Are you constantly watching tutorial after tutorial and feel like you aren’t remembering anything? Well, that is actually very common and a lot of developers go through it. It is called tutorial purgatory. Some people think that dozens and dozens of different tutorials will cause them to just soak in the material and one day they’ll wake up and remember it all. That simply isn’t that case. A big problem when people start going through tutorials is that they don’t really have a direction of where they want to go. You may want to learn web development. So, you search up learning web development, find a tutorial, do the tutorial, and forget most, if not everything, of what you learned by the next day.

I want to preface by saying that tutorials are very good in helping you learn how to do things that you don’t know. We do go to school for a reason, after all. But, how do we get the most out of tutorials and get out of the cycle of constantly doing them over and over again. I wrote a blog about how to Get The Most Out of Programming Tutorials that accompanies this blog really well. However, I will still explain some solutions for getting out of tutorial purgatory.

How To Escape Tutorial Purgatory

Create a Roadmap

The first thing you need to do is create a roadmap of what you want to do. Do you want to be a web developer? Front-End or Back-End? Or a game developer? Whatever you want to do, create a plan of what you need to learn to achieve that goal. Roadmap.sh has GREAT roadmaps for web developers.

Future Resume

Now that you have a roadmap of how you want to achieve the developer that you want to become, you need to come up with a mock future resume. What types of projects do you want to create? Come up with a few projects and a list of what features you’d like those projects to have. Be creative and don’t limit yourself. The reason for this is explained later, but it will help make the tutorials more relevant.

Actively Learn

The most important step is to actively learn. Most people when they learn are just passively learning which isn’t very effective. Passive learning is when you simply go through the motions of copy/pasting code in the tutorial. Active learning is a process.

  1. Have projects in mind before starting the tutorial

Create a list of projects that you want to be able to create for your resume before starting tutorials. Then, you want to create a list of features for those projects. If you were to be creating Instagram, you’d want a way to save pictures, or filter & search for users. When you go through the tutorial and get to a part about filtering an array/list, it feels much more relevant and will help keep you interested.

2. Actively go through the tutorial

When going through the tutorial, write good notes and actively work on your projects that you made a list of earlier. It will make the lessons feel relevant and will help you remember them better. Also, this will help you with actual coding practice. Actually creating projects is one of the best ways to learn to program. This method of building onto your projects as you learn the material will help keep it fresh.

3. Start to create more projects after the tutorial

Let’