You probably already know this, but here at Treehouse, we feel very strongly about continuing education. Many of us in the company are developers, so we also know how important it is to “never stop learning”. As a developer, you commit to becoming a lifelong learner. As an educator, you often think about the best way to illustrate that value to students and encourage them to continually learn something new. We even recently started a company-wide learning book club with the goal of learning about learning. After a few months, one of the main takeaways was the value of consistent study over time, even for short periods of time. Armed with this knowledge, we wanted to challenge each other and our student to take just 15 minutes every day to learn something new. After much planning, we started the #15minchallenge.
We encouraged Treehouse students to take part in the challenge, but it was equally as important for us to commit to the challenge ourselves. So what was my experience like committing to learning for 15 minutes a day?
I am making a #15MinChallenge commitment: learn to build a social media hash tag contest drawing system with Python https://t.co/t3djiypiKk
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) January 30, 2017
How the project progressed
I started out strong and even amazed myself at what could be done in 15 minutes.
#day2 #15minchallenge used Tweepy in @pycharm to connect to twitter. Sent tweet, pulled hashtags +Earned my Describing Data badge! pic.twitter.com/RULi1LCDnu
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 1, 2017
#15minchallenge #day5 got json feed of tweets writing to a file so I can analyze more than a week
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 4, 2017
#day7 #15minchallenge reading my saved json, check last tweet, pull new tweets, add new tweets to file pic.twitter.com/p2h91GQtKR
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 6, 2017
As a PHP Teacher here at Treehouse and Organizer of the local PHP users group, PHP is my main professional focus throughout most of my day. I LOVE the PHP community! But Python also has a great community and I’ve been wanting to expand my knowledge in that area. This challenge gave me an excuse to continue learning about Python. I really enjoyed how the Treehouse courses are setup to allow me to get through a couple videos and some sort of evaluation in that 15 minutes. I really felt like I learned something every day. I was also able to complete a couple courses within the month-long challenge, which added to my feelings of accomplishment.
#day8 #15minchallenge I completed the Data Science Basic Course @treehouse https://t.co/0U0k7fckzu
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 7, 2017
#day14 #15minchallenge finished up Python Dates and Times @treehouse https://t.co/qQ2YIGe8OV
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 13, 2017
As a reminder to any of you taking Treehouse courses, make sure you read the notes attached to the videos for other great resources and content such as this awesome video:
#day13 #15minchallenge more timezone fun!
Besides the Twitter client I was building and taking Treehouse courses, I also supplemented with a few other great PHP learning opportunities:
#day10 #15minchallenge had a great time learning with @phpdx tonight! +earned my Dates and Times badge @treehouse https://t.co/qQ2YIGe8OV pic.twitter.com/5tWbyGn23J
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 9, 2017
There were days when my learning time was interrupted and I tried to make up for it the next day, sometimes waking up a little early to get some time in.
#day17 #15minchallenge taking a little break from Python to enjoy #phpuk17 Smoke Tests, Static Analysis, Open Source
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 16, 2017
#day12 #15minchallenge catch up, since I spent last evening with my husband instead 😉 Earned "Let's Build a Timed Quiz App" badge pic.twitter.com/YMXxTUFebW
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) February 12, 2017
The hardest part was traveling to London and the recovery week after. It was very difficult to stay on track when I couldn’t stay awake. Even still, I was able to get a minimum viable product (MVP) of my app complete! I did a little cleanup and posted it on GitHub if you’d like to check it out.
#day22 #15minchallenge not pretty, but I pulled a subset of tweets, filtered retweets and chose a random tweet! Cleanup and it's ready!
— alena holligan (@alenaholligan) March 1, 2017
I also really enjoying seeing what other people were doing and interacting with students on twitter. I’m excited for another challenge!
1) Traveling for a conference took its toll. It was very difficult to take the time when I didn’t have a dedicated space or time set aside for working. The week after I returned I was exhausted so I went to bed before working on my challenge. Next time I have any international travel planned, I will give myself some recovery time so I don’t get discouraged and am ready to jump back in with a positive attitude.
2) There are still many things I want to add to my application, but it feels good to have something done and out there. Getting a MVP out on GitHub was a nice accomplishment. As I plan some more time or take on another challenge, here are a few features I’d like to add:
- Count tweets by user
- Report on tweets
- Graph of daily activity
- Graph of # of tweets per user
3) Taking time every day to do something that energizes you is extremely helpful for your emotional well-being as well as your productivity. For me, learning is something that really energizes me. Right now I’m taking time between putting the kids to bed and going to bed myself, to learn about success, leadership and how we learn. The big picture: it all fits together.
To end, here are two great tips and food for thought from Rory Vaden.
“Have you maximized your potential in the current situation?”
Change your mindset from asking “should I…” to asking “how will I..”
How are you planning to continue your learning every day?