Friday, February 13, 2015


In this post guest blogger, Patrick Mathieson, answers the question: What is the best way to structure self-education after graduating form college and working full time? This post originally appeared in Quora.

Welcome my first guest blogger.

If you try to set up a comprehensive self-education program all at once, you run the risk of stumbling, missing your ambitious learning goals, and becoming discouraged.

IMO, the better tactic is to develop the habit of learning new things every day. The best way I know to do that is to read constantly. And the best way to read constantly is to always have a book (or books) right next to your bed.

This is what my bedside drawer looks like right now:

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is grab a coffee and pick up a book. When I go to bed at night, the last thing I do is floss -- and then pick up a book. You can see from the above photo that there's not much rhyme or reason to the book selections... just stuff I think is interesting. Every few months I blow a hundred bucks on Amazon and add 7 or 8 titles to my stack.

(Interestingly, you mentioned "neuroscience, mathematics, coding, critical thinking, behavioral economics" in your question details... you might actually enjoy a few of the books you see above.)

I'm sympathetic to the idea that reading materials should be coordinated in an effort to make a "structured self-education" program... but I also recognize that the human brain craves diversity and gets bored easily. Personally, I find it more productive to focus less on what I'm reading, and focus more on reading consistently. If you regularly read books for an hour or two every day (which isn't hard... squeezing in 45 minutes of reading over coffee and breakfast is my favorite part of the day), you can burn through 20 or 30 or 40 books in any given calendar year. That's enough to digest all the seminal works in whichever field you think will help most in your career and still have time for Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey.

That said... Quora is a pretty awesome place to learn new things, too. If you can sneak in 30 minutes of Quora-ing in addition to everything I wrote above --- you'll be in good shape. Good luck.

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