After working 8 hours, how can I learn to program in the evening?

The most important point and the one thing you should remember above all the other suggestions is the power of consistent progress. It doesn’t matter how much. You just have to be steady.

Let’s start with how much time you really have, 24 hours each weekday plus the entire weekend. Or maybe you work on the weekends. You should have some days off. A regular 40 hour job will give you plenty of time. Here’s how:

  • 8 hours per day working.
  • 1 hour for lunch.
  • Another hour for getting ready for work in the morning. You should be able to get at least a bowl of cereal in that time.
  • 1 hour for dinner and catching up on the nightly news.
  • An hour for stopping by the store on your way home to pick up supplies. Try to do things like this on the weekend but I know there will be things you have to do, either a trip to the bank, getting gas, or picking up the kids.
  • An hour for travel time. This assumes you drive about a half hour each way.
  • Another hour for exercise and bathing.
  • A full 8 hours of sleep. This is important. Don’t try to substitute energy drinks or stay awake with coffee. You need your sleep. A lot of people think sleep is for tired muscles and while it can help with that, sleep is mainly for your mind. This is the time when your mind is organizing and making sense of the day. Our mind goes through several cycles each night and uninterrupted sleep is critical to completing these cycles. Don’t set your alarm clock an hour early and then snooze 10 times thinking it’ll help you wake up gradually. All you end up doing is wasting that hour and you’ll probably feel even more tired.

Okay, how much is left? Well, all of that comes to 22 hours.

This is where most of us think we don’t have any time. After all, what can you really hope to accomplish in just 2 hours? Is it really worth it? Maybe you should just watch a couple TV shows and call it a day.

If you do this, that’s when the feeling of hopelessness and being trapped take over. Your days can become depressing and you look forward to the weekend to relax, chill out, or maybe tackle that home repair or mow the yard. Even your weekends become full and busy and when you think about the coming work week, it can be hard to devote time to learning.

Listen to the episode, or read the full transcript below, to learn some more tips about how to manage that last bit of remaining time each week.

Transcript

Okay on to the question this week. This is another question that I found online. It’s definitely hard to learn something after a long day and it doesn’t matter what your job is. I’ll give you some suggestions that’ll hopefully make it easier for you.

I’ve mentioned this before and will keep bringing it up. The most important point and the one thing you should remember above all the other suggestions is the power of consistent progress. It doesn’t matter how much. You just have to be steady.

Let’s start with how much time you really have, 24 hours each weekday plus the entire weekend. Or maybe you work on the weekends. You should have some days off. You know the best schedule I ever had was in my first full-time job after college. I worked 12 hour shifts from 7 am to 7 pm. If you have a schedule like this, then, yeah, there will be less time. But you should be able to make up for it on another day. For me, I worked 3 days then had 3 days off. Then I worked 4 days and had 4 days off. That meant every weekend was either a 3 or 4 day weekend. If you have a schedule like this, you’re in a great position to learn programming. Even a regular 40 hour job will give you plenty of time. Here’s how.

◦ 8 hours per day working.
◦ 1 hour for lunch.
◦ Another hour for getting ready for work in the morning. You should be able to get at least a bowl of cereal in that time.
◦ 1 hour for dinner and catching up on the nightly news.
◦ An hour for stopping by the store on your way home to pick up supplies. Try to do things like this on the weekend but I know there will be things you have to do, either a trip to the bank, getting gas, or picking up the kids.
◦ An hour for travel time. this assumes you drive about a half hour each way.
◦ Another hour for exercise and bathing.
◦ A full 8 hours of sleep. This is important. Don’t try to substitute energy drinks or stay awake with coffee. You need your sleep. A lot of people think sleep is for tired muscles and while it can help with that, sleep is mainly for your mind. This is the time when your mind is organizing and making sense of the day. Our mind goes through several cycles each night and uninterrupted sleep is critical to completing these cycles. Don’t set your alarm clock an hour early and then snooze 10 times thinking it’ll help you wake up gradually. All you end up doing is wasting that hour and you’ll probably feel even more tired.

Okay, how much is left? Well, all of that comes to 22 hours. This is where most of us think we don’t have any time. After all, what can you really hope to accomplish in just 2 hours? Is it really worth it? Maybe you should just watch a couple TV shows and call it a day.

If you do this, that’s when the feeling of hopelessness and being trapped take over. Your days can become depressing and you look forward to the weekend to relax, chill out, or maybe tackle that home repair or mow the yard. Even you weekends become full and busy and when you think about the coming work week, it can be hard to devote time to learning.

I’ll give you some suggestions right after this message from our sponsor.

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2 hours. That’s what most of us have available. Let’s take another hour for helping the kids with their homework, opening the mail, or cleaning the house. That leaves just 1 hour a day. Here’s what I recommend to make the most of this precious time.

◦ #1 Guard that hour. Set up a schedule and stick to it. This doesn’t have to be based on a certain time on the clock. I recommend that you instead attach this time to something you’re already doing. It’s a lot easier to transition from one task to another than to start from zero. There’s just something about moving that helps us keep moving.

◦ #2 Remember the first thing I mentioned at the beginning of this episode? About steady progress? Well, realize that this 1 hour each weekday will be more productive in the long run than spending 5 solid hours just once a week. By breaking your sessions up like this, you give your brain time to process what you’ve learned and time to think of more questions and ideas. We tend to think about things that are in front of us. So putting the programming lessons into each of your days, helps to keep the topic fresh. You’ll find that you start thinking about programming when walking, and driving, and yes, when dreaming.

◦ #3 Be creative with your schedule. You might actually get more value from your hour if you begin in the morning with your bowl of cereal at your side while still in your pajamas. Attaching this hour to your breakfast is a great idea. It also gives you a hard stop because you don’t want to be late for work. You might find that you arrive for work feeling energized because you just accomplished your hour of learning.

◦ #4 Avoid distractions. Silence your phone, get rid of the popups telling you that your best friend just ate a banana, and get in the habit of learning in the same place. Don’t sit with your laptop at the dining table where you also watch TV. Find a place that’s just for learning. It’ll help you focus when all the signals are consistent and encouraging you.

With just 1 hour of applied and consistent learning each day, you can do almost anything. And learning how to program? In the bag. You may not see much of a difference after a day or two. You probably won’t even notice a month or two. The change will be gradual. But the effects will get progressively bigger.

Also, don’t forget your days off. These are perfect for longer learning stretches. Just don’t overdue it. Remember that our bodies have rhythms and it might take you a while to work up to longer concentration times. If you’re going to learn how to program for more than an hour, I suggest setting a timer for 50 minutes. When it goes off, get up and walk around the house for a few minutes. Even if you feel like you’re on a roll, taking a short break will actually help prolong that roll.

In the beginning, here’s another suggestion that’ll help you stick to your weekday schedule. Try to do things on the weekend that’ll save time during the weekdays. If you really like to watch TV or a good movie, then save it for the weekend as a reward for sticking to your schedule. Get as many errands done on Saturday. Each task you can do when you have lots of time will really be worth it when you’ve only got that one hour each weekday that you need to protect.