When it comes to learning new technical skills for work, finding the time to make progress on your learning can be tough. Whether it’s making space in a busy schedule, or finding ways to stay motivated, we know how challenging it can be to make learning a regular activity.
To help you make learning a habit, we’ve put together some tips — including ones that our Skillacademy for Teams learners and community members have shared with us — for staying motivated while learning to code.
Tip #1: Set weekly and long-term goals
Having goals that you can work towards can be a great motivator for creating a consistent learning routine. Telling others on your team what you plan to accomplish, and how you’re progressing toward your goals, can help you stay on track.
In your Skillacademy account under “My Home,” you can set long-term goals and weekly learning targets for yourself. Decide how many days you want to learn each week, and track your progress in the top right corner of the screen. You’ll be able to see how many days you’ve logged into Skillacademy for the current week, and how many weeks in a row you’ve met your target.
Looking for a little extra accountability? Share your targets with your coworkers or your friends on social media!
It can also help to set small achievable goals to make the learning process feel a little less daunting. Some ideas include “I’m going to complete the first module of a Skill Path” or “I’m going to build a small applet that’s useful for myself, my friends, or my family.” Here are some more examples of bite-sized goals that you can set for yourself to take those first few steps back into coding.
Tip #2: Schedule time in your calendar for upskilling
Blocking out time each week on your calendar can help make upskilling and personal development a priority. This ensures that learning becomes a regular part of your schedule, rather than a task that you only get to when you have the time.
And it can help to talk with your manager or team lead about when you can set aside time for uninterrupted learning. During these blocks of time, make sure to minimize distractions by pausing any email, phone, or Slack notifications.
Tip #3: Make learning to code a team activity
One of the best ways to stay motivated is learning with others. Whether your team members are working on the same courses or courses specific to their role, they can help provide support and motivation on your learning journey.
At Motley Fool, employees learning Python together held weekly meetings to go through assigned lessons, discuss projects, and share tips on how they worked through a problem. The meetings also helped set a pace for learning the material. Gary T, a Senior BI Analyst at Motley Fool, tells us:
“The nice thing about doing it in a group is there’s some accountability. You don’t want to let the group down. You don’t want to show up being the guy that doesn’t know what’s going on or didn’t finish that day. The group was a strong motivator.”
Learning with others at work can be a great way to keep yourself accountable to your goals and to make your learning journey more enjoyable.
Tip #4: Remind yourself why you started learning to code
Remembering why you started can help you find the strength and motivation to keep going. In fact, there are a lot of professional benefits to learning to code, including having better conversations with developers, getting an opportunity to work on bigger projects, and setting yourself up for learning new tools in the future.
Knowing what you’ll eventually be able to do, and being able to see your progress, can serve as a positive reminder to keep going. Calli, a product manager at Paradox, learned to code so that she could better understand the technical aspects of what her product team works on. She explains how it has helped her and her fellow PMs advance in their careers:
“We’re getting the opportunity to work on more strategic initiatives that involve looking at our database, looking at the data we have, and thinking about how we can potentially restructure it. I don’t know that leadership would give us that opportunity if we didn’t have a basic understanding of how the product works, what’s possible, and what’s not possible. We’re getting more opportunities, bigger opportunities as product people.”
Tip #5: Embrace the learning process
Learning new technical skills can require you to think in new ways, which isn’t always easy. It’s important to give yourself time to practice challenging concepts, and to be realistic about what’s achievable in a given amount of time.
And if you’re ever feeling stuck or frustrated, take a break or shift your focus to something completely different. Returning to a coding problem later on can allow you to spot a solution that you may not have noticed before.
In a Skillacademy forums discussion on how to stay motivated, Dwayne D. says, “Just stick with it. In no time at all, if you keep trying it just kinda clicks and things get easy from that point on.”
It’s also important to enjoy the learning process — whether it’s taking time to celebrate your wins, reflecting on how far you’ve come, or sharing with others the things you’re proud of accomplishing. Paulina D. offers this advice: “I think it’s important to find those bits of joy, make it more playful for you so that the journey (whether short or long) is enjoyable.”
If you’re feeling like it’s hard to find time for learning, we hope these tips will help you create opportunities to continue on your learning journey. What are your strategies for making time to learn to code for work? Let us know in the comments!