How to Learn New Technology More Efficiently

By Chelsea Babin

After being inundated with friends, family, and the internet’s opinion that the start of a new year should mean a new you, you’ve finally given in. Besides, you were hoping to learn some new technologies to stay up to date with the latest industry trends in 2015 anyways, so now is as good of a time to start as any. But how to begin?

Whether you choose to take a free online coding class (sometimes referred to as MOOCs), enroll in a college level course, watch a few step-by-step videos on Youtube, attend a developer’s conference or go old school and pick up a book, learning new technology is a great pursuit that will undoubtedly improve your career. That is, if you keep up with it.

Like all great New Year’s resolutions it can be difficult to stick with learning once you’ve started. If you’re rushing into a new coding language and hoping to build a complex database before you’ve grasped the fundamentals, you’ll have a hard time and may eventually quit. Instead, follow the advice of one our greatest modern minds, Elon Musk.

Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, says that instead of giving up, you should approach knowledge as if it were a tree. In a recent Reddit AMA he shared his method for learning dense material in short periods of time, “one bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as a sort of semantic tree—make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

It’s nice to picture yourself mastering the complex details of MySQL or Twitter Bootstrap in a weekend, but if you go about it wrong it could take you months or years to fully grasp. Instead of diving into the deep end, learn how to swim. Identify what the foundation of each programming language is and learn the fundamentals before moving on to the smaller, more complicated aspects. This will help you cut down on the time it takes you to learn a new technology and, ultimately, it will help you propel your IT career forward for years to come.