Learn by doing, supplement with theory later

With the widespread of internet, learning things is never easier in the history of humanity. With tons of amazing resources such as MOOCs (Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, General Assembly, edX, Treehouse, Khan Academy), Youtube, gazillion articles, and chat apps, one could not find a reasonable argument to not learn anything.

The next logical thought would be, ‘How to learn something new in the shortest amount of time with maximum capacity?’.

During my pursuit of finding out the answer to that question, I chanced upon the following which I encourage you to explore as well. They are:

  1. Barbara Oakley’s massive popular MOOC — Learning how to learn
  2. The Art of Learning by Josh Watzkin
  3. Approach learning with Beginner’s Mind
  4. Getting into Flow State
  5. A compilation of what I’ve learnt on How to learn

But that’s just theoretical knowledge about learning.

One of the best way to learn a new skill is to do it. Dive in head first and learn on the go. That’s all there is. No need to spend a fortune purchasing courses, books, mentorship, and whatnots. Just pure practice.

Keep churning out the work. You will get better via practice.

Then, by the time you get good, you will want to get better than before. That’s where the theory comes in. That’s where it gets hard. That’s where you need to spend time thinking, conceptualising, and planning the next few steps.

But before that happens, just keep practicing.

Don’t ever stop practicing.

  1. Make stuff
  2. Make stuff often
  3. Eventually you will learn how to make it awesome

Photo by Darius Soodmand on Unsplash

Why I read physical books

Because sometimes when you need advice and don’t have a steady stream of intelligent network to tap on, books are the next best thing. They are well research, well structured (some good books), well thought out, and have gone through an intensive process where multiple people (editors and publishers) have read the material. Best of all, it comes at a price of a few coffees.

Because many articles published online are written by inexperienced authors whose content may not be well researched and backed up by empirical evidence, too short to trigger deep thought, may be fake, or simply a waste of time. Again, going through a publisher prevents this.

Because I’m able to learn vicariously through the author’s success and struggle in about 5-15hrs. As compared to working hard in figuring out maxims all by myself, I’m able to curate through generous authors’s experiences.

Because a library of books serves as my advisor during difficult times. Or those long sleepless nights where there’s no one to call.

Because I’m a slow learner and I learn better when left to read the material at my own pace on a physical book. I’ve tried using a Kindle, despite it’s pros of storing hundreds of books (imagine carrying 10 hardcover books!) and ability to highlight and export notes away, my ability to learn from a physical book vs digital far outweighs the convenience.

Because I can dog ear the pages and write my own notes longhand on the paper. It’s tactile and flexible. Doodling requires no additional software or skill.

Because it’s offline. No notifications to distract me. No social media updates. No text messages. No prompts or whatsoever. No moving objects. No narration. Just words and pictures on the book and my mind. Particularly useful when doing reading at night or when feeling overwhelmed. Also, I love the smell of paper.

Because it looks good on my bookshelf. A quick glance over to my bookshelf offers instant recollection of things I’ve learnt from the books (even if I only absorbed 1%, it’s a lot).

Because books triggers my imagination, either through inspiring pictures, quotes, or well written paragraphs.

Simply because it’s not electronic. I spend around 6-10 hours in front of a digital device almost every single day and it feels good to get away from it.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Believing the phrase ‘everything is just a google search away’ is hurting your success in life

What you are getting into: 664 words, 4mins read + 4mins video

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Photo via Pexels

“It is shortchanging our intellect if you believe everything is just a google search away.” — Nicholas Carr

Internet is changing our brains.

The world we live in is hyper connected. A lot information is just a google search away. Hundreds of thousands of content are created every single day. Billions of emails sent per day. You won’t even be able finish YouTube videos uploaded a day in your entire lifetime.

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A google search typically yields millions of web results. We typically read a few articles and start forming an idea of what’s happening. So, have you ever questioned if the top few results are manipulated by SEO experts and therefore the content you googled were ‘false’? The first few results may not be the absolute truth. Same goes for news publications (countries’ news censorship) and social media. It’s content are carefully crafted for the mass public, think public relations.

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Studies show that the average person spends 50mins on Facebook every single day. If you sleep for 8hrs, work for 8hrs, spend 2hrs on basic survival and hygiene like eating and bathing, 50mins of Facebook time is 13% of your free time. That’s not even counting commute time which the average person would have. If the average person spends 13% of their free time on Facebook, with the recent rise of fake news, how do they form an educated and informed opinion?

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Disclaimer: I am not against the plethora of information available on the internet. It serves us well. It helps us to connect with people all over the world. Thus making everyone even closer, and humanity a little better.

Ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you spent time doing nothing, without getting bored?

When was the last time you spent some time daydreaming?

When was the last time you read a book without distractions? Enjoyed a good book without the constant buzz of notifications?

And when was the last time you had an opinion without googling for answers?

When was the last time you questioned the source of information? Be it news, books, articles, podcasts, MOOCs, Youtube tutorials, messages circulated via chat apps, etc. You have been well informed about the rise of fake news and how it is being contained at the moment. Even for mass media, sometimes news publications are politically controlled too. Do you believe everything you read, especially online?

Depending on where you are and where you get your source of news, it is really important to think about the relevance, validity, context, and accuracy of the content.

Nicholas then proposed these key points to practice:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Control your mind
  3. Think conceptually
  4. Think critically
  5. Think creatively

How much of your opinions are formed based on the information you consume? How much do you consume? Are your opinions merely opinions or they are facts? Don’t confuse opinions vs facts.

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The 5 key points requires years of practice. If you would like, please feel free to deep dive into specific techniques. But before you do, may I suggest that you write them down, find a place to relax or go for a walk, and ponder about it — whether are you practicing them.

Now, if you have reached this point, turn off the internet if you can, and get some offline time to think. Go sit somewhere without computing devices or internet.

Get some headspace. Go back to the real world. Not everything exists on the internet.

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