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Answering Listener Questions - Clyde Asks About Learning to Code while on the Road

Published 4/20/2015

In today's episode, Clyde asks about learning to code while on the road. If you've ever tried to focus in a new environment, or if you are learning to code while changing locations, this episode is for you!

Today's episode is sponsored by Intuit. Check out http://intuit.me/DevTea to get started developing for millions of businesses, for free, today!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I am taking a question from a listener. Thank you for listening to this show today by the way I really appreciate each and every one of you who listen to the show and if you have questions for me please send them to me Clyde who sent in the question that I'm answering today was kind enough to send in some audio. He sent that to Developer Teaa gmail.com so if you have a question and you have the time to record it you can send it to Developer Teaa gmail.com and I'll try to get to it on the show. Here's a question from Clyde. Hello Jonathan. Thank you for the great podcast. It's very insightful and sweetly short. I'm Clyde a biologist and frequent traveler and I'm learning web development. I have a quick question for you. Do you have any advice on good ways to practice coding while on the road? Your environment always seemed to distract my attention. I look forward to hearing from you. I'm so excited Clyde decided to send in his question because this is such a cool topic. It's very very specific and I think it's going to help a lot of people who are looking to figure out how to code while they are on the road. There's some kind of title for something in there probably a startup. Somebody go ahead and steal that idea coding on the road. I don't know. Probably not. But Clyde's question nonetheless is a fantastic question because a lot of things can be discussed about this question. Number one, Clyde is saying that he gets distracted in new environments and this is this is a very common problem amongst people who are trying to learn something new. And there's actually some really interesting science as to why this is the case. Why we can't focus as well when we are in a new situation, somewhere that we've never been specifically when we are on the road, like Clyde is on the road very often. So why is this? Well the science basically says that our brains are really good at adapting and becoming efficient at things that we do over and over. And this is what we call muscle memory. And it's also how we can learn really complex things like driving or how to type on a keyboard without having to relearn them every single day. Our brain stores this information and then takes shortcuts. We use symbols to help us understand things. So when we see, for example, our car, we don't have to look at every single little piece of that car to know that it is a car and that it drives on the road. We have an understanding a pointer, if you will, in our brain to tell us that that is a car. And it's not just limited to objects or procedures. It's also the way that our brain understands our environment. This is why you can walk around your house with the lights off. Your memory is working with your muscles and your brain has created shortcuts to understanding how your environment is structured and the things that you commonly see. And that's not just in your house. That's also your daily commute to work. Now I said in a recent episode that if you want to have a better understanding, a better grasp of time to take a new way home from work, to walk around your neighborhood in a different route than you've ever walked before. And the reason for that is because you're forcing your brain to take in new information. And that process kind of disallows your brain from taking its normal shortcuts. You're forcing yourself to take in new things. Now if you are trying to focus on coding or learning to code and you're also in a new situation, well your brain is on overload because it's taking in all of that new information around it that it hasn't had a chance to create symbols for. That it hasn't had a chance to create those shortcuts and optimize around those things. And so your brain is trying to optimize because it thinks that okay, well since we're in a new location, maybe I'm going to be here for a while and I'll need to learn this place. So that next time I encounter it, I know how to perceive it quickly, how to have those shortcuts in place so that I can focus on more important things. And so if you're in a brand new location, it's going to be a little bit more difficult for you to focus. And as we know, focus is incredibly important to the learning process. So how do you focus in a brand new place? How do you focus when you're trying to work in a situation that is fundamentally new to your brain? I'm going to take a quick sponsor break and then I'll give you a few tips on how to focus when you're in a fundamentally new place. You've probably heard of QuickBooks and you might even use QuickBooks every day in your small business. But did you know that QuickBooks has an API? Intuit has built the API with developers in mind using standards like Open ID, OAuth, and REST API calls. And with millions of businesses already using QuickBooks, you've got a customer base that's ready to use your app. And you can even publish your app on apps.com. Intuit's application marketplace built specifically for QuickBooks users. And here's the best part of the QuickBooks API and apps.com. It's all free. Intuit doesn't take a royalty share from the applications that you publish. You can get up and running in just a few minutes using the developer sandbox and the API explorer. Just go to developer.intuit.com today to get started. There will also be a link in the show notes to let Intuit know that you're a developer to you listener, which is a huge help to the show. Check it out in the show notes on developertea.com. So we've talked about why it's difficult to focus in new environments. Specifically, we talked about how our brain is wired to optimize our environment to take shortcuts when it can. But when we put ourselves in new environments, it has to re-optimize for that new environment. It has to take that new information in. And so it can be a little bit difficult for us to work in those new environments. So I've got a few tips for you if you are commonly on the road and