Podcast Episode

How to Learn Something New


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin from the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

WooCommerce Blocks is a plugin you can add to your site that will give you the cutting edge WooCommerce blocks for your WordPress site.

How to Learn Something New

In this episode, we dive into the art of learning new software tools. Learning is a never-ending journey, and there are always new skills to acquire and software tools to master. Whether it’s for personal or professional growth, the process of learning can be both exciting and challenging. Dustin shares insights gained while tackling the versatile software tool, Notion, and explores the universal strategies for effective learning. Join us as we discuss how to understand your purpose, the importance of hands-on practice, breaking down complex tasks, seeking help and feedback, and the vital elements of consistency and patience.

Topics Covered:

  • Understanding Your Purpose
    • The significance of defining your purpose when learning a new software tool.
    • Examples of clear objectives and goals for learning.
  • Hands-On Practice
    • Why practical experience is crucial for skill acquisition.
    • How to reinforce learning by doing and experimenting.
  • Breaking It Down
    • The value of breaking complex tasks into manageable steps.
    • How incremental progress leads to mastery.
  • Seeking Help and Feedback
    • Strategies for seeking assistance and feedback during the learning process.
    • The role of support forums, live chats, and communities.
  • Consistency and Patience
    • The importance of incorporating learning into your routine.
    • How patience and persistence are keys to successful learning.

Links Shared During the Conversation:

  • YouTube: For video tutorials and demonstrations.
  • Online courses: To gain structured knowledge.
  • Support forums: To seek help and provide feedback.
  • Live chat options: For immediate assistance.
  • Previous podcast episodes: Relevant resources for WordPress and software tools.
  • Notion and other software tool websites: For official documentation and resources.

Learning a new software tool can be a daunting task, but with a clear purpose, consistent effort, and the willingness to seek help when needed, you can overcome any learning curve. Tune in to discover actionable tips and strategies to accelerate your learning journey, whether it’s with software tools like Notion, WordPress, or any other area of interest. Happy learning!

Thank You!

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

[00:00:00] **Dustin:** On today's episode, we are going to talk about how to learn something new right here on your website. Engineer podcast episode number 539.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and today I'm excited because we're learning new things and we're always learning new things. And that's even one of the creeds at Automattic where I work and it's always about, I will never stop learning.

And I think that's a really cool mantra as we live our lives. There's always new things coming. I knew that it's easy to stay complacent with, Oh, I'm just going to continue to use this old feature. I like the old version better. I'm not going to upgrade, but there's always some new perks and some new benefits usually for upgrading to something new.

So I want to talk a little bit about what I'm learning these days. And yeah, that's going to be the show. I have three announcements and a plugin to share them. The first announcement is all about the future of WordPress annual survey.

There is a link to it right in the show notes for episode number 539. This comes out every year and basically has a bunch of questions about how you use WordPress. Do you make money with [00:01:00] WordPress? Like what are your favorite feature? You know, there's a bunch of things inside of this in this survey.

And so I recommend taking it and spread the word. If you know other people who are using WordPress, highly recommend them take this survey as well. The next thing on the list was kind of a controversy this week on over on the plugin section of the WordPress dot org repository and for plugins, they added a button that was live preview.

And if you click the button, it would automatically launch that plugin inside of a playground, a wordpress playground. I've talked about playgrounds before when you open up wordpress or playground.wordpress.net and it opens up and you can see all of them, you know, basically you can start using the plugin and they had this button on the plugin directory for Every plugin that was out there and a lot of them would just break.

Sometimes they didn't have the right versions of PHP selected. Sometimes they were dependencies. So maybe if they were a, a plugin, like the one we're gonna talk about WooCommerce blocks, like it would try to install that, but it wouldn't have WooCommerce installed. And so there was some backlash there.

So. the controversy is over the WordPress contributors have [00:02:00] undone, they have reverted the button and it's no longer there. But I think there's, they're coming up with a way to actually set some dependencies. Maybe if you need WooCommerce installed, maybe if you need like gravity forms installed for this plugin to work or whatever, I think they're allowing some of those things to happen in the background.

And so if they're interested in kind of the saga, there's a link to the WP Tavern post so you can read all about it. The other controversy thing that happened over the last week and a half or so was about a new theme called Ollie.

And this was a theme that was a full site editing theme, a block theme if you will. And it had this onboarding sequence. So it helped customers or it helped people once they installed the theme walk through the process of setting up this theme. And it got rejected by the WordPress repository. The theme review team because they said that was too much like a plugin because it had that plugin type features and they don't want that in a theme.

A theme should just be the visual styles of what your website looks like. And so there was a whole controversy. Again, you can read the whole thing over on WP [00:03:00] Tavern. Basically, they allowed the theme in, but you have to install a plugin that has the onboarding thing. And the onboarding plugin isn't in the WordPress repository yet because of the lengthy time it takes to get all plugins reviewed, it is now on GitHub and so you can download it and then install.

