Public Learning

project-centric learning for becoming a software engineer

Taking the gloves off

I'm going to spend my next three months primarily on this desk Starting the new year (or decade, even) with my personal Capstone experience feels like doing the right thing at exactly the right time. I’ve left behind all thoughts about my bygone career and have also completed my almost two-year-long foundational Launch School education (well, almost, more about that later).

I have also enjoyed the luxury of a good head start, digging into the basics of Node.js and Express in December as a means of gaining some required backend knowledge. This is where I’m continuing as of today and what will constitute much of my first week.
But first I tried to find an organizational approach that can help me in staying on track and not lose sight of the bigger picture. My first action is to write myself a small list of items I want to dedicate time to each day. So I took ten minutes off yesterday’s evening and scribbled down seven bullet points of things I’d like to do today (writing this blog post being one of them). Once I finish up today’s work, I’m going to review how much of that I achieved and do a similar plan for tomorrow.
The main benefit of those todo lists is in keeping a clear focus. I have to admit that I can be easily distracted at times by some topic I stumble upon that leads me down a rabbit hole or two. Then, five hours later, I realize that I have just spent half a day learning about something like the HTML canvas element and how to achieve a 60 fps main loop for animations. Cool thing, for sure, but not the best way to spend my rather limited time.

And time will be of the essence. Right now, March and April feel like they’re a distant future, but I have a nagging feeling that the weeks will just fly by, especially once I’m knee-deep in learning about half a dozen new-to-me technologies. Making sure that each of those days and weeks will be spent as effectively as posible is therefore one of the priorities. I will see if todo lists alone will be a sufficient tool to aid me with that.

Much like I did in December of last year, I’m going to do one extensive writeup per week, where I reflect on what I have achieved during that period and how my approach has fared. But my plan is also to occasionally pick a technical topic to write about, something where I can test my understanding by trying to explain it. This something I have found to be a most effective way of testing my knowledge. An incomplete mental model will always reveal itself when trying to explain it in detail.

I’ll leave it at that for now and will go back to the next chapter of Express in Action (something about walking the walk and not just talking the talk, if you catch my drift).