you're trying to learn how to program while you are on the road. And this goes for people not only who are just trying to learn how to program, but anybody who's trying to focus on coding while you're on the road. And in fact, it's anybody who's trying to code in a new environment. Anybody who's trying to focus on coding in a new environment. Here are a few tips for you. A couple of these tips are focused on the simple concept that you should develop a consistent routine even while you are traveling. Now, why should you have a routine? Well, as we were just discussing, your brain is wired for that efficiency. So if you give it something that is already optimized, if you lower the barrier to entry by giving your brain something that you have continued to do on a daily basis, then it doesn't have to think so hard about, for example, when you should sit down to code and you eliminate the need for your brain to try to determine which one it should do, have fun on your trip or be distracted or code. When you have a routine, your brain gets the signal that now is the time to do whatever it is that is in your routine for the day. So if you start coding every day at 9 o'clock, when 9 o'clock rolls around the optimization part of your brain, prepares itself for coding. And this is just the way our brains work. Now, granted, I am not the biologist here, quad. Run this through your understanding of biology because I'm certain that you will have some enlightening information. I love for you to share it with me. But I know that our brains thrive when we are trying to learn something on a routine, on a consistent schedule. So there are a few ways that you can create this routine. Number one, create a playlist of music and preferably its instrumental music or find some kind of background sounds that you can listen to on a regular basis. Now, maybe you have different playlists for each day or something like that, but I tend to use the same playlist every day and that acts as kind of a trigger for my brain and to get me into a kind of working mode. Number two, develop a few rituals that get you into the working mindset. Now, this is even more valuable if these rituals also encourage positive and healthy habits. This is just another part of a routine. You can do a lot of these things no matter where you are. For example, a lot of people wake up and exercise early in the morning. Some people will get up and do yoga or meditation in the morning. Of course, there's the popular coffee and breakfast routine in the morning. I prefer coffee in the morning. I do drink tea throughout the day and those triggers kind of help my mind stay in the mindset of my work. I have these rituals that I perform while I am working. And so if I'm performing these rituals, then it helps my mind realize, hey, now is the time to be coding. So that is the third point. You have to commit to a schedule and that schedule needs to be a realistic commitment. Provide yourself flexibility in your schedule so you can adapt to the demands of that variability. So regardless of if you're traveling or if you are in a new office, there are new demands whenever you are in a new location, whenever you're in a new situation, you should make your realistic commitment with flexibility. So what does this look like in practice? Well, maybe you say that you start absolutely start learning or start coding at 9 a.m. and you code between three and five hours and you stop whenever you stop, you're done for the day. Now, giving yourself the three to five hour range, you are more likely to meet a range. This is scientifically proven. You're more likely to meet a range goal than you are to meet a specific goal, even if that specific goal is an average of that range, even if you were to say that you absolutely are going to code for four hours instead of three to five, you are more likely to fail at that commitment than if you were to give yourself a range rather than a specific, a specific number to meet. Okay, so number four, do your work early in the morning or late at night or whenever the distractions around you are likely to be minimal. So early in the morning or late at night, most of the different businesses you might would visit are closed. Most of the different attractions, if you are traveling for pleasure, that different attractions might be closed or maybe they're boring to go to at those particular times. And so you give yourself less room for procrastination when you are learning during times where you otherwise wouldn't have anything to do anyway. Now, the last point is to simply go easy on yourself. Your brain can only do so much. So you should reward yourself for sticking to your schedule that you've committed to by having fun on your trip, by actually allowing yourself to experience the new places around you. This is all a part of life. And if you're trying to enjoy your trip, if you're trying to enjoy new experiences in your life, which I believe is a very important part of our lives, you should go easy on yourself. Allow yourself to be distracted every once in a while. I know it's not a popular perspective. I know that you would like to focus and you want to be productive. But at the end of the day, your brain can only do so much. So if you put yourself in a situation where you where you are distracted, make the best of it. Make the best of it by sticking to schedule and doing what you can and rewarding yourself for doing what you can. But don't be too hard on yourself. Don't be so disappointed whenever you fail to focus perfectly for a given day. Wake up tomorrow. Start again at the beginning of your routine. Get that music going in your ears or whatever it is that you have to do. And to get yourself in the right mindset and try again every day. Stick to the schedule. Stick to the routines. Develop those rituals for your life and allow your brain to experience these new things. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. Clyde, I hope that this has been enlightening. I hope that you've enjoyed this answer to your question. Thank you for sending in the question. And if you other listeners are interested in sending a question to me, you can reach me at Developer Tea. Gmail.com where you can find me on Twitter at at Developer Tea. Show notes for this episode and all other episodes of Developer Teacan be found at developertea.com. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. And until next time, enjoy your tea.