So another kind of controversy, but I'm excited to see like where plugin developers and theme developers are kind of taking this and just helping people on board and make it easier for them to use the theme without having a bunch of extra bloat in the theme and just having that in a plugin. You can go through the optimizer or the the onboarding process, and then you can get rid of that plugin and you no longer need it.

All right. The plugin that I want to share today is called WooCommerce blocks, and this is very much like Gutenberg. How Gutenberg has the breaking edge, the leading edge, the newest stuff that's coming to WordPress. It's always in Gutenberg first, and then they put it into WordPress itself.

This is very much the same as what happens with WooCommerce. So if you're looking for some of the new features of WooCommerce, some of the cutting edge new things. Then install WooCommerce blocks. Is a very stable [00:04:00] plugin. It is one that's got more than 100, 000 active installs and it has some new blocks.

It's where they test these things. So some of the new blocks are you can do all products, you can show all reviews, you can feature a category, you can feature a product, you can filter by a whole bunch of things. It has the mini cart built in. So the mini cart that's up in the menu bar, it's got all of that.

You can select products by attribute category by tag. You can do reviews by category, reviews by product. There's just a bunch of stuff that's in there. So if you're interested, head on over to the WordPress repository. You can search for WooCommerce Blocks. You can get that plugin. You can find the link in the show notes for episode number 539.

And yeah, if you're using WooCommerce, I recommend at least checking it out just to see what kind of features are there and some of the things that are coming to WooCommerce in the future.

All right, let's talk about learning things. And so I'm always about learning things. And I'm the list of things that I have to learn is longer than I have time for in my entire lifetime and probably three more lifetimes after that.

But there's always things that we can be learning. There's always things that we want to we want to continue to grow our knowledge base. And honestly, it doesn't always have to [00:05:00] be WordPress. It doesn't always have to be code related. It can be anything, anything that you want at all, that you want to learn, whether you want to develop your mindset, maybe you want to develop your personal finances and you want to learn how to track that better.

Or in my case, what I've been learning lately is how to use Notion and Notion is a software tool that can almost replace like nine different software tools that I'm using currently. I'm going through the process of learning and I was like, this would be a great episode of the podcast because there is so much correlation between like how you learn how to use Notion and how you used WordPress.

So that's what I want to talk about today. So what I want to say, so I've got this broken down into a couple sections and I just want to kind of talk through a few of these things and just how to, in general, just learn something new. And I'll kind of tie it to WordPress and tie it to Notion at the same time.

So you first want to understand your purpose. What is the purpose of learning this new tool? For me, like when I'm learning Notion, like I want to be able to consolidate the tools that I'm using. I, I want to be able to not use Apple notes for things or old school. I have stuff in [00:06:00] Evernote that I need to bring over to Notion.

I want to be able to track like daily things. Like, how often do I do this or how often do kind of like a habit tracker? I want to pull that into Notion. I want to have all of the, Your Website Engineer podcasts in Notion, I want to keep a log of all of my workouts. I want to keep that in there. I want to keep an a log of like all my car maintenance.

I want to keep a lot like anything that I'm using other tools for. I want to keep a log of what TV shows I'm watching in movies and things like that. So I understand the purpose. The purpose is I want to consolidate a bunch of tools into one. Maybe with WordPress, it's the purpose is I'm trying to build a website or I'm trying to build a contact page or whatever the case may be.

You have to actually know your purpose so you can go forward and conquer and, you know, make progress.

I've done a lot of code tutorials, like just watching code tutorials like, Oh, that's really neat. And that's really neat. And just kind of follow the steps. And I built exactly what the person on the computer screen has built. But until you actually have a project yourself, I don't feel like you get a very good learning experience, right?

So if you're like, oh, well, I just need to follow this, this, this, this [00:07:00] step, then it's going to get me this perfect. But when you have to create something new or create something for yourself, then you're like, oh, well, I can't follow those steps. Now I need to do this. And now I have a problem. Like, how am I going to get to this problem?

And how am I going to fix this? And so then you're kind of in that research phase and that research phase is just looking for are there, there are other software tools that are out there? There are other tutorials that you can watch. Can you go to YouTube? Can you read other people's blogs like that are trying to do the same thing?

So for example, for me, for Notion, I was trying to figure out how to set up a daily journal. I want to be able to log in a journal, like different activities for the day. Did I do this? Do I do this? Do I do this? What was my sleep score for the day? How does that correlate? What kind of notes did I take for the day?

Is there any pictures that I want to share from today? I wanted to learn all of these things. So the first one was like, how do I do daily habit tracking? So I looked at a YouTube video, daily habit tracking, and okay. I see how they built that into a journal or into a database inside of Notion.

And then I kind of followed those steps to go through and create my own journal with those exact records in the database. [00:08:00] And so you just have to kind of like keep looking for tutorials. And like I said, blog posts, people sometimes have courses. There could be a full on course about how to use notion or how to use WordPress or how to use Figma or SketchUp or any of these new tools.

