If you’re anything like me, you’ve been trained by the education system to learn the book before applying it. I’m slowly and gradually unlearning all that. The most convincing evidence for me to follow the opposite approach, doing, then learning, is that when I reverse engineer any of my successes, they follow the do-first pattern.

The goal is to do things quickly and accurately. While learning everything through making mistakes (the hard way) is often quite tempting, every subject requires a basic understanding that you can achieve quickly to avoid the most obvious errors. But be mindful of not falling into the perpetual learning trap, where you start learning and have lost all motivation before taking action or shipping anything tangible.

This strategy works incredibly well if you’re working in a creative space or building something new. Doing will give you the experience you need to make informed decisions in the future. And you’ll inevitably need to learn whatever knowledge and skills are necessary to progress.

The most effective way to learn something is to repeat it. So once you’ve shipped something and seen what worked and what could be improved, you can start building on that success by repeating the process and learning more about the subject. This experience will help you develop a deep understanding of it and can even lead to unforeseen a-ha moments that you may have missed if you’d only stuck to book knowledge.

Overall, if you’re looking to progress in any area, the most effective way to do so is to start with doing and learning on an as-needed basis. This approach will help you quickly apply the knowledge and hone your skills.

Start with doing, then learn on an as-needed basis.

Go get doing!

Reversing Education: Learning Through Doing