How to study?

It’s no secret that I am and always have been, attracted to and intrigued by a multitude of subjects. And when I get my mind caught on something, I want to research and know everything about it, be it plant dyeing or horse nutrition. We’ve discussed how to learn, now I’m onto what.

photo collage

During a conversation about strengths last week, I realized, although I haven’t done Strengthsfinder 2.0, that one of mine is probably being a learner. All my life I’ve just sucked up information like a sponge and I love being a walking databank (others, not so much, my brother fiercely protested that I could not always be right, and my friend Nicole calls me “Hermione”). So although I feel I need more strengths to actually put my learning to good use, I think it’s altogether a pretty good superpower. 😉

I don’t know if all superpowers have a down side, but this one does: I get so absorbed in the theory, that I never get around to practice. When I get a new camera (like – once a century or so) I want to know what ALL the buttons do and then proceed to take really boring crummy pix because I’m in technical mode, not artistic. I just watched some videos on Golden products and began making a list, I want that one and this one and I gotta try such and such and…. Never mind that I need an extra wad of cash coming in if I want to buy ALL the things , they don’t do much on their own while I’m reading tutorials (I guess this link totally dates me).

I mentioned brain art before and it goes very well hand in hand with my desire to learn. And nothing to show for it except a lot of supplies!! (And then when I do get cracking I discard all exercises and just do my own thing – I guess I’m weird that way (too)). People are often asking me “what have you made?” (or – can’t you sell your stuff?) Um, yeah, right, what stuff, I’m just playing, err….

Incidentally on my list is for instance black gesso, could somebody please tell me what is was that I wanted that for? 😉 Note to self: when making wish lists, also write down why. (I know what it is – but why?)

I sometimes regret being a jack of all trades and master at none, while I also don’t really want to give anything up unless it fades on its own. And I feel like I’m up to adding more knowledge right now, less randomly. I love to study (much more than “working”) and I’d like to go deeper, the question is, what would be the best method.

I have a whole list of topics that I specifically want to develop further such as Photoshopping and more languages.


So I’d like to know what other people do and why that works best for each of you.

Do it like we used to at school – various subjects every day or week for a few hours/a day at a time, or all-in doing just the one thing for a week, month or longer? Normally I use the completely unstructured variety called “whatever I feel like” which isn’t very efficient because I keep going off on tangents. I think I need to make up a curriculum for myself for, say, the winter? To remove the urge of doing ALL the things NOW.

I’m not planning on taking actual out of the house classes, which is inconvenient for me as well as not very appealing. With bookish topics I want to do MY thing and not wait for everybody else or follow their agenda. I’m much more likely to do weekend workshops on the crafty subjects such as weaving.

So far I’ve been thinking a maximum of 2 topics per week + whatever else I feel like doing, as in not studying per se. What I don’t know is if I can keep up the same two for several months and not even look at other books/articles? Perhaps one longterm and several that take turns for a week or two or until I feel like I’m done with each for the “semester”?

A topic lasting “all” day will most likely be only once a week. I do have some kind of life on the side, ya know? Sometimes I do well with that, other times I can’t focus on the same for so many hours. Half days are more realistic at present. I also have to consider not overdoing it, putting more and more pressure on myself to perform, because then my brain shuts me down completely.

And then after some pondering and writing this post, I’m beginning to think “just one”. One “serious” topic at a time really is enough or I’ll run myself into the ground with ambition. Part of me hates to limit myself like that, but the second thought appeared to say, perhaps it’s also a path to freedom (strange choice of words, but that’s what it said). Can you hear how hectic my previous paragraphs sound? That’s the old me. Do I want to go there? Not really.

Now for the hardest part: pick one from the list. 😉 “You can do anything, but not everything.”

Gardening application UI
One study project that never went further because of job stress – learning to make Flash Air applications. It says “Garden calendar”, and my inner perfectionist already pointed out AND made me go correct the Illustrator file, that the K and the A are too far apart… 😉

11 thoughts on “How to study?

  1. A aha! If I knew how to study I would have done better in school.
    But still you should just go where your heart and brain takes you. It is what makes you – you.

  2. Have you considered taking an online course? I paid for my first course about a month ago, and the thing is, paying for it definitely forced me to actually utilize it. I got a great deal more out of it than I would have were I trying to set things up for myself. (But I’m one who sometimes needs that push for motivation).

    I think that inner voice might have the wisdom you need. I’m inclined to say to not limit yourself– it sounds like it would make you miserable. Maybe have one day a week in which all subjects are open– study hour, if you will, in which you focus on what you want. And the other days stay on the one or two subjects you’ve decided on the most.

    I think it’s good to keep encouraging yourself, no matter what you decide, by focusing on small accomplishments. We learn a trade through tiny increments, day after day. So even if you only spent 15 minutes on something, don’t get yourself down on the remaining X amount of hours spent doing something unproductive (for me, lately, it’s been getting sucked into a new television show on Netflix!!!). Celebrate those 15 minutes. (This seems to be my biggest lesson the past couple of weeks). (Not that it’s good to watch 10 hours of television a day, it’s just that if I get down on myself on not doing enough, I tend to do even less the next day than if I just say, 15 minutes was great today. Now try an hour tomorrow- which turns into 5 hours)

    I hope you find something that works. 🙂 Sending blessings

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I hadn’t considered an online course, no, perhaps as I work my way down the list, some of the subjects will feel suitable for that. I don’t really need one though, I think the pace would be the same as a real class (aka slow) and not enough content per lesson, at least for the “bookish” subjects. (I once thought I’d take a course in javascript programming. The girl next to me repeatedly could not spell “html” and I’d been making websites in Notepad for years. I lasted half a day, reading a book the size of two bricks and still managed to work ahead of the class)

      Perhaps if I wanted to tackle something I’d never done before, like a phd in English literature or something, LOL. For artsy stuff, there are so many prompts and projects out there for free, just for the picking, tutorials and whatnot. I spent 20% of my school years learning and the rest waiting for everybody else, so it’s not an attractive situation for me – and if I just want data, I don’t need the community part either, because it doesn’t happen in those settings anyway.

      This morning, first page on my screen was this:

      I guess that’s as good a message as any…

    2. Oh, and just having study day, perhaps one a week, with a pick of the day subject could be a great solution btw. Structured in timing, but yet not limiting. My trouble is not so much an ADD type of thing, because I really can get down to work on one topic. It’s just that I want more things than I have hours…

  3. I can relate to this! Generally I used to have ongoing obsessions which would last around three months or a bad relationship I suppose lol. but once I started drawing and painting, it’s gradually taken over, so the part time obsessions occur less and less, though sometimes I have trouble with maintaing focus in my art work.

    One day a week study day sounds good to me.

  4. Just realised my comment didn’t have enough context – I mean I want to learn everything (have been through astronomy, archeaology, art history, psychology – ongoing – history to name a few) but tend to have an ongoing obsession with one thing at a time.

    I really rate online courses too, by the way.

    1. Yes, I have something similar going on, although my interests HAVE focused a bit more into similar topics over the years. But it’s the same kind of obsession I’ve had with plant dyeing, I have a feeling once I’ve sucked out all information to be found, I’ll just be adding it to my treasure chest and not actually do it all the time.

      1. Sometime, at least I’ve noticed with myself and certainly seen others talk about it, obsessive learning can become an elaborate form of procrastination.

        1. You know, I was just thinking about that after reading your first reply!! Changing subjects can keep you from success and failure equally, as well as being, I don’t know what to call it, a slow form of ADD? It would be interesting to ask oneself “why” when a new topic comes up. And try to see what happens inside if you push a bit further on the same subject after you think you’re done with it.

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