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Teaching Yourself A New Skill With Courses

Teaching Yourself A New Skill, the latest episode of Design Life, caught my attention.

I love learning. I’m easily lured onto landing pages of online courses or eBooks. Usually I leave with a digital receipt.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money on courses. If I’m being honest, I’ve spent more money than time because I still haven’t completed all of them.

Here are some of the courses I’ve taken;

The list goes on…

Product to Profit Masterclass

Online courses are hot right now. It means there’s more choice than ever and the quality of material is high. It makes choosing which courses to invest in difficult.

It means we’re guilty of buying courses and not finishing them, just like I did.

Listening to this episode of Design Life sparked a few thoughts. I want to explore how to get more out of online courses, eBooks and learning new skills.

Invest In Your Learning

I like Charli and Femke’s suggestion of allocating time and budget to your learning. This is something I haven’t yet adopted, but it makes absolute sense.

Set yourself a monthly budget for online courses or books. It means you won’t be tempted to do what I did, which is buy every course you come across.

Restricting yourself to a monthly allowance prevents you from going overboard on material, giving you a chance to finish what you start.

Secondly, schedule learning time into your calendar.

If you devote 30 minutes a day to progressing through material, it will push your learning and skills forward. Following a schedule means you’re more likely to make time for it.

If you don’t schedule it, you’ll whittle that 30 minutes away on something else (oh HEY, YouTube and Netflix).

Get Practical

When I first started learning to code, I bought dozens of books on the subject. Anyone admiring my bookshelf would think I was a seasoned programmer, but this was far from the truth.

I never practised the concepts in the books.

Applying the principles you’re learning to a real-life project is the key to learning. The material won’t stick if you’re not practising what you’re learning.

Back in 2013 I was a subscriber to RailsCasts, now-defunct Ruby on Rails screencasts. I’d watch the videos, but nothing really made sense.

It wasn’t until I started building my own app, Lodger, and applying the tutorials in a practical sense that I was able to learn how to code.

The app I built

Tackle One At A Time

To get the most from each course, tackle only one at a time. I’m guilty of juggling several courses. I want to hone my business skills and brush up on code!

Jumping between a coding class on Treehouse and a business course is a recipe for disaster. You’re less likely to apply the principles being taught and soak up the material.

Paid courses > free courses. Although some free courses are produced by people I trust and the quality is high, paid courses usually signify better content.

Free courses will test your commitment to learn. Paid courses provide more of an incentive. Nobody wants to spend money on a course they never begin.

I Love Learning!

We’ve established what my problems are with learning:

  1. I buy too much educational material like online courses and eBooks
  2. I don’t always finish (or start) them

I know I’m not alone in this, so how can we implement some of Charli and Femke’s tips?

Introduce a monthly budget. This will prevent you from getting sucked into every landing page you stumble upon, but also make learning part of your routine.

Factor time into your daily schedule so you make progress with your education, and get practical with the material. Don’t just read or watch—take action.

On Another Note…

As I was writing this post I received an email from Paul Jarvis—creator of Creative Class.

This is the course Charli and Femke mention in their podcast, which covers the business, marketing and sales side of freelancing. It’s one I’ve also taken. Jack customers get $50 off.

Paul mentioned he is revamping Creative Class to make lessons better and more actionable. This is one course I’d recommend freelancers make time for.

Author avatar

Ashley Baxter

Ashley is the woman behind Jack. A photographer, occasional public speaker and tinkerer of code, Ashley's aim is to simplify insurance. And deadlift 100KG.