Technical professionals face the challenge of always evolving and growing their skill set more than most other professionals. If you want to stay competitive and keep up with the rapidly evolving world of technology, you need to be able to learn new tech skills quickly and effectively. Use these 8 tips to do just that!
1. Break Skills Into Microbehaviors: If you want a new skill to become as automatic of a behavior as brushing your teeth, you need to take the concept and break it into microbehaviors. These are small chunks that are easier to practice because they take less time for your brain to model that behavior and turn it into a habit. Effective learning without breaking skills down into microbehaviors is hard to come by, especially if you want to do it quickly.
2. Learn What You’re Passionate About: If you want to really engage with a skill and make sure you retain it, it needs to be something relevant to your job or your future career path and needs to overlap with what you’re passionate about. Otherwise it will be difficult to focus during the learning process, which will lead to less retention over time.
3. Put MOOCs to Good Use: Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, can be found in a wide variety of places and are often free or relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional College courses. If you’re looking to learn but you don’t have a lot of money to invest in the growth of your tech skills, these are a great option! And, if you want to learn from a MOOC more effectively, enlist your coworkers or members of your professional network to enroll in the same one you are so you have an accountability partner that will help you stick to the MOOC and learn as much from it as possible.
4. Shadow a Mentor: If you have a chance to observe a mentor in a real setting and learn directly from watching them perform tasks, you should take advantage of it! While this kind of learning is informal, it’s incredibly functional and a great way to introduce yourself to a new process or concept. Then, you can take that in person learning a step further in a class or other form of practical learning and you’ll retain what you need to a lot faster than you otherwise would.
5. Attend Conferences and User Groups: If you’re pursuing trendy technical knowledge or want to deepen your knowledge of an existing skill, attending conferences and user groups is a great options. These outlets will help you stay current, keep your skills sharp, and meet other technologists who are as eager to learn and grow as you are.
6. Apply New Skills Quickly: Practicing what you learn is essential if you want to turn each skill into muscle memory and truly retain it. Understanding a concept isn’t the same as applying a skill so find a way to quickly apply the new skills you acquire if you want them to be truly effective and make a positive impact on your career.
7. Consider Side Projects: While it’s not always easy to find the time for side projects, it is easy to find their benefit. Side projects can give you practical experience with new skills that you aren’t ready to try out in the workplace or don’t have the opportunity to use at your current job. While extremely successful side projects can evolve into side hustles, side projects are inherently valuable as a tool for learning new tech skills quickly and effectively.
8. Keep Your Training Methods Flexible: From videos to books, from meet ups to MOOCs, the key to successful learning is to be willing to stay flexible. Your training methods shouldn’t be repetitive and, in fact, the most effective learning combines different training methods. If you want to learn new tech skills, don’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, find the combination of activities that works best for you and always keep your training methods flexible.
As a technical professional, learning new tech skills is the name of the game! If you want to stay sharp with your existing skills and learn new ones quickly and effectively, use these 8 tips ASAP.