How do you stop the desire to learn too much?

Bassim RAJI on August 31, 2018

Example: While you are learning a specific thing ( language, framework, new tech ...) you read articles about a lot of stuff and when you come acro... [Read Full]
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(I think you should not stop it but ...)

If programming overflow your life it could become something bad (for physical and mental health). Sometimes you have to limit your time, here is the way I use:
I work on a side-project with fixed stack (Python, without any lib or ORM for example), divided by stories (SCRUM) in a TODO list. Before I start I decide to work on one or two stories. I turn on an timer for 2 hours and I start. I limit my learning with two barriers, time and work.

If I fail to do my work before the timer ends, I write my current work on paper and I finish it the next day. It's a good way to learn how to stop and start working: in my company we are always disturbed (meeting, fire alert, big bug with hight severity...).

I spend a lot of time in webdesign (CSS, choose the right icon or font) so I always do it near lunch: Hunger remember me to stop :)

Enjoy your learning.


Great idea, the best advice I've ever had thank you :D


That's really nice idea. Thank you


I'll give you a different answer as I have struggled with this myself. For me, I used learning as an excuse for inaction. It became a comfort zone. I wasn't pushing myself, and I wasn't growing. I hit a crisis point when I realized how little time we have in life.

I've decided that if I'm going to invest my time it has to have value. I'm not going to sacrifice precious time to feel smarter than someone else. I am confident about my ability to learn and grow. If it is something that I am passionate about I am going to dive deep. At the end of the day though, there needs to be action. It cements the knowledge. The scars of trial and error leave a lasting impression.


"I've decided that if I'm going to invest my time it has to have value. I'm not going to sacrifice precious time to feel smarter than someone else. I am confident about my ability to learn and grow."

This is such a good daily mantra 👏


This is something similar I am going through these days. How did you overcome the situation or feelings when you realised that we have little time in life?


That feeling led to a bad bout of depression. I've done lots of things to combat it. Including changing jobs and therapy. I know it's going to sound unlikely, but one day it just went away. I think a big reason was staying busy. I started exercising five times a week. I made a point to enjoy my weekends. My fiance and I would go camping or hiking. In other words, it doesn't have to be extravagant. Getting a healthy mind, body and soul changes a person a lot.

I hope that helps. You're not alone.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I bet there are A LOT of people feeling the same but they are ashamed, shy or afraid to talk about this and some more that are not even aware of the issue


external limit: Make some kids, your time will be limited so no more wondering around with the latest trendiest tech :D.

self limit: As a "generalist" I suffer from this deficiency as well, but lately I had to simply stop and focus on a few core skills and make peace with the fact that the internet is evolving faster than one man can learn.


So true. Try debugging anything, or learning a new concept with “Dad, what’re you doing? Dad, what’re you doing? Dad, what’re you doing?” on repeat next to you.

I’m only partially serious, to be honest. I like it when my kids show interest in coding, and I look for opportunities to get them interested, because I think it’s good for them, but some days, man, I wish I could lock myself in a quiet room and focus.


I struggled a lot with this, I'll tell you what i did.
I had to embrace the fact that you'll be always learning.
I recognized that I'll never know everything.
I recognized that nobody know everything.
I had to do the peaces with my "ignorance" and my lack of knowledge.
Now, I have a practical approach, I start to learn with a project in mind, then I read the basic things meanwhile I begin my project, when I find a problem or difficulty I return to the bibliology (google, stackoverflow, books, etc) and learn how to solve it. (I repeat this last step my whole life).


"I recognized that I'll never know everything.
I recognized that nobody knows everything.
I had to do the peace with my "ignorance" and my lack of knowledge. "
Recognizing all that is the hardest.


This couldn't have been said any better!!

I recently came to terms with all of the points mentioned here (especially that neither I nor anyone knows everything and therefore we'll always be learning) along with the realization that NOT knowing any tools, technology or process isn't the END of the world.

What matters to me is the curiosity, interest and will (ideally in the same order) to pick-up those things and is summed up perfectly in the below image.



an infinite loop of never end a learning.

It's called "the life" and it is perfectly normal like that. :-)


I'm right there with you! I'm currently finishing up the last 1/4 of a bootcamp course on full-stack development and I'm stalled out. Every time I come up against something I don't know I want to research and read and watch videos and listen to talks on it rather than just throw code up and see if I can do it with what I already know I know. I end up overloading my brain with way too much information that isn't directly relevant to the project and get overwhelmed and lose track of what I'm doing.

I also have a hard time focusing. I'm working on it, but sometimes everything seems to be a distraction, even when I'm by myself with headphones on with nothing open but my IDE.

In a way, it's nice to know I'm not the only one having these issues, but overall it SUCKS.

Best of luck to us both, and our overflowing brains!


