Learning technical skills by doing a project

Learning technical skills can be challenging, and often times intimidating. This can leave us feeling frustrated or inadequate. I’d like to share a technique  that may help anyone trying to master technical skills.

I’ve found the most effective way for me to learn is by actually doing a project that I am interested in. Let’s say I want to brush up on my Microsoft Excel and become really good at it. I don’t immediately search for excel tutorials and start from the beginning. I instead think about something I love. Then I think about how I can use excel to make it better or easier. Then once I have a goal in mind, I’ll search to learn the excel functions to accomplish my task. This may require me to watch excel tutorials or do some reading, to accomplish my goal. But now my main goal is to do the thing I love, and excel becomes a by product.

I love personal finance so I decided to use excel to track my finances, and use a plethora of functions to make it easy to use for myself. This has worked out great and i’ve put it in google docs and I use it with my wife to track our family expenses.

Another example is I’ve worked as a developer for a number of years and I wanted to practice building a complete site in Drupal, so the best way for me to practice was by building a site. JustRSVP.me

There is a saying “where there is a will, there is a way”. When you learn by having a project or something tangible in mind, you are providing yourself extra motivation and you are combining learning with something you love.

Let’s say you want to learn to type with all 10 fingers. This is a great goal and will save a lot of time, but to sweeten the pie do something else you always wanted to do. Let’s say you always wanted to write a book, or memorize scriptures. Then while doing your typing lessons, daily commit to writing your book or typing your scriptures. Then you immediately see a benefit for your learning while introducing satisfaction by doing something you always wanted to do.

If you haven’t done this yet, give it a try.

I’m eager to know what you think, leave me a comment. 🙂


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