Those are the things that you want to kind of watch. And you can go through this research phase and maybe you've already learned how to use the tool a little bit at the beginning. Oh, I know how to use Notion. I know how to do this and that. And so then you can skip forward and get to the point and get to the part that you really, really want to learn.

The next thing in my list here is you really need some hands on practice. So for example, like, oh, I want to set up this new journal. Okay, great. I'm going to set up a new journal inside a notion and I'm going to do it. And then yeah. Oh, I watched this tutorial and it's like you could create a template.

Oh, well, I need to create a template now. Now I'm creating a template and within Notion, you can have the template automatically generated every day. Okay. How do I do that now? I have to go over here and do it on my own. So it's a lot of like watching. Oh, now I have to do this on my own. I'm going to watch and then I'm going to do it on my own.

And I think that really cements it in your brain. It allows you to really [00:09:00] learn in. It really understand like, Oh, how do I add a new block to WordPress? Like, Oh, I go up to here and I click this button. Or if I just hit enter and then I start slash and then typing, I can add a block or, you know, there's lots of different ways to do things.

And it's all about, okay, I watch and now I do, I watch and then I do. And that really helps the neurological pathways inside your brain to remember how to do it the next time that you need to do. Also, sometimes you have to break it down.

Maybe, I have this big project. I want to create this whole landing page in WordPress to capture emails, but then I also want to sell a product and I want to have all this stuff. Okay, we got to break it down into these different sections, and I'm going to add this section, and then I'm going to look at it.

I'm going to publish it. Does it look okay? Okay, great. Let me add the next part. Does that look okay? Yep, great. Oh, I want to change the background. Let me go. do that. And so you just kind of break it down into smaller steps and incrementally get closer to the end goal whatever that may be.

This one hasn't come up a lot, but a lot of times maybe you need to seek help or feedback that that's what support forums are for. That's for, you know, if you're using figma or any of these paid tools like they have a support forum, they have a contact [00:10:00] button. A lot of times I'll try to do a live chat if that's an option.

I love doing live chats just to ask like, oh, I'm trying to do this or why doesn't that work? Or can you help me fix this? And I think that sometimes it helps you get past that roadblock, right? I, a lot of times we'll open up live chat and say like, I'm starting to chat. And while I'm waiting for the person to answer my question, I will continue working on it.

And then hopefully by the time that somebody comes online to help, I'm like, oh, I got it. Just don't worry. I've, I've taken care of it and I understand what I need to do. And so sometimes you do need help. Sometimes you need to have help and seek for feedback to make sure that you can make the progress that you need.

And then the last one is basically just consistency and patience. We want to continue to add this to your routine. Like if I'm going to start journaling every day, like I'm going to go into Notion and make sure that I add my sleep score every day. And I want to make sure that I've checked off, okay, the years of my habits that I've done.

And maybe I'm going to start to make that a practice at the end of the day. Okay. Now I'm starting to do that and I'm like, Oh, well I'd really like to add this to my journal.

So I'll go and update the template and then every time I use the template, then it's going to continue [00:11:00] to have this new information. It kind of like if you create a pattern like we've talked about in the past couple weeks, you create a pattern. You're like, Oh, well, I really like to add this.

So you go in and you edit the pattern, and then the next time you use it, it's already going to be set up and ready for you to go. And so sometimes it's going to take some patience. It's going to take some recognition of like, oh, I can improve this. Oh, I can improve this. We're not going to get to the point where when we're using WordPress blocks for the very first time, you're like, oh, well, I can do this way faster.

Like after you do it once. Right. You're going to have to do it multiple times. You're like, Oh, this is really a pain. How can I automate this? How can I make it faster? How can I do this without having all of these extra clicks and these extra things around? So those are some things to think about.

It's going to take some patience. Learning is not easy. I wish it was. I wish you could just like watch one tutorial and then it's all in your brain and you could just start using it. Like I'm going to watch this tutorial and React and then I'm just going to know how to use React. Like it doesn't work like that.

It's, there's a lot of patience, there's a lot of consistency, there's a lot of asking for help and asking for feedback, it's a frustrating process sometimes, but it is really, really good. So in the grand scheme of things, like it's hard, but then look back, you know, two weeks later, you're like, wow, I didn't [00:12:00] know how to do this two weeks ago, but I do now.

And so I'm taking all of these learnings and kind of these steps as I'm learning Notion how I'm trying to optimize a bunch of the software tools I'm using. But this can go towards anything that you're trying to learn. And I don't even think it's just software based. Like if you're trying to learn a woodworking skill or you're trying to learn to roller blade or whatever the case may be, like there's always going to be hands on practice.

There's always going to be breaking it down. You're always going to seek help and feedback and you're going to have to be consistent and be patient. So that's what I want to share with you today. All about how I learn how I break down the steps of trying to learn something new. And yeah, that's what I want to share today.

Take care. And we'll talk again soon. Bye bye. For more great WordPress information, head on over to your website, engineer. com.