How to learn effectively (because I haven't been)?

Hey all!

About a year ago, I started FCC. Did it for a couple of weeks and dropped it. Just laziness and lack of discipline, really.

About 3-4 months ago, I really started getting into programming again. I bought books on HTML & CSS, and on HTML 5 (Javascript really). I’ve paid for a few months of Treehouse, but quit after I realized that I wasn’t learning much on there.

My problem now is that I keep getting ‘writers block’ but with code. I study nearly every day, but sometimes there just comes a point where, even for days, my brain is like ‘disgusted’ with a new coding concept. It pretty much hurts my head and it’s not fun.

I’m willing to bear through the pain, because I tend to be great at things once I’ve absorbed enough fundamentals.

But does anyone have any advice for me now, in this stage of ‘beginners anguish’?

I’m gonna start going to FCC meetups in the Bay Area 3x a week. And I’m gonna start to really slowly work my way through the lessons on FCC.

Any input? Thoughts? Advice? Musings?


Check this course out


Everyone learns differently, it’s definitely worth taking the time to suss out what’s best for you and save a heap of time and effort in the long run. Personally, code challenges and using MDN repeatedly really worked for me. I also do plenty of code-along video courses, which are vary. Books, haven’t really worked for me at all. Horses for courses.

Code while you read, play with the code and try a books free code ( do the dame without reading).

I try read books and watch videos but I don’t really find the information sticks, I continue to do so though because I find it helps me recognise and understand new syntax when I come across it.

The number 1 thing for me is doing exercises until I’m sick of doing them and then I find, yeap that info is now completely lodged in my head, goal achieved!
Obviously creating projects of any size is the best thing you can do, I think it’s important to make mistakes, not on purpose, but when you’re scratching your head and you see your mistake, that info will stick. Persistence is key.
Challenge yourself to build something you think is fun, something small , something you know mostly how to build. I found that over time I’ve become a lot better at reading documentation, that’s helps loads. Takes a lot of pressure off not knowing how to do something. Again persistence is key, you don’t stop learning, it just gets easier.

1 Like

Coding is like riding a bike.

You can’t really learn how to ride a bike by watching how to ride a bike videos, reading how to ride a bike books, following how to ride a bike online tutorials, enrolling in bike riding online courses, listening to bike riding blog podcasts. If you want to learn how to code, you must actually be coding.

I think you’ll get more learning done by reading a few pages, then opening your browser’s console, or your codepen editor and trying out what you just read. Type in the code (no copy-pasting!). Change values, change the order, play what if scenarios, introduce intentional mistakes, typos, and see what kind of error messages you get. Google the commands/function names and see what other related functions are there. Try some of them out on your own, on how to use it. See if you can figure it out and be able to write your own line of code.

When done — read the next few pages, then repeat cycle again. It will be real painfully slow at the beginning… but over time you’ll learn much better, and what you learn will stick to your brain.

There should be more hands-on coding time than reading/watching time.

But reading a whole chapter or book, or watching an online video from start to finish without even opening up your code editor and trying to write your own code? That will not be productive at all. By the time you finished the course or the video, you’ll be asking yourself “What did I learn? I still can’t write code of my own.”

Also… DISCIPLINE – A few minutes of reading, and several minutes to half hour or hour of daily coding will be more productive than binge reading/coding that lasts for several hours, every now and then. Your brain will be fried and you won’t absorb everything. Your brain needs time to rest to process what you just learned. Doing marathon 8 hour learning sessions is like cramming – you think you understand and know it, but a few days later… you forget everything.

YMMV – your mileage may vary. If your current learning method doesn’t work, try this.


Also I love this image, it’s so true.


that’s a big desert, i could use some water

1 Like

Get a good code editor if you don’t have one, …the predictive text is great for learning what’s out there, and colors can help a lot too

1 Like

I want to sign up for it. Would you give me more information

It’s a free course. I signed up for it on your suggestion, but then never took even a single class LOL.

Thanks for all the replies, guys.

Try to build something, like a simple webpage, interactive number guessing game or something simple like that. The more you build, the better you’ll understand, and the more fun you’ll have with it. Good luck!

1 Like

I’m building the first project right now: Tribute Page.

The course material has demonstrated some basic CSS and Bootstrap 3 right now, but I’m tempted to try to create the project using native CSS3 (flexbox & grid, etc.) or using Bootstrap 4.

Am I just wasting my time? Should I just do the project like the curriculum suggests?

This is related to my original post, because : I’m wasting time making a trivial decision, and not learning. OR WOULD IT BE BEST TO LEARN, if I program this with BS4 or CSS3?


1 Like

I’m wasting time making a trivial decision, and not learning. OR WOULD IT BE BEST TO LEARN, if I program this with BS4 or CSS3?

Why not do it both ways? You’d learn a lot, and learn/appreciate the pros/cons of each.

1 Like

I’m still early in my learning, but I really enjoyed taking a lot of time with my tribute page and portfolio. I got both projects to meet the parameters in the project prompts, and then I spent a lot of time seeing what else I could do and trying out things I’d seen on other websites and around Codepen. Spending so much time experimenting on both projects made a huge impact on my learning. After I finished those projects, I was able to update some old HTML and CSS at work with ease. And it kept things interesting and fun.

1 Like

Okay, thanks to your guys’s responses, I’m gonna do it both ways. I’ll do Bootstrap 4 and native CSS, to learn better. I will skip Bootstrap 3 though, because 4 takes advantage of a bunch of new fundamental technologies that I want to get used to.

Side note –
My grandfather was a really awesome micro-celebrity, and I’m gonna make the page about him and make it as good as I can. Show it to the rest of the family, and the community where he lived. That would be a great way to turn this little project into something with value, right? And get my name out there, un poquito

1 Like