3 Tips to Learn any New Skill Faster
How to get started with new skills quickly
[Note: This is a free excerpt from my ebook Learn & Earn]
Get a Taste of the Skill
Before having a new food at lunch, wouldn't it be better to taste it a little bit before ordering it? Similarly, if you decide to learn a new skill, it's important to get a taste of it before investing significant time and effort into learning it.
The best way to get a taste of a new skill is by making a small, beginner-friendly project using that skill. Doing this will tell you if the new skill is a right fit for you or if it doesn't sync with your nature.
Luckily, for many skills, such project-based getting started tutorials are easy to find on the Internet. So instead of jumping head-on into a full-fledged course on the skill, try to find a tutorial or a short course that can give you a deliverable output using that skill within a week.
In the first two weeks of learning a new skill, your goal should not be to become a professional; your goal should be to get the feel of that skill. We often think that a skill is interesting, but as soon as we dip our toes in the water, we realize it's not for us.
Using Social Media Effectively
Once you've picked a skill, you must keep practicing it and learn more about it. The Internet is the world's biggest book ever written - it's full of knowledge, and most of it is freely accessible.
Start following people who are already good at the skill you are learning, and follow people on a similar journey to yours. Doing this alone will improve your social media experience by ten times.
The regular feed items related to your skill will keep you motivated and interested in the craft. And the experts sharing their experienced insights related to the skill is worth more than reading ten books on the subject. If you make your social media an echo chamber for your craft like this, it won't be a source of distraction anymore. Instead, it'll become a tool that encourages you to engage more with your skill.
Follow your Curiosity, not the Manual
Here's how to NOT read a book: cover to cover. The best way to read a book is to look at the index and start by reading the chapters that interest you. Unfortunately, what commonly happens is people try to read from beginning to end, and if some chapters don't fit their interest, they put down the book, missing out on the good parts.
Something very similar happens in the case of learning new skills too. You need not go through the parts of the skill that you find boring. You can jump directly to the parts that interest you. For example, C++ was one of the subjects in my school. But I didn't learn it from books. Instead, I learned C++ by building small, insignificant projects in it. I didn't top my class in that subject. But my curiosity never died in programming, and today I can say I am a professional programmer and can program proficiently in many languages. If I had followed the books, such interest might not have developed.
Here's what Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to his son when he came to know his son developed an interest in Piano:
"Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don't notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal."
Use this kind of practical-first approach to learning a new skill. Instead of reading the theory of the subject, start with the implementation. The first implementations will be tiny, useless, and filled with mistakes. Use the theory as supplementary materials to improve upon these implementations. Your primary source of learning should be the implementations, not the theoretical material.
If you are picking up a new skill, these three tips will help you get started with it quickly. I share seven more tips in my ebook Learn & Earn to gain intermediate and mastery levels in your skills faster.