Learning on the fly with zero overhead

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    Here I will share some tips on how to learn and maintain expertise with minimum overhead.

    I am a consultant with limited amount of free time. I work in a very dynamic field where technologies change frequently. In order to maintain my expertise, I have to constantly learn and improve in order to keep up with new technologies and trends.

    Over time I adopted some practices and developed habits that help me stay informed and up to date, while keeping overhead to a bare minimum. Let me share them with you.

    Subscribe to relevant online resources

    There are many online resources that can deliver relevant information and news right in your hands. These include newsletters, LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, Twitter and online forums.

    All you have to do is to find the ones useful for you and subscribe. Once you do it, the information will start coming to you, instead of you searching for it.

    I would recommend you to change the notification settings to avoid filling up your mail box. Getting a digest e-mail once a week is often enough and most of the platforms have such options.

    Take advantage of online courses

    There are several MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platforms where you can find courses for many topics. This is especially valid for IT topics. Here are some popular MOOC platforms, but there are many more:

    You can find more extensive list in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MOOCs).

    Many of these platforms provide you free access to the courses if you don’t need a certificate. They also offer a mobile app that allows you to download courses on your phone for viewing them offline.

    This is a perfect combination because you have a wide choice of courses that you can watch literally everywhere you want.

    You can watch or listen to the lessons until you are travelling to work, shopping or relaxing on the beach. This won’t make you an expert on the topics, but will provide you good overview.

    In case you decide to master particular topic, you can invest additional time in doing the exercises and work on the course projects. Everything depends on your needs and interests.

    Join community events

    Another goof opportunity to learn interesting things and meet new people with similar interests are the community events. By joining the user groups and meetups in your area you will receive regularly invitation for the events they organize.

    Depending on your schedule and the topics that will be presented, you can choose to join the events that best fits in your agenda. Such events are giving you opportunity to meet also others like minded people and expand your professional network, because after the presentations, there is usually time for networking when people are talking to each other while having a drink together.

    If you are looking for events, you can do a quick search in Google or check on the Meetup platform (https://www.meetup.com/) which is widely used by event organizers.

    Participate in conferences and boot camps

    Conferences provide you opportunity to visit many presentations and workshops on particular topic for short amount of time (often 1-2 days). They provide you synthetized and refined information.

    Technology boot camps are another very good opportunity to learn and master new topics, because they provide you focused and intensive training on particular technology. At the end of the boot camp you will usually have the basic skills for using the technology and enough knowledge to move on your own.

    Share information with others

    One of the best ways to constantly learn and improve is exchanging information with others on a daily basis. By sharing ideas with colleagues during the coffee break or exchanging few tips while solving a problem at the office you can learn a lot from your colleagues and they can learn from you. This is done naturally and without almost any additional effort.

    The best results will come by combining all the above methods and using them based on your needs and schedule.