Learning during down time

I have been watching PluralSight like it is Netflix on Steroids over the past couple of days. I wish I would have started this little habit a couple of weeks ago. But.. I have started now and here we are.

The subscription to Pluralsight has been something I have used for years - although not as regularly as I should have for the cost of the service, but that is not the point. It renewed recently and is certainly a great place to start with the “Learn ALL the Things” initiative I have found myself wrapped up in as of late.

Yep. I am going to watch lots of content and read lots of things while trying to do the next big thing and I am starting with Pluralsight because it is a paid service - that and watching videos about technology is better than binging the afforementioned Netflix - and when I watch videos my tech friends put out it is good for them too.

Subscribe to something that can make you better

This post isn’t an ad for any particular service - I promise - if you are into technology there is a ton of stuff on the Internet to help you get better at something you already know or better - learn something new.

The world we live in (even when it isn’t completely off the rails - thanks CoronaMurderHornets) is always moving. Chasing new skills helps keep all of us moving with it. When I started out in IT some years ago, I was convinced that I could just admin the shit out of some Windows boxes for a company and I would be all set.


Even in those days there was more technology around than I could possibly know. There were Enterprise Resource Planning applications, which had many applications or modules in them… I still don’t understand all of the accounting that goes into using applications like that. There were Customer Relationship Applications that were pretty much a giant Rolodex shared by the whole sales team/company/etc. (Please do not @ me if you are a SalesForce Nerd… I get it - the tools are WAY more than rolodexes… but c’mon).

Then there were printers, faxes, mail, office apps, logins, lockouts, and all kinds of other things. It was a miracle that all of the things stayed running as expected when trying to do all that alone.

A podcast, a video course service, free channels on YouTube - when you put these along side things you pickup during the work day, all they can do is make you better.

But I learned a ton of things

I was busy, and wanted to do anything but learn more things back in those days - but that’s the thing.. all of those things helped me to learn more technology. Learning more technology made me want to use and know more technology. See, it is a never ending cycle, an infinite loop and that is the best thing about technology. There’s always something that you can learn.

Suppose you have administered Active Directory for what feels like a century, the technology has not really changed all that much over the years - still users, groups, and the like. But there have been a bunch of advancements in how you can manage the technology - using PowerShell for AD proper, using PowerShell for Azure AD, and my personal favorite for on-premises AD - using the PowerShell commandlets for Exchange… for some reason, it is faster to create a mailbox for dschauland and drag a user account along than to create the user account in AD and add a mailbox… not sure what the science is there, but it saved me piles of time back when that was my thing.

All of the learning, even for technology I didn’t care about, has been valuable to me. Why? Because I can share it with others… maybe trade it for other learning is also appropriate.

Maybe I can learn something about how an application works from someone on the service desk. They touch pretty much everything at most companies and might have enough knowledge to get me started. If it is high level, that’s fine - getting started is still learning. If I can bring some small, but useful piece of information - something that might help them solve more tickets on the first touch. That is a win for everyone.

Learning happens everywhere - there are just 1000% more options today than there have ever been. Many of them do not cost very much (if anything) to use.

Learn by Sharing

Writing a blog, as often as you think of it is a good start. Maybe jot a note when you think of something that might help others, then carve out some time to dive in. That is usually how these posts get online, certainly not with the frequency I have in my head, but they get there eventually.

More Learn, less “and chill”

I do not think there should never be mindless television or downtime from technology. Far from it - TV ends up pulling me in more than it should too. But I also think that had I watched a couple of courses between seasons of Ozark, I’d be even further down the path to smartsville.

Am I always learning, yes - but not always watching courses or writing blogs (far less of that than I should be doing I fear). Make time for a life, but also keep time for skilling up as you move through your career - whatever your talent or skill set is, there is some knowledge out there yet to be discovered. If not - find some thing to add - trust me - more learning is ALWAYS a good thing.

Written on July 25, 2020