxwell

Make your learning process a habit. It is not about learning when you feel motivated once a week or a month. This way of learning is unstructured and leads to nontangible results. Instead, build your learning process around habits. For example, you plan to spend between 6 pm and 8 pm every Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday morning learning. Prepare your topics and resources beforehand, and write down what you want to learn. Then, keep improving your process until learning becomes a “natural” habit.

  • Take Notes

Taking notes is critical when you are learning and in your day-to-day job. If you read a book and you don’t take notes and review them, you will probably forget the content more quickly than you may think. Taking notes and reviewing them makes a difference. I use both manual and digital supports such as Word or OneNote. You can later take a photo of your manual notes and include them in your digital support if you want. I can’t emphasize enough the importance not only of taking notes but also of reviewing them.

About the Author

My name is Adel Ghlamallah and I’m an architect and a java developer.

View Articles