Want to learn a cool and useful skill? In this article, I’ll share with you 4 main steps for efficiently learning any skill. Let’s check them out!
In 5 months I went from barely knowing how to open photoshop to:
- making art for world famous musicians, artists, and large companies
- being proficient in 3 different industry standard design programs
- having a vast portfolio of work
- increasing my personal network of professionals by 3 fold
All on my own time, at my own pace, while having a full time job, a family, and without any school loans to pay off afterwards. I could have done it in half the time if I worked harder, and so can you.
I went from this…
Even if you are learning a tangible skill, i.e. a musical instrument, glassblowing, carpentry, etc. and won’t be spending most of your time on a computer, such as with music production, coding, or graphic design, these are still valuable steps that will decrease the learning curve.
Here is my list for expedited learning in the creative realms.
Treat your computer the same way you would treat your mind. If it’s cluttered and disorganized then you will have an infinitely harder time recalling/retaining information, and efficiently completely tasks.
Clean up your computer desktop
– No misplaced files, everything goes in a folder with a category name (preferably that has subfolders).
Download these file-sharing and note-taking apps
- Evernote – for taking notes
- Dropbox and Google docs – for file sharing and storing
The reason I chose these apps in particular is because the information is stored in the cloudyou will be able to access it from any device at anytime just by signing into your account)
- Create a “notebook”, title it the name of the skill you are learning, i.e. “Graphic Design”
- Create a new “note” titled “Tips & Tutorials”, this is where you will notate every single tutorial you come across and the cliffnotes for each one. When learning quickly you tend to forget things, rewatching tuts is too time consuming.
Annotate the notes like the following, for what ever skill you’re trying to learn:
- The name of the technique – For example: “Photoshop Grunge Effect”
- The tutorial URL – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja2hfC2MUJ4
- The cliffnote (required steps) – 1. Copy layer. 2. Invert layer. 3. Add filter. (and so on)
In Dropbox / Google Docs:
- Create a folder titled “Graphic Design”
- Create subfolders titled…
– Ideas (anytime you find something online that you want to eventually make, is inspiring, or just cool, save it here)
– Programs (if you are learning a computer based skill, save all of you the programs install files here)
– Portfolio (this is were you save a copy of all your work in this field, i.e. song sessions, logos, templates, etc)
- Make a list of the top 3 people most proficient at this skill.
- Find their work and save it down in the ideas folder (in a subfolder with the artists name).
- Research any interviews, blogs, articles, etc that they have been involved in. This will give you insights into how they learned. Takes notes!
Write down your goals.
Be very specific – each goal should have branches of steps you need to take to accomplish it. The more specific you are in how you will accomplish a task the less time you will waste when performing it.
Learn something new every time you sit down to work.
Go through your ideas folder, find a piece of work you want to emulate, then find a tutorial on that technique (remember to log all of your tutorials and their cliff notes).
Each project has to have a purpose!
When starting a project I make sure that it matches one of these 3 criteria…
- 1. The finished product will be given to someone as a gift. Giving gifts without asking for anything in return is one of the most effective ways to build your network. It shows gratitude, builds immediate trust, and typically has the person asking what they can do for you in return.
- 2. It is for a job. Meaning, something you are getting payed for.
- 3. It is in exchange for something else.
Want someone to build your website but are strapped for cash? Ask yourself if they can benefit from your new skill, then offer them a trade. i.e. I will make custom music for your wives birthday video if you create my logo.
Do not look at your past work.
This tip is especially important for musicians & writers. It can be one of the biggest wasters of your time. When you sit down, don’t allow your self to go through your previous work until you’ve completed something new first.
Break large projects into 1/3rd’s.
If your main goal is to learn the most difficult guitar solo you can think of, start by…
- learning the first 1/3 of it,
- learning the last 1/3,
- and finally the middle 1/3.
Then try playing only 2 of the sections together, change it up, randomize the order, and once you are proficient in every random arrangement, give the entire solo a shot.
#4. CUT THE CORD
“You do and you do… and you make doodoo.”
Learning to finish a project and move on is the most efficient route to progression!
Make yourself accountable
- Set a deadline. You CANNOT work on your project after this deadline
- Set a time for the public display of your work. Tell all your friends that you will be showing/debuting your finished product a a certain time and place.
- Work on projects that already have predetermined deadlines. There are an unlimited amount of remix contests, design competitions, online.
Bottom line is, the higher the stakes, the more pressure you will have to work your hardest.