When I started my code journey to becoming a developer, one thing that really stood out to me was how many different types of technologies I needed to learn. At first, I started with a simple list: HTML and CSS. Coming from a background in journalism, it was an adjustment to wrap my mind around coding and all the challenges that come with it. Once I successfully built my first webpage, however, I was so excited.
Does this sound familiar?
There’s only so much information a single person can consume at one time. In a fast-moving industry like technology, it can feel nearly impossible to keep up with the pace. This constant “speed learning” can be hard for new developers and those who are experimenting with cutting-edge technologies in an effort to get more results in less time.
This can lead to Information Overload (IO), or the feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious when encountering large amounts of information. IO can hurt your self-esteem and productivity, but it doesn’t have to be all consuming. In fact, there are ways to manage and prevent IO completely.
Here are some solutions that have helped me with IO.
Ways to combat IO
Try to stick to one technology, then move on only when you are comfortable with what you’re learning. Cramming a lot of information at once can do more harm than good. For example, you can confuse yourself and make coding mistakes. You may also burn out from the speed and amount of information being received. Focusing on one technology at a time can prevent these negative side effects and help you become more productive.
Keeping up to date is expected in the tech field, but you don’t have to be an expert in everything. Pick a particular set of languages in which you aim to be proficient. This will help you narrow down what’s most useful to you and your interests, as well as cancel out all of the irrelevant background noise. If you need help selecting which programming languages to learn, here are some resources:
Also, take breaks in between learning and coding. This is especially important if you’re having a hard time grasping new information and are getting frustrated at the process. At some point, every developer has the experience of being stuck when all you want to do is fix the problem and move to the next item on the list. However, continuously working for hours and hours without a break doesn’t help anyone become a better coder, and it will only leave you in cloud of anxiety, exhausted and producing less than desired results. Even taking a short 15 minute break once an hour can make a huge difference in your ability to absorb information and efficiently apply what you are learning to your code or project.
One last tip, learn at your own pace. The drive to learn as much as information as possible can be tempting, but keep in mind that everyone consumes and processes information differently. Knowing the method that works best for you will allow you to reap benefits in the long run.
The Interactive Mechanics Fellowship Program aims to build capacity for representation and inclusion in the technology field. We see it as a mutual learning experience for the fellows and for our existing team, so we’ve asked our fellows to share some of their expertise on our blog.