This is a story of how I struggled to learn when I came back to school to study again for my master's (check my blog about master's) after 5-years of working in corporate. Through others, I learned a lot and improved my day-to-day life. It was a great transformation.

Struggle # 1 - Studying

I understand the concept, but it's not sticking in my head.

I listened to lectures, videos, and textbooks. What did I get? Nothing and sometimes boring.

I had to think of something to retrain my brain.

Tip 1: Writing / Typing increase knowledge retention by 50%.
I used to do this a lot during high school and college. I think most people know about this. But it is still a good reminder.

Tip 2: Blog about it. This would improve your communication skills in conveying your ideas.

You might say: But wait, I'm not a writer and my grammar is bad. =(
I am not good at writing either. I remember my high school and college days, I would have someone proofread my papers and my paper would be drenched in red ink. Ouch!

You might say: Someone already blogged about insert topic.
I always believe each person's perspective is different. Also, this blogging is really for yourself. Don't mind them.

You might say: I'm shy.
Well. Another piece of advice is just to place it in draft purgatory. I have like 72 drafts consisting of ideas or notes.

You might ask: What do I blog?
I found an interesting blogger before who blogs about complex technical stuff and a very simple blog post about MacBook's HDMI port. The HDMI port blog post? It was only an image and a few sentences.

It could be:

  • text with pictures and an experience. Example here.
  • text with memes and your journey. Example here.
  • guides or instructions. Example here.
  • power point style. Example here.
  • purely visual. Example here.

It doesn't have to be perfect and you'll improve in no time.

You might ask: What's your secret?
Be curious. Aside from that, I have tons of stories and I just keep blogging. I didn't use my weakness in grammar/writing as an excuse to not try blogging. I use Grammarly to fix my sentences.

You might ask: Where to blog?
Right now an easy blog site where you can write stuff down and have a clear blog post like this is in Medium, a blogging site. I used to blog there until they graciously accepted me here, freeCodeCamp News, as an author here.

Tip 3: Learn something. Teach it right away.

You might say: I'm no expert.
Thing is. You learned something and that makes you more than a beginner. You can say... You're now an experienced beginner.

How can an experienced beginner help?
Easy. Help other beginners.

It can be through:

  • Explaining high-level concepts.
  • Pointing them in the right direction on what resources to check out.

Tip 4: Read... Zzz.
I'm a guy who does not like to read so much. I just remembered reading Harry Potter or Penguin Classics.

Now listen closely, this would rewire your brain to read again.
First, a scenario. You are given a book and It's a thousand pages thick.

Your goal: read the entire book.
In your mind: What now? A thousand pages?!
What you will happen: you will try to read as much as you can then you get sick of reading it.

Enter rewiring your brain.

Change your goal: read a chapter a day.
You might say: It's too long and I might not be consistent with reading a chapter.

Change your goal: read a paragraph a day.
You might say: There might be a chance that there are too many sentences. I don't think I can stay consistent.

Change your goal: read a sentence a day.
You might say: Uh. Sure? That's all? I can do that.
Haha, you fell into my trap. This is a Jedi Mind Trick. Your brain would be tricked into reading the next sentence.

Lesson: Keep your goals as small as possible. This preserves your energy to study and decrease the likelihood of mental stress.

Tip 5: Speak up! Do presentations.

If you got guts, create small talks for your friends and classmates.

Here's a video of my presentation in a conference:

I had tons of opportunities to practice presenting with different tech terms at the technology club at my school, City University of Seattle.

Tip 6: Reading while on commute.
You might say: I get motion sickness.
Two options:

Option 1 - Jedi Mind Trick. Read for 5 minutes. Then slowly increase the read time as you get comfortable.

Option 2 - Bring other materials. Study base on energy levels.
Status - Energetic: Read a physical book or ebook. Use a laptop/tablet.
Status - Somewhat tired from screen display: Watch an educational video .
Status - Very tired from screen display: Read a physical book.
Status - Dead eyes: Listen to a podcast.
Status - No energy: Sleep.

Tip 7: Go to local meetups.
Learn the next exciting thing and get to the change to network with like-minded people.


Bonus: You might get a mentor along the way.
Mentors have helped me big time in giving me a path to follow.
Mentors do come in all shapes and sizes. They could be with you for a short-term or long-term, and physically or virtually.

Tip 7: Join or create a study group.
You are hitting two birds in one stone. You socialize and learn at the same time.

Struggle # 2 - Too Much Distraction.


I'm so guilty of social media. I keep scrolling and scrolling. News Feed. Memes. Videos.

One time, I was with my local study group. I told my friend that I struggle with social media addiction. I got the greatest advice ever.

Tip # 1 Clean your social media to defeat your endless scrolling.


Who to lose:

  • Unfriend everyone who you don't know.
  • Schoolmate? Batchmate? If you just like their posts and don't interact such as commenting, unfollow them. You'll just envy their beach photos.
  • Nonsense post? Unfollow.
  • Too much negativity? Unfollow.
  • Too much drama? Unfollow.
  • Pages with no value-added content. Unfollow.

Who to keep:

  • Current classmates
  • Mentors
  • Close friends
  • Family and relatives

Who to add/follow:

  • Inspirational people
  • Educational and informative bloggers
  • Pages that promote awareness
  • Pages that give tips and tricks related to your field.

What do you gain:

  • More time. Right now, I wake up, check my social media and I would have less than 10 notifications.
  • More quality. I tend to have more energy to interact with them now.

Tip # 2 Let's bring in some fun.
For my downtime, I watch films related to technology. Also, I still use my social media for fun such as NBA, Legend of Zelda or other video games.

Next, I started to follow a lot of funny pages that are related to my field, technology. I have tons of these in my Instagram feeds. lol.

This way I'm having fun and learning at the same time.

How?

If I didn't understand the meme/joke, It means I lack the knowledge and would happily google for it to understand.

I current possess 90+ tech memes in my local machine. Whoops!

https://github.com/clarkngo

Conclusion

Try to integrate small tidbits of learning in your day-to-day life.

Jedi Mind Trick your brain.

And... This feels like a good stopping point. Feel free to reach out to me to ask more of my study hacks. =)

Reach out here:

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Till next time!