Study Habits

9/20/17

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. When 3:30am rolled around I made the decision to send an email to work to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in today. So there I was sitting in front of a bright computer screen, feeling very tired, but I knew if I went back to bed I would be staring at the ceiling again.

What’s on my mind? I thought you would never ask.

I’m working on a big school project. This thing is a beast! It’s the final project for the server-side curriculum. I need to build a full CRUD API with JWT authentication and securely store user credentials in MongoDB. It’s consuming all of my time and thoughts. When I go to bed, I’m thinking about code. When I wake up, the first thing I think about is code. Don’t get the wrong idea though. I’m not complaining. It’s just a ton of work and it’s very difficult to prioritize a project that size while also working full time and trying to get daily life stuff done. My apartment is a mess and I have dishes piling up and there are things I’ve been putting off that should get done. I’m assuming if you talk to any other coding bootcamp students they would tell a similar story. I just need to vent sometimes. Really though, I’m enjoying this journey immensely!

Real quick, before moving on, back to 3:30am. What would any developer- of any skillset- do in that position? I opened VS Code and got back to work! I decided to tackle the JWT auth part of my app. Well actually, I have been trying to figure that out for several days but I was close to a breakthrough. I could feel it! As it turns out, I was right. I managed to get my login page to work! I was ssoo excited! That work took me to 7am… and my room was filled with daylight.

Fast forward to 2:22pm. My eyes pop open and my first waking thought is- “whats the next step?” I got out of bed and made some coffee and a snack and here I am back at my computer. I’ll be tackling my user registration page and session today.

But the real motivation for posting today: I want to talk about study habits. My study habits, and things I’ve learned about myself during this journey.

Not comprehensive, and in no particular order because in my opinion they are all equally important; these are four ideas that I try to keep in the forefront:

  • Don’t get ahead of myself.
  • Stay focused.
  • Keep going.
  • Just try it.

Don’t get ahead of myself. I’m a daydreamer. I can stare out of my window into the backyard for hours. Just observing nature and thinking about random things. Often times those random thoughts turn into ideas. Those ideas turn into notepad scrawlings and in-depth research- if I’m not careful. Hours later I realize I have not been productive. That leads me to the next bullet.

Stay focused. Through this coding journey I have become quite good at catching myself right as I start to zone out. Just before I hit the rabbit hole. My focus has improved a lot over the past six to seven months!

Keep going. I run into roadblocks regularly. It’s expected when learning something new. But I think it takes me longer to recover from a roadblock than the average student. I have learned that when I don’t know how to do something, and we’re talking about coding here, I will procrastinate ffooorrreevvvveer. I’ve actually been able to zero in on this study habit and take effort into correcting it. Usually, the procrastination starts the day after, or a couple days after, a major roadblock. Let’s use JWT authentication as an example. For close to a week I have been trying to get it to work. There was a day where I realized that I hadn’t touched a line of code and it was almost 6pm. What had I been doing all day? Nothing! I watched random youtube videos about abandoned ghost towns and Vice videos. It’s weird because I don’t explicitly acknowledge the reason for procrastinating. It turns into an elephant in the room and it takes me facing the reality head on to get back on task. Hence the “keep going” idea. I need to make myself get back to work and try again. I have learned that if I keep going, and I keep researching, and I keep trying, I will eventually figure it out! Which again leads me to the next bullet.

Just try it. I have learned that I can read about a topic and grasp the concepts fairly easily, but then I get stuck when it comes time to actually write some code. “Just try it” has become a mantra. When I get stuck I often say it out loud to myself. I need to remind myself that I’m not going to break anything. Of course, in a live production environment that’s a different story, but I’m just in my local dev environment. I can write some code and refresh the page to see what happens. If nothing happens, or if I get an error, it’s not a big deal. In fact, if I get an error that is probably a learning opportunity. So, just try it has got me through a lot of roadblocks.

As I’ve often done, I’ll leave you with a video. This is a link to a YouTube series about JWT Authentication.

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