When it comes to learning something completely new to you, you obviously need to invest plenty of time into it. Learning how to program is no exception. Acquiring news kills is time-consuming and many of us feel like we simply don’t have that sort of time to spare. So how do people find all this time they need then? I mean, we all have 24 hours to spend each day. Yet, some people seem to achieve more in less time than others. Why is that?
Speaking from experience, in this post I’ll share my favourite tips on how to find time for learning programming and, more importantly, how to use it efficiently. Of course, in addition to coding, these points are perfectly applicable to other hobbies, too.
It’s not always easy, but it’s doable. Always.
My Own Time Concerns About Learning Coding
Let me start with a few words about how I was feeling when I first started to learn how to code.
Initially, I felt like something was telling me that learning how to program would be the best thing that’ll happen to me in a long time. This was purely an intuition of some kind. I felt very strongly motivated, like I really wanted to do this for myself. It all seemed so interesting and fun!
I knew I would probably understand the basics pretty quickly, but I was expecting a slow start nevertheless. After all, I didn’t know much about computer science or even any basic fundamentals of a programming language. And so many people were telling me programming is difficult to learn!
Time-wise, the harsh reality was that I wouldn’t have all the time in the world to invest in coding. I have a full-time job, so that alone wipes out around 50% of my time awake during the week. Furthermore, I didn’t exactly feel like I was just lying around doing nothing during the evenings and weekends, either.
So, concerning time, I was definitely having mixed emotions about the journey I was about to embark upon. On one hand, I felt like it was something I really wanted to do. But on the other hand, I was a bit sceptical about whether I would really find enough time to actually achieve the goals I had set for myself.
So how did I manage to find the time for my new, time-consuming hobby then?
4 Easy Ways of Making the Most of Your Time
You probably agree with me when I say there’s nothing better in the world than a good old list. Therefore, let’s take a look at 4 different concepts I’ve identified for making the most of your time while learning how to code:
- Saving time by defining clear goals
- Creating time through intrinsic motivation
- Managing time with cut-throat prioritisation
- Dedicating time with consistent schedules
Now I’m not a cognitive psychologist or anything, but these 4 ways worked extremely well for me. That’s why I want to share them with you. I hope you’ll find some of them helpful, too!
1. Saving Time by Defining Clear Goals
All in all, one thing productive people have in common is determination. They know exactly what they wish to achieve, so they work towards a clear target and stay focused. But why is this so important for time management? That’s simple: setting yourself some goals helps you manage your time way more efficiently.
When you’re focused, you don’t feel the temptation to wander off from the path you’re following. Think of using the subway, for instance. Without a clear destination, you’d just board a train that seems interesting in some way. Later on, you’d probably get interested in the other subway lines, too, being curious to see where they take you. This would just go on and on, without you really arriving anywhere at the end. Seems like a waste of time to me!
Now, with a clear destination, like a coffee shop in the city center, you know exactly which train to take and where to switch lines. So much better! That mocha will taste pretty sweet when you get there! When you know where you’re going, you don’t waste your precious time on nonsense.
Personally I had a goal on my mind when I first had to find time for learning programming. I was determined to create my own web application. It was an idea I had already pondered over even before I decided coding would become my new favourite hobby. Now, with this clear target, it was easier and much faster to find the right kinds of tools to learn.
Think about what it is you actually want to achieve. Why do you want to learn how to code?
— See also: Why I Started to Teach Myself to Code
— See also: 4 Steps to Get You Started With Coding
2. Creating Time through Intrinsic Motivation
Hold up! Creating time? Sounds whacky, I know! But it’s the best way I can describe what happened to me when I really got interested in coding and started learning more about it.
When we need to get things done, it’s much easier if we actually enjoy doing them, right? This applies to learning, too, of course. Having a genuine interest in something new and enticing makes learning more about it a proper joyride!
