How problem solving techniques reformed my learning capabilities

Why read this article? If consciously reading, understanding and retaining a new concept, seems like the hardest thing in your life. Maybe you’re doing it wrong.

Prologue

I am Adil. A software engineer and every few months or year, I take a sabbatical, learn from mistakes of past year along with skills of the coming years. If you were to ask me my learning process, the usual suspects are. A list of topics, set of books and a deadline. Already hard, but I made it work until it didn't consequently. Lets say you are learning to make a bridge with pillars and planks. Day 1 you learn what a pillar is. Day 2 you learn what a plank is. Day 3 when you are about to make the bridge by placing plank on pillars, you forgot what a pillar is.

Grey Planks and Pink Pillars

The best way to learn how a screwdriver works is to take an engine apart & put it back together. The point is to do something else that forces you to use screwdrivers, so you see how they’re actually used. Far better than taking a class on screwdrivers.
Elon Musk

That quote right there by Mr musk was my turning point. You will not understand the point of a notebook, unless you have ever felt the need to take a note.

Journey

Hindered by the lack of progress, I started working on memory and retaining techniques. Youtube shorts introduced me to memory trainer jim kwik.

Memory

There is no good or bad memory, there is trained or untrained memory.
Jim Kwik

There is plethora of techniques that jim described but I am going to discuss what has worked for me and more importantly has stuck with me after trying out so many.

Documentary and Observatory Note taking

Simply put, on your notebook, divide the page into two sections vertically. Name one Notes Made (documenting your learning) and other Notes Taken (Making active observations).
Example. Some one is teaching you what Phillips head screwdriver is. Then your left side will be taking note of specifics being taught about the Phillips head, and on right your your own personal speculation of what a Phillips head screwdriver could be or do.

The observatory section is actually you getting hands on and trying to understand better the intent of a tool.

Exhibit 1. My personal notes while learning regular expressions

Problem Solving Techniques

A Problem Well Stated is Half Solved.
Charles Kettering

Assuming that, What If I say

A tool’s purpose is only understood in context of a problem well stated.

If most of human inventions or ideas are to reduce effort, then to understand them the best place is to start at the problem.

Keeping in mind rephrasing goals and non goals, birds eye view and original intention. I add four more questions to my already partitioned notes section.

Notes Made (Documenting)

  1. What a concept/tool/idea is?
  2. What it is’nt?

Notes Taken (Observartions)

  1. What problem was its creator having?
  2. Who uses it and how?

So using this guide, One can go through the complete discovery process of a problem and the thought process that went into designing the tool. This helped me understand, retain and even extend the tool to suit my niche problem.

Bonus
I am learning golang these days. If you want to know what problem its creators were facing with c++ that they decided to eventually create go. Watch these two videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ReKdcpNyQg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hxKEbWO5u0

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ADIL RAFIQ

Bikes, Tea, Sunsets in that order. Software Engineer who fell in love with cloud-native infrastructure.