Learn how to improve with these resources

In this article, I would like to recommend some non-technical resources that have helped me become a more effective learner, set better goals and improve my focus, creativity and communication skills.

silhouette of person jumping under tree
Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Learning How To Learn

Online course at Coursera

  • Background: This is one of the best courses out there and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to become a more effective learner.
  • Length: Less than 10 hours of content
  • Takeaways:
    • Taking breaks (and activating the “diffuse” mode) helps you to solve problems
    • Changing your learning environment stimulates the brain
    • Procrastination can be overcome by taking the first step
    • Writing things down can free up your working memory

The Tim Ferriss Show


  • Background: I love listening to this podcast. My favourites so far include Susan Garrett (dog trainer), Cal Fussman (author and journalist), Debbie Millman (designer) and Drew Houston (founder of Dropbox).
  • Length: approx. 2 hours each.
  • Takeaways:
    • Seek uncomfortable challenges
    • Keep a daily appreciation journal
    • You are the average of the people you spend the most time with
    • So many more

The Compound Effect — Darren Hardy


  • Background: The idea behind this book is that results compound exponentially over time. An example would be to do one minute extra of exercise a day to improve health exponentially in the long-term.
  • Length: 162 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • Take 100% responsibility for what happens in your life
    • Tracking progress leads to success.

Never Split the Difference — Chris Voss


  • Background: I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to improve their negotiation skills. In this book, Chriss Voss shares the lessons he learned as a hostage negotiator for the FBI.
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • Label the other person’s pain
    • Be wary of “Yes”
    • A smile on your face (and in your voice) can improve your mental agility

Originals — Adam Grant


  • Background: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in knowing what it takes to be original.
  • Length: 326 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • There is a correlation between quantity and quality when generating new ideas
    • You don’t have to take unnecessary risk to be original

Deep Work — Cal Newport


  • Background: I would recommend this book to everyone because I think we all need to improve our focus in a world full of distraction.
  • Length: 326 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • Avoid multitasking
    • Practice being bored
    • Take breaks to improve focus

The Asshole Survival Guide — Robert I. Sutton


  • Background: This book is a valuable read for anyone who has to deal with different levels of jerks in their life.
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • Assholes attract Assholes
    • Negative behaviours are more difficult to stop than positive ones
    • It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end

Crucial Conversations - Kerry Patterson et al.


  • Background: I would recommend this book to everyone. Each tip in this book has helped improve my conversation skills immensely.
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • In a heated moment ask yourself ‘What do I really want?’ This turns down the primitive fight or flight reactions and reminds us of our goal instead of trying to win or cause pain.
    • To respect someone you don’t respect you need to look for similarities
    • Whether we realise it or not, we are telling ourselves stories
    • Facts lay the groundwork for all delicate conversations
    • Don’t allow people to assume that the dialogue is the decision

Factfulness - Hans Rosling et al.


  • Background: This book changed my perspective about the world
  • Length: 342 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • Don’t assume people are idiots. Ask yourself: ‘How could this be a smart solution?’
    • Don’t confuse no change with small change
    • Cultures change over time but it’s often forgotten how they were
    • If you blame the bad guy you are done with thinking
    • If you can’t track progress, you don’t know whether your actions are working

The Science of Well-Being - Yale

Online Course at Coursera

  • Background: This course taught me about the research behind happiness
  • Length: A few hours of content plus exercises
  • Takeaways:
    • If you have a bad feeling about something in the future ask yourself ‘What else might be happening at the time?’
    • Investing in experiences makes us happier than investing in stuff
    • We can learn to savour happy moments by writing or telling someone about it
    • People who prioritise time over money are happier on average
    • Exercise
    • Sleep
    • Meditate

Creative Confidence - Tom Kelley and David Kelley


  • Background: This book helped me how to become more creative
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • Creative people simply do more experiments
    • Label an idea as an experiment
    • You have to make an effort to turn creativity into a habit
    • To reach a creative breakthrough you just need to start
    • Do a bad job first
    • Don’t let circumstances determine your fate

Super Thinking - Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann


  • Background: This book gave me a new set of tools to help me perceive common situations more clearly
  • Length: 354 pages
  • Takeaways:
    • When people seem to be doing harm it is often because they took the path of least resistance
    • Be wary of intuition in unfamiliar situations
    • As organisations get larger they tend to use the irreversible decision-making process for reversible decisions
    • Ben Franklin: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”
    • Be wary of the discount rate (ie. how outcomes are worth less far in the future)
    • Be wary of hindsight bias (especially to others). Not all events are predictable
    • Ideation is a maze


  • November, 2020: Added Super Thnking
  • October, 2020: Added Factfulness
  • August, 2020: Added Crucial Conversations
  • September, 2018: Added Asshole Survival Guide
  • September, 2017: Originally published


Thanks for visiting Learn it my way! I created this website so I could share my learning experiences as a self-taught software developer. Subscribe to for the latest content if this interests you!

Profile pic


Thanks for visiting Learn it my way! I created this website so I could share my learning experiences as a self-taught software developer. Subscribe to for the latest content if this interests you!