“Spend 15 minutes per day reading about your craft and within 5 years you will be in the top 5% of your industry.”
I read this quote a couple years ago and have tried to live by it since to see if it is accurate. I wouldn’t consider myself in the top 5% so it hasn’t worked yet. I keep doing it though because I see why it can work. To be in the top 5%, you have to do things only the top 5% do. The top programmers continually learn new and better ways of programming and if you do that, then one day you will be among them.
What does this have to do with blogs?
It is tempting to go through RSS feeds and think you have improved your knowledge. When you think about what you learn by reading blogs, have you really learned that much? Blogs are great but there is a major problem with relying on them for learning. How much time does it take for an average blogger to write up a blog post? A couple hours? Maybe more if they aim for higher quality. Compare that with books. Authors spend months and months writing the content for a single book. Books go into much more depth than even the best blogger could provide. When choosing sources to learn from, pick the ones that have had the most effort and thought put in. Books > articles > blog posts > comments
A programmers job is on getting things done and getting things to work. When you can reliably get things working with little effort, complacency can begin to sink in. You start thinking that because you always get things to work, you know everything. This is dangerous. It’s a good reason to read books to keep you humble.
Whenever I’m reading a technical book, I’ll always find better ways of doing things. It could be simple like learning a new function or bigger such as design methods. This keeps me from wrongfully thinking I know everything. If I can still learn new things, I am far from being an expert.
Can you really accomplish much in 15 minutes?
You would be surprised how 15 minutes per day adds up. The first few days seem like nothing. After a week or two you realise how much you have picked up. 15 minutes doesn’t allow for excuses. No matter how busy anyone can find 15 minutes each day. This can be applied in other areas as well. If you have a business idea but think you don’t have enough time, start doing it for 15 minutes per day. You will soon start to see major progress.
But you say, “I don’t want to buy technical books. They will be out of date in 2 months and will just collect dust on my shelf.”
Luckily the Internet has solved that problem. I recently signed up for Safari Online and couldn’t be more pleased. There are thousands of technical titles to choose from for only $23 per month. Considering that just one technical book costs double that, it is an excellent deal. I can read as many books as I have time for and don’t need them cluttering up my desk afterwards.
There is no excuse not to develop your skills a little each day. Time and cost are not issues. Do yourself a favour. Read for 15 minutes each day.
Link to Safari Books Online