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Time to get ready to learn

Dear reader,

Ok, the time is come to get ready for the Dutch PHP Conference. Wait, you didn’t think you just showed up and knowledge just magically flowed into your head did you? Nope, it does not work that way. You’ve got to prepare yourself, you’ve got to be ready to learn.

This week

This week you need to spend some time each day looking at the schedule, and thinking about the topics. How does each topic affect the projects you are working on? For instance, in my projects I sometimes leave them for six months and then come back and pick them up. The hard part at that point is figuring out why I made the decisions I made and what I was thinking was the next step. I am looking forward to Raphael Dohms talk How’d we get here? “A guide to Architectural Decision Records because I think it will help me solve that problem.

I’m not going to list all of the talks and workshops that will be presented,  but I am spending a few minutes each morning looking at the schedule, looking at the projects I am either working on or about to start, and making notes about how I think this session can help me. Next week, I will compare those notes to the notes I took during the session and make a decision on whether to pursue the concept or not.

Thursday and Friday

Day of you need to prepare yourself for learning by preparing your workspace. it’s bad enough that most of us take our work with us to a conference – emails, messaging apps, etc still drag us out of the learning zone but at least during the actual sessions, we have the option of turning them off or putting them under our chair. When attending a virtual conference it’s a lot harder to ignore work since we are sitting in front of our computers where we actually DO the work. So to prepare yourself for learning, shut down email, messaging, and social media. That last one, shutting off social media, is hard for me as a speaker to say because I LOVE to see people posting about my talk on social media, but I love more when people are thoughtfully considering what I am telling them. The two are mutually exclusive.

If you absolutely must, between sessions you can open them back up to make sure everything is fine but make sure you close them back down before the next session starts.

Dedicate the time you have with the speakers and other attendees as learning time and treat it as important. If you don’t, your co-workers and those around you who also want your attention won’t treat it as important either.

Next week

As you go into the next week, keep your notes from the conference handy and review them in your downtime. Waiting for a meeting to start? review them. Waiting for CI/CD to complete a run? Review your notes. Finish a task and need a mental spacer before the next one? Review your conference notes.

It’s not enough to just sit in front of the monitor and say you are learning, learning is an activity and you have to fully participate if you want to reap the benefits. Yes, you need to “be in the moment” during the actual conference, but without a plan for before and after, you won’t get the benefit you are looking for. It just takes a little time each day to get ready for and to debrief after the conference.  Commit to yourself that you are going to get the full benefit of the conference by committing to prepare yourself and allow for debrief time.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
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