Are you in self-paced learning? Do you want to maximize your time and resources in your self-paced learning? Here is a short guide with tips on how you can maximize the time and resources and gain more out of it. Learning is fun and especially when it is done in a good way. In my quest to learn and grow my skills in data science, it has been a journey that demands consistency and persistence. Have you been learning a new skill? Are you planning to switch careers? How has your learning journey been?

In 2018, I embarked on an awesome journey of exploring the field of data. For some time, I wondered how things will look like after one year of learning. I wanted to sharpen my skills as fast as I could and get myself ready for a data science role. But this was not the case by 2019.

In this article, I’ll share some ideas that in my view, are useful in developing and maintaining a culture of learning. I would like to point out at this point that this is not an exclusive list of methodologies for learning and neither is it a prescription cast on stone. So feel free to adopt what is good and can work for you as long as it can facilitate your learning journey.

Define your goals for learning.

It is important to start by having a clearly defined goal of your learning journey. Why do you want to spend time studying and learning a new skill? Why do you want to learn that course? What is your purpose for learning? Are you learning to develop an existing skill or are you learning a new skill?

For my case, my goal has been to study and develop my skills in data science since I have been considering a career transition. I needed to gain new skills, concepts and intuition into the field of data science. So when this was clear, I knew what content to look for and how I wanted to gain the skills through my learning.

Identify a learning path.

This simply means knowing where you are and where you want to be. It helps in knowing where to start your learning journey. What is the already existing knowledge you have? It is important to get a good foundation of the concepts before diving deeper into the area of interest.

For instance, data science is a very wide subject and the content can be overwhelming. Therefore, one is required to select an area of interest and master it well. In this case, identifying the area of interest and then learning progressively towards it will provide the much needed satisfaction in the learning journey. Simply put, start with the basic and grow gradually. What topics and techniques do you need to begin with?

For you to maximize your self-paced learning, look for curated content, from simple to complex and move gradually into mastering the skills. There are several sites or YouTube channels that have tutorials curated to enable progressive learning.

Have a structured learning program

I know that people have different daily schedules. Some have very busy days. In most cases, there are always competing commitments that need attention. In the midst of these, one needs to have a plan that enables him/her to spare time, however little it may be, to commit to consistent learning. You can still make good use of the little time to expand your knowledge.

Always remember to evaluate your learning against the short-term goals to have a feeling of how you are doing and make adjustments where possible.

If possible, set a side time for learning every week. Depending on your schedule, this can be daily, or particular days of the week. Guard this time! In addition to that, set some short term goals for the week. What do you want to achieve at the end of the week and how will you know that you have achieved it?

The short-term goals help in boosting your morale to keep learning. It helps in staying motivated through the learning process. Always remember to evaluate your learning against the short-term goals to have a feeling of how you are doing and make adjustments where possible. This will make you maximize your self-paced learning.

You can also set a timetable for your learning. The principle here is having a guided and structured way of learning.

Put your knowledge and skills into practice

Maximizing self-paced learning can be challenging but putting the skills into practice can go along way in making it interesting and satisfying. Nothing makes knowledge stick and skilled sharpened like practice. As they say, practice makes perfect. Have breaks in between reading and studying to practice what you have already learnt. For the case of data science, do some projects, however simple and basic they may be – but do something. This is the only way your labor in studying will make sense.

This habit will help to reinforce your learning and enhance your mastery of skills. It helps a lot to learn new things and use the skills to solve an existing problem.

Do not learn alone – seek help and mentorship from others

Strive as much as possible to share your learning journey with other people, seek for help. Learning from others is a great thing. You can work on projects and ask someone to review it and give you honest feedback. This feedback will be useful for you to improve your work and build your skills.

In conclusion, everyone has an opportunity to learn. Learning is a process and it rewards! If you don’t mind have a look at my article on my data science journey.