Think about some time in the past when you were really interested in a specific topic. Perhaps it was quantum physics, perhaps the newest episode of Game of Thrones or Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Whatever it was, you wanted to look it up right away and couldn’t wait to find out more. This sort of hunger to learn is a great example of intrinsic motivation. It’s a driving force in your head empowering you to adopt new information at a faster pace than you’d expect.
If you’re passionate about learning programming, that passion and motivation will quickly start to drive your determination. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to sit in front of your computer for hours every day to learn how to code. Try the Pomodoro Technique and do it for 30 minutes to start with. Repeat daily.
With a clear goal on your mind, you’ll soon notice that you’re making good progress towards it. When you’re processing what you learn even when you’re not sitting at your computer, those 30 minutes will soon turn into 60 minutes of effective engagement every day. Your head switches to auto-pilot and it feels like you’re creating more time for learning out of thin air!
This kind of motivational drive is probably the single most important reason why I managed to learn Python so quickly. I spent around an hour every day learning actively. But I was processing the topic throughout the day in my mind, engaging on a more or less conscious level. I was talking about learning programming with my colleagues and friends all the time – even when they probably didn’t want to hear it. Sorry!
I was genuinely enjoying what I was doing and that hunger to learn made all the difference!
3. Managing Time with Cut-Throat Prioritisation
This is probably the most obvious way to find time for learning programming or any other new skill. Prioritising isn’t always easy, but it’s the best way to make sure you’re dedicating your scarce time to things that make you happy and give you something back.
If learning how to code is something you really want to do, rethinking your priorities shouldn’t be a problem. As I mentioned before, if you possess the intrinsic motivation to do it, it’ll be easier than you think.
Luckily, I’m not training for the Olympics or anything, so I have some time to spare before or after work during the week and on the weekends. It’s surprising how much “loose time” you can find in just one single day. That’s the time you spend watching TV or feasting on some evil, addictive social media, for example.
I quickly realised I could pinch quite a bit of time from those things that are so easy to start doing but so difficult to stop!
Now I understand that all of us are in different situations in life, of course. If you’re a single parent, you’re probably not as flexible with your schedules as a student at the university. Or perhaps you already have a hobby that takes up most of your time in the evening. The bottom line here is that you don’t need to forget about everything else you’re used to doing in order to find time for learning programming. Just do some conscious thinking. Take a closer look at what’s eating up your time and see if you’re using your days efficiently.
4. Dedicating Time with Consistent Schedules
Once you manage to find the time to learn coding in the first place, create a habit out of it right away! Always try to do it around the same time every day, keeping your schedule consistent and your mind focused.
Making a routine out of your learning sessions quite simply makes it more difficult for you to get distracted. You’re also less likely to not have time every day that way!
If you know you’re going to sit down for learning something new at the same time every day, you’ll also be better prepared for taking in and adopting all that new input and information. Additionally, it’ll be easier for you to maintain your focus throughout that time.
Whatever your goals are once you start learning how to code, finding enough time for your new hobby can be very tricky. Just know that you can do it, even though it might seem more or less hopeless at times. I hope you could find a couple of helpful points here that you can try out yourself.
Here’s a short summary of the points I discussed in the post:
- First off, make sure you know exactly what it is you want to achieve. Having clear goals for yourself helps you start on the right track and maintain your focus along the way.
- Secondly, if you’re doubting whether you’ll have the time in the first place, just start learning and see what happens. If you possess genuine motivation, you will eventually feel like you’re creating time to learn out of thin air.
- Thirdly, in case you’re not quite sure where to pinch the time from, prioritise. You’ll be surprised at how much “loose” time you spend checking your social media or watching TV, for instance.
- And finally, if you’re running a busy schedule like most of us are, do your best to make a habit out of coding. The more it feels like a constant in your life, the less likely you are to spend the time doing other things.
Believe me, you have the time! Now go find it! Then use it wisely!
Please share your thoughts and your favourite time management tips in the comments below! How do you find the time you need for programming or your other favourite hobbies?