Best of luck my brother


you read articles about a lot of stuff and when you come across a good article about a specific subject, you mind automatically wanna learn more about it

Stop right there! Here's what I do at this moment:

  • Copy the reference and create a new item in my to-learn-list (I am using Wunderlist but you can use anything basically).
  • Decide whether this is important for my current goal. If I need to understand it in order to keep working on what I was trying to achieve, I dig deeper right away. Otherwise I leave it on the list and continue with something important.
  • Dedicate a fixed amount of time every week (usually it's the whole Friday for me) where I am not working. On these days I check the to-learn-list and pick the one topic that intrigues me most. If during that time I come up with another interesting topic to learn about, start again from point 1. In order to make sure that I really understood what I was working on, I like to blog about it here.

Hope that helps. I agree with the previous comments that it comes down to focus, time boxing, and figuring out whether you need to understand something right now or if later is enough.


OOoo I like your idea gonna execute it right away. Thank you


Depends on how you characterize too much. From the perspective of knowledge and sharpening skills, there is no too much. On the other hand, if too much means that you feel some kind of fatigue, you should slow down a bit.

If I look five years back, I listened up to at least two episodes of podcasts, spent much time on the job in front of a laptop as well at home.
Learning new languages on the weekend etc.

On the upside, I know pretty much. On the downside, I have to slow down a bit to get not exhausted: max. one podcast per day. But no coding after work. And a strict limit on the weekends. Say I coded on saturday for hours I literally do nothing on sunday.

I am a tech-addict 😉 so it's hard to do non tech stuff.
Otherwise going for a walk with my dog or reading.


have some not tech time , noted


I try to break what I want to learn down into epics, sprints and user stories just like I do with regular projects. I'm looking for something that I can define and achieve within a particular time period. This gives me a clearer focus and something to show for it at the end. Otherwise, I'd be wandering around without a clear purpose.


Make a goal for a precise time to evaluate your learning, Noted.


Find a larger but still specific goal and focus your learning topics around that. For example if you want to make progressive web apps, put more focus around learning things most important for that goal. So you'd tighten your focus to things like accessibility, browser compatibility, service workers, performance, brutalist styles, etc.

I'm not saying you'd only learn these things. My strategy is to get high-level understandings of anything good you can find. From there you judge if it's useful to your specific goals, and if it is that's when you start learning the nitty-gritty.


Had to click on this article because that title was way too far into the "the hell you mean 'learn to much'."

From the text-body, it sounds like you may just be a candidate for Adderall. ;)

But, more seriously, ability to focus is one of many skills that you (need to) develop over time. The self-discipline to focus on the task at hand and complete it is critical to many avenues of personal and professional success. Basically, when you're casting about for how to solve the current problem and you find something interesting, if you find something not immediately relevant, bookmark it and revisit it later (or, just leave open the tab containing the thing of interest - why you'll often see techs with 9Mn tabs open in their browsers).


lol yeah I do have millions of tabs opens until my chrome lag in close everything, but yeah I think I'm gonna begun to bookmark articles until I have free time and finish the priority work


like the idea gonna do it. thank you great article.


I try to plan a lot and be more proactive than reactive.

So I usually schedule what I am going to learn in the next 3 months (for example) and fit things into that.

I find time constraints also very useful 😉


I know that feeling. It is not bad. Why should it be ?

Maybe the right question is : would you be happy without learning ?

I can't. It's a motivation engine and it makes me excited about things. It gives me the strength to go one step further.

A programmer life would be pointless without the curiosity to learn new stuffs, wouldn't it ?


No it's not about learning or not learning it's about never finish a learn (while kind of because learning never end but for example, you are learning Java you just find out python and you were only in part of loops in java so you switch to python and never go back to Java ) I don't know if you got the point ?


Yes I get the point.

For every subject I want to study I start by having a look at some books' timetable. It gives me the key points to understand about that very subject like a sort of study guide. Small parts that I can learn in an hour or less. I have a schedule for the week, with multiple points to learn. It's like a time constraint as others mentioned.

You also can try to find some (very) short (and interesting) projects. I think short is important as you seem to move very quickly to the next subject. Maybe it could help to keep focus on one topic at the time and keep you motivated. It's a good idea that you add the time constraint as other suggested you like sprints / user stories.


There is a term for this: yak shaving


It seems this kind of learner is a "self-taught" learner. This happens, and that's why those learners need a mentor. I believe mentors help learners to stay on track rather than get redirected and end up in an infinite loop, falling into imposter syndrome that they do not know anything at all.


I haven't found a way. After about 3 years I still get the urge to learn or understand every single thing and then moving on to the next one. If someone finds a way then please let me know.


Read comments, too much solutions where you can find yourself.
Good luck


Learning is fun, but it's also just a means to an end. If you focus on the end(s), then you're less likely to go overboard, since you won't reach any end if you just keep busy with learning.


You don't. Learn then do, there is so much good information available it's hard to turn off. So put what you read to use.

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