Hack your habits: top tips from our experts on effective learning
July 15, 2021
Table of contents
Nowadays, to become successful and advance in your career, you always have to be one step ahead, especially with your professional skills. However, juggling work and personal life can sometimes prove too much, and adding extra learning time may seem impossible. Therefore, we talked to the top geeks in our team: Asta Laurinaitytė (Growth Marketing Team Lead), Marijus Briedis (CTO), Dovilė Rumšaitė (Head of Studio), and Inga Šaulienė (Learning and Development partner), on how they manage to learn effectively and grow as professionals, even with tight-packed schedules and heavy responsibilities.
Learn like a Growth Marketing Team Lead
Asta Laurinaitytė, Growth Marketing Team Lead
How important is learning at your position?
Actually, it's a must. My position is demanding but also very exciting - every quarter brings new challenges, so I need to be quick to learn and implement things. That way, we get to learn in practice a lot - which is great. I also am very curious, so always try to dedicate some learning time both professionally and personally. Even if it ends up being only 15 minutes. Of course, sometimes I spend those 15 minutes scrolling my phone, like a lot of us do :)
Could you share your favorite ways of learning, which work best for you as a professional?
Personally, I focus on practicality - things that are actually useful in my work or when I have to solve issues, gaps of information in my mind. Then I know what I'm looking for. And I always make structured notes when learning so that I can find the information when needed.
Another great way to learn is to teach others, so I try to share my knowledge whenever I have the chance. For example, when I started working in this company, a lot of things were new to me, so I talked about it with friends and family and learned by explaining difficult things to others.
Do you think that expectations for professionals to evolve and learn constantly are realistic? Why?
We work in a dynamic and fast-changing industry, so learning and evolving are part of our job. The most important thing is to be passionate about your work - learning and growing will follow naturally. I like what I do, so I enjoy researching work-related topics, talking with colleagues, and bettering myself every day.
Could you share your top tips on how to effectively learn while on the job?
Schedule your time and plan topics in advance. If it's not on your agenda - you won't have time for it.
Make notes. Everyone has different ways of memorizing things. Find yours - just make sure that the information is easy to find later on.
Talk with people. It's a cliche, but it's true - everyone knows something you know nothing about.
Learn like a CTO
Marijus Briedis, CTO
You carry loads of responsibility around here. Could you tell us more about how you still manage to learn new things while being busy?
Planning and time management is the key. I'm not only planning my quarterly goals, weekly or daily work tasks - I plan my learning too. So I know what topics I'll dig next week and what courses I'll do next quarter.
What are your favorite channels, sources, or methods of learning, and which are most effective in your opinion?
Depends if I'm learning a specific topic or fishing for new information. Regarding the first one, I really love the O'Reilly library - it contains the latest books and great video content. Likewise, Pluralsight is a great place with valuable video content. For newer content, I have my collection of sources, usually through RSS or mailing lists. Personally, having a dedicated time and environment really helps to achieve the "smart learning" mode. Also, sharing what you've learned helps to solidify the knowledge in place.
On a scale of 0 to 100, how important is improvement and learning for professionals who want to advance their careers in the tech sector?
110 and no kidding. Nowadays, working in the IT field and not learning means zero progress. Base knowledge is essential, but new technologies are popping up almost every day. So even if you're changing your environment often and have new projects every quarter, you still should be learning weekly.
What are your top tips on how to effectively learn while on the job?
Dedicate time for it.
Pick the learning methods that work best for you.
Learn together with your team
Dovilė Rumšaitė, Head of Studio
You lead a production team called "Studio," and your team is famous for their geekiness and dedication to learn new skills. Could you tell more about how you guys learn and why it is important for your team?
Yes, we have dedicated time to learn and used to call it Learning day, which was half of last Friday of the month only devoted to learning. During these times, we would either do independent courses on Skillshare, watch movies about our design idols, or use this time to learn in some other form. Sometimes, one of our designers would prepare a keynote about trends, or we'd repeat a course about design hierarchy, or even have a guest appearance. Inspired by our CMO, Toma Sabaliauskienė, I prepared a lecture about personality and how to put together one's life vision and values - this is how we grow mentally, not only professionally. As a production team, we always have full to-do lists that seem never to end. However, learning is crucial in our line of work, so we always make time for it.
Do you manage to stay consistent with your learning? How much of a priority is it?
We try to stay consistent, but as everyone knows, everything's dynamic and fast-changing here at Nord Security. So it truly depends on our schedules. We add this monthly time into our calendars beforehand and try not to cancel unless it's a true emergency. We keep it a priority because not only do we grow as professionals but also our "clients" benefit from our improved work.
Does your team practice knowledge-sharing? How?
We do! It usually happens during syncs and weekly meetings, where we exchange feedback on our ongoing designs. In addition, designers at Studio are more than happy to share their knowledge even with other departments: this quarter, we're preparing guidelines and planning events for our colleagues so that they could learn more about what we create here every day.
Could you share your top tips on how to effectively learn while on the job?
Don't be afraid to ask questions and show that you don't know something - believe it or not, people are willing to point you in the right direction and more.
Also, a key rule - dedicate time to learn (together with the team or individually). You'll never get to the top if you're not improving every day.
How people at Nord Security learn
Inga Šaulienė, Learning and Development Partner
You lead the Learning and Development field at Nord Security. Could you tell us more about whether the community here is as knowledge-hungry as they say?
Our community is extremely knowledge-hungry. Counting only internal and external training sessions, we already spent 2725 hours learning this year. On top of it, we should add the time for e-learning, knowledge sharing sessions, mentoring, and other ways that our people use to better themselves.
What are the most popular methods and sources of knowledge, and what subjects are the employees most interested in?
I find the most interesting is that our employees have different learning methods even if the skill they need to improve is the same. We have a lot of people who enjoy learning in internal training sessions. The favorites are Effective Communication, Google Analytics, and Negotiation Skills. Another popular way to learn is using e-learning platforms like Udemy, Pluralsight, FrontendMasters, etc. However, I know many colleagues who learn the most during their daily work by taking on challenging tasks or proactively asking their team members to provide feedback. We always encourage people to try different ways and to find what works best for them.
Have you noticed any correlations between how much a person is learning and their advancement on the job?
If you want to succeed in a fast-growing company like Nord Security, you can do it only by learning every day. However, I notice that learning is most effective when it's planned. If the person knows his strengths and weaknesses, plans his improvement steps, and reflects on his progress, he'll advance in the job. I spot such people easily during my soft skills training sessions. They usually tend to come prepared, ask questions and are ready to go full speed. And then, in a few months, I meet them signing their promotion documents - that's how it works in the tech world.
What are your personal ways of learning effectively and reaching your goals?
Have a development plan. Set clear goals of improvement for the upcoming quarter and year.
Find your favorite learning method. My favs are reading books and learning from colleagues;
Practice what you learn and reflect on your progress.
5 hacks on how to learn and advance your skills:
Schedule your learning time in advance. The task list will still be there once you're done. And afterward, you may deal with it more efficiently using your new skills.
Have a clear development plan on what you want to learn next. Planning is a must - without clear goals, no progress will be made.
Find your favorite learning method. One shoe doesn't fit all. Find your secret recipe for success. Usually, best done by testing out different things.
Take notes or save the information in another format. Busy minds mean information leaking through - find ways to lock it in place for later use.
Share with others and practice. The more you repeat or apply, the greater the effect of your learning efforts.