This old saying is not just an old saying. It is really true. Else how would anything ever get done?
If you want to learn anything, anything at all, you must first practice in a consistent way.
Think about driving a car. When people are practicing to pass their driving test, do they have 1 lesson and go for the test? Do they have 6 lessons spaced over the course of 3 years and then expect to pass their test? Do they have a couple of decent lessons and then expect to pass their test? No…
The same concept applies to almost anything. When you learned to speak, or read, or to walk, did you achieve it the first time, or first few times you tried? Probably not, and you likely fell down a few times and bumped your knees on the way! Learning a new skill will always come with a few falls…
‘Consistency is key’ means that you ideally should practice every day. This will help your brain to form the little habits that are key to learning. Once you have started a page with the tag a few times, your brain will pick it up as a ‘habit’ and hey presto, you know it now, you may even start to do it automatically, you’ve learnt it!
Practicing daily is the only way to truly learn.
Do you think that you should practice all day every day? For 10 hours on end? Without proper breaks?
Then I ended up in hospital. Your body has many ways to react to stress, and it may not be in the way you expect. (I’m mostly ok now)
The excitement of learning something new, particularly something as life-changing as learning to code, is sometimes overwhelming and can hide other things that you are feeling. Remember that. It’s important.
Do you know what else you should do every day, other than practice? Go outside, spend time with your family, read a book, relax, cook and eat food.
You may think that that’s a lot to fit into one day.. It doesn’t have to be! Everyone has different life scenarios and challenges, but as someone who is a full time freelancer, with a cat and no children, here’s how I might split out my day:
- early.am - Gym
- 7:30-8:30 Coffee and writing (blog/book)
- 8:30-9am Run/walk
- 9-9:15 Breakfast with husband
- 9:30-12 Study/write/work
- 12:15-1pm Lunch and walk with husband, chat about work/learning.
- 1:15-3pm Study/write/work
- 3-3:30 Housework
- 3:30-5 Study/write/work
- 5-bedtime Walk/eat dinner/chat/family time
As you can see, I try to split out my day to include nice long breaks to chat with family/friends, and to spend time outside.For me, the times change and I don’t set a timetable, although I have seen that for some people, writing a timetable really helps to ensure they split their day in a sensible way, and aren’t overcome by focus on their work or computer. It is easy to get stuck into a piece of work and forget the time - we have all done it - and I think this is why a timetable can really help people to take breaks.
Personally, I use an app on my Mac called Time Out. This app lets me set break times and locks my screen for a set amount of time, to force me to take time away from the laptop. I have micro breaks of 20 seconds, where I stretch and look out of the window, and I have longer breaks of 4 minutes, where I can go and get water or whatever I want. This means that if, like me, you find it hard to come away from a piece of work, then you can control yourself better and let the app stop you from working for a few seconds to let your brain rest.
You need to let your brain rest in order for information to stay in it.
Like a sponge, it needs time to absorb things...
Unlike a sponge^*, your brain is made of extremely complex organic matter and there is a lot more going on than in a sponge. Therefore, unfortunately, you need to take time to let something new ‘settle in’.
Your brain needs to compartmentalise this new thing that you have learned, and put it away in the right memory box. This isn’t instant, and if you act like it is instant, then this is when burnout happens...
^*I'm referencing a dish sponge, not a sea-sponge, which is in fact made of complex organic matter. Don't @ me sea-sponge-fans.