Stop Passive Learning. Start Active Learning!

Everyone who knows me knows it!

I love learning because I am curious and passionate about my work.

I am writing to you because I want to share a lesson I learnt.

I’ve always been a huge fan of RSS feeds. I subscribed to a lot of blogs and websites using Google Reader. I really loved to know everything about the industry, about new technologies and so on. I loved RSS readers so much that I used to recommend them to all of my professional friends.

After few years of adding content, the number of news articles in my feed was overwhelming. I had to spend at least a couple of hours every day to read everything, and often had to skip very interesting content because I didn’t have the time. In those occasions, I’d start to feel guilty for not staying up-to-date.

Then I took some time to remove the feeds I didn’t really need and that gave me some rest. But after few months the situation was like before.

There was a constant flow of news and interesting content waiting for me to read, but I didn’t have the time.

A constant feeling of not doing enough.

This is crazy isn’t it?

I know for sure that I was not the only one. I have lot of friends who are passionate like me who understand exactly what I mean.

One book really inspired me to reflect deeply on my approach of learning:
The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life.

This book is remarkably obvious and incredibly right.

It starts with a very simple fact.the power of less

We don’t have enough room for everything. We can’t handle the stress if we try to do everything. We just can’t fit it in our lives, no matter how much we’d like to do so.

This means that

If you want to do more, you need to do less.
Identify the essentials and eliminate the rest.

Think about your goals and answer the questions:

  • What will have the biggest effect on everything else?
  • Which items do you actually need and which ones are just things you want?

Why you should do this?

It isn’t meant to leave your life empty.
It’s meant to leave space in your life for what you really want to do.

Stop Passive Learning. Do more Active Learning!

People find their greatest enjoyment not when they’re passively mindless, but when they are absorbed in a mindful challenge. The first step is to find work that you’re passionate about. Next, you need to clear away distractions and focus completely on the task you set before yourself. Keep time management simple and avoid rigidity or complicated schedules.

learning

Yes, it is difficult. It is hard but this is the way to be effective.

It’s easy to set goals but extremely difficult to achieve them if they are goals worth achieving.

So, what are the changes I made in the way I learn?

First of all, I completely stopped to use RSS readers and read every single news!

Currently, I have a News folder in my bookmarks bar with the list of very few news website. I don’t look at them constantly but only sometimes when I don’t have the energy to do more difficult learning. This means that I reduced significantly the passive learning and yes I accepted to be less up-to-date to what is happening.

After I stopped reading news everyday, the feeling was incredible.

You feel like you have a lot of time to learn.

This led to the magic question:

What do you really want to learn?

I decided what to learn and then I started to search materials to help me learn it. Most of the times this means readintodo list learningg articles, books and watching Pluralsight courses.

The important and significant difference is that I selected the content, I actively decided what I wanted to learn.

This is a huge change!

Instead of spending most of the time learning passively I now spend most of the time learning actively.

Are you reading everyday what happens on Twitter?
Are you the kind of person who read tons of news everyday? 
Do you feel anyone knows more then you?
Do you think you don’t learn quickly enough?

OK, now is time for you to stop.

Stop Passive Learning. Do more Active Learning!

Finally, you should never forget that you are learning for yourself.

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. (William Faulkner)

About Andrea Angela

Andrea Angella is a Software Engineer in Red Gate Software. His peers describe him as really enthusiastic, motivated with an infinite passion for software development, a relentless desire to keep learning and an amazing ability to involve others in his pursuit of excellence. He is a proficient C# developer and founder of DotNetToscana: the official community on .NET in Tuscany. Follow Andrea on www.andreaangella.com.

8 thoughts on “Stop Passive Learning. Start Active Learning!

  1. Thanks Andrea for the excellent post! I am going to check out the book you recommend. Also, I want to say that the software RedGate creates is incredible! I use SQL Compare on average a couple of times a month when preparing to move new changes from development to production. Best Regards.

  2. Great post Andrea, I can definitely identify with wanting to read and learn more than I have time to. The Power of Less sounds like an interesting read and I think I will take the time this weekend to read it! Its amazing that by default, we can become a slave to the information we want to consume.

  3. Great post. Thanks. I think i am also in the same position. Spending too much time on reading the latest things and current news rather than focusing on specifics.

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