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Ask HN: What is your workflow for self studying new subjects?
18 points by optbuild 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 3 comments
Suppose you have a wishlist of subjects or topics that you want to learn. And you primarily want to learn them by self study using books, videos, academic papers, etc.

What workflow or method do you follow to learn those subjects? Suppose you have varied interests not just on the superficial level. You want to go deep in studying and understanding those topics.

Do you study more than one subject at a time? Or do you intensely study one at a time? Do you write things down or make detailed notes?

How many topics and subjects have you studied that way?




I’m not an expert in many things, and someone else will likely give a better answer, but..

I usually start with exposure. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, watch lessons, in the area of interest. I’ll be presented with new terms and concepts without any context. Eventually as I continue to do this I build just a little bit of context, and before I know it I’m asking myself questions. “Why does x do y to z?”

At this point the search engines usually can tell that I’m a newbie to the field and will return so very low level explanations of my questions. Maybe they are right, maybe they are vague, I can’t really tell at this point.

Once I’ve found some answers that appear to make sense, I’ll have built up enough confidence in my understanding to dive in deeper.

At this point I usually seek out a lesson or course on the subject. This is when the learning curve resets. Any confidence I had is often out the window and I begin to build some actual context around the terms and concepts I exposed myself to early on.

From there on, it’s all uphill. Taking lessons from many sources until I’ve gained a beginners understanding of the area of interest. Eventually something clicks and I realize I’m ready for the next lesson.

I might not be completely ready to complete the next lesson, but I feel comfortable starting this process over again from a slightly higher level of understanding.

It certainly helps that my employer provides us with a great learning/lesson platform that I can either listen in on passively while I do other work (to begin the exposure part), and begin taking lessons and completing assignments when I’ve gained a bit of confidence.

Hope this was helpful.


I prefer a structured approach. I start by setting clear goals and creating a study plan. Online courses, books, and reputable websites are my go-to resources. Taking notes and reviewing regularly helps reinforce my understanding. Joining study groups or forums to discuss topics and ask questions also enhances my learning experience.


1. Trying to understand what the subject is about by searching information in google and youtube, like "What is _subject_?" and looking in wikipedia page.

2. Looking in google, youtube, wikipedia for alternatives.

3. Reading introduction section in official documentation.

4. If on previous steps I decided that I need to learn new subject I am starting looking and buying book at Amazon or Udemy course (prioritizing books over Udemy courses).

5. Staring reading book or doing Udemy course and in parallel reading official documentation.




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