Learn Smarterer with our Free Learning Planner

Everyone wants to learn something new. It’s hard! We’ve previously touched on the resources, online and offline, that might help you pick up and improve your skills. We’ve also covered ways to direct your own learning efforts, ways to figure out what you’re good at, and ways to certify what you’ve learned. We’ve even given you some awesome tips we picked up from our own dear users.

But there’s one aspect of the learning process we haven’t covered: how to follow through. So we concocted a helpful little learning planner for you. (See bottom)

While the concept of micro-learning is just gaining traction, and might be difficult to mimic on your own, you can apply the same principles to your own learning efforts. Just like you would in a traditional learning environment, scheduling “chunks” of time to dedicate regularly and systematically to each new step will keep you on track. In the same way a teacher might articulate a learning progression, rotating your methods of learning will allow you to focus your efforts more accurately at your goals. We broke down the learning process into four basic steps:

  • First, decide what you want to be able to do. Having a concrete ability in mind will direct your learning in a firm direction. Then set an end date. This will keep some pressure on you to keep going, so your goal doesn’t just fall by the wayside.Start off by acquiring new knowledge, with a unit of instruction. The first step to learning something, of course, is finding a teacher. Set an amount of time to dedicate to it. This could be anything from a YouTube tutorial or a Codecademy set to an ebook or a talk by a local expert (or, as Boston folks would call it, an Intelligent.ly class).
  • Next, pay attention to the things that interested you in your lecture or reading. Ask a question that you genuinely can’t answer with that resource, and search out another place where you can research the solution. You’ll find out more about your subject, of course, as well as gaining a broader view of the area. This will come in handy later.
  • The next step is to apply what you’ve learned. Take on a concrete and defined but doable project. Build a circuit to test your electrical engineering or tweak a WordPress theme to flex your CSS muscle. Get some low-risk, hands-on experience that will allow you to make what John Caddell calls “smart mistakes”.
  • Next, test yourself! This could be a Smarterer test, a flash-card quiz from a friend, or anything else. Testing is important not only because it’ll reinforce what you’ve learned, but also because you need to benchmark yourself in order to understand where you need to improve.

Finally, repeat! If you’ve followed each step, you’ll logically arrive back at square one, hungry for more knowledge. This time around, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to know, more places to find that information, a more ambitious project to tackle, and a test to prove that it’s working.

By the time you achieve the goal at the top, hopefully you’ll be so into the rhythm that you won’t even want to stop. Or, of course, you could learn something else. If Smarterer users can write 600+ skills tests, then I’m sure there’s something left for everyone to learn.

Click the thumbnail for a full-scale printable .pdf!