Choosing to Learn

As you grow up you are surrounded by education, you go to school, join clubs, maybe go to college or university. Then you start a job, learn a new process and perhaps attend training courses. All the time you are being provided with the chance to learn new skills, but one day this stops, you’ve probably been in your job for a few years, you know the ropes and each day you perform actions without having to question why. After a few more years you realise that you haven’t learnt anything new in a long time, maybe you badger your manager to send you on some training or maybe you start to prioritise learning. 

Have you ever wondered how some people fit it all in? They seem to find time to go to work, look after the kids, exercise and still have time to read all those books which you have on your reading list. I used to wonder if they had somehow worked out how to create 5 more hours in every day, or maybe they just never slept but whilst both of those might be true it is far more likely that they are just prioritising these things higher than you do. No one can do everything in life, maybe you are the sort of person who cooks meals from scratch each night, or has a family to look after, for every 1 of you there are 10 people out there who wish they could cook but who are prioritising something else. Life is simply a juggling game. 

So what do you do? You could prioritise learning, on the extreme scale maybe you could give up your job and return to full-time education? Or maybe on a more practical level maybe you could spend a hour or two a week actively learning? If you travel by train you could be reading or listening to a book, if you work out at the gym you could be listening to a podcast, if you’re walking the dog you could be thinking through how that recent bug escaped your testing. Still too much commitment? Then learn to be more aware of the decisions you are making, why did you press that button first? How are you going to present that data? Becoming aware of your decisions lets you develop your thought processes and over time you’ll start to identify weak areas or mistakes that you could have avoided. 

Each week I consciously note down what I have learnt, sometimes it might be an amazing fact about another country, hopefully it’ll be something about how I could have been a better person or a better tester,  on a really gret week I might get through some of the Code Academy training courses or read a new book. The point is to make sure you have learnt something new by the end of the week, if you really want to learn then you need to prioritise it into your life. 



  1. My grandpa was a vicar, when visiting other vicars around England he said he could always tell to within 2 years what year his host had graduated from Bible college. He simply looked at their bookshelves. Amongst even such a scholarly group, most hadn’t bought any new books since leaving school.

    These days my grandpa is retired, but still to to be found in his study or garden devouring tome after tome with zeal. He has an incredible memory.

    I don’t. I’ve grown up with the internet and my attention span is horribly short. I share my grandpa’s desire to learn, but not his capacity for remembering things. My excuse is the barrage of things constantly clawing at my attention all day. If i want to remember something I need to write it down, and doing that on the web means using a tool – i’ve recently started with Evernote, and it’s been useful in stopping my ideas floating away as soon as I switched tabs. A friend uses instapaper for the same task.

    Not everyone is a lifelong learner, but it has suited my grandpa well, and I look forward to following his bookish footsteps through my own electronic method for the rest of my days.

    A small anecdote for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts .


    1. Thanks Luke, that’s a lovely reminder of how difficult it can be to remember things. I know I certainly find it harder these days, hopefully just because I’m not regularly learnings facts like I used to be.

      You made me think of the biases we face when approaching problems, and in particular the Google Bias (not remembering things that we know we can find on Google). I’m hoping I can overcome it!

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