As a full-time freelancer, one of the main challenges I’ve encountered while teaching myself code is finding the time to fit it into my already hectic schedule. Even though I love programming, it can be tough to juggle learning a new skill with my work, family, and other hobbies.
So when I started to struggle, I turned to my trusty friend — Google. Luckily, after researching lots of different strategies on how to manage my time, I’ve found a better balance between all of the commitments in my life. Today, I want to share the best tips and tricks for time management because, if you’re like me, it’s not always easy finding time to code.
1. Analyze Your Time
If you spend a week recording exactly what you get up to, you’ll probably find a few time wasters in there. We all need time to relax, but tracking your time might help you identify an hour or 2 of aimless Internet surfing (we’ve all been down that rabbit hole) that you could skip in order to study. When I tried this exercise, I found I was watching a lot more TV than I realized, so skipping a few episodes was an easy way to free up more time to learn.
2. Plan Your Day
Once you’ve analyzed your time, start making use of the extra slots you’ve found. It can sometimes be hard to find big blocks of time, but it’s amazing how much you can get done in an hour, or even 30 minutes. Try incorporating these learning blocks in your calendar, make it a priority to stick to them, and watch your skills grow.
3. Cut the Distractions
Studying at home? With potential distractions everywhere, it can be hard to block out everything going on around you, both in the real and virtual worlds.
To make the most of your study time, especially short blocks, turn down your phone volume and turn off any email and social media notifications. I also often restrict access to social media and email using sites such as SelfControl to prevent me being accidentally sucked in!
3. Take a Break
Taking regular breaks is one of the most effective things you can do to aid your learning. While there are hundreds of ways to structure your schedule, the best way to find what works for you is to experiment. I tend to take 10 minutes off every hour, but if there’s a long session of studying ahead, I’ll change that to a half hour break every few hours.
Whatever frequency you find works for you, make sure to take them on time and remember to factor them into the time you allot (tip: set a timer so you don’t accidentally skip them).
5. Speak to Your Boss
If you work in an office, it might be worth discussing your learning goals with your manager. Companies are often keen to develop the skills of their employees, especially if they’re relevant to the business in some way. Some employers cover the cost of your learning, while others might flex on your work schedule (longer lunch breaks every once in a while) so you can catch up with some coding practice.
6. Maximize Your Commute
Take any time spent on public transportation (like that commute to work), and use it wisely. This is great spare time to do some reading, research a question you’re stuck on, or catch up with some industry news. Spend that time driving? Make the most of your trip with a tech podcast — perfect for staying up to date with news, tips, and advice while on the move.
Finding the time to teach yourself something new is never easy, especially when you’re trying to balance learning with everything else in your schedule. But once you figure out the best way to organize your time and make learning a priority, you’ll be amazed at how far you can go. Got your own time management tips and tricks? Let us know how you learn in the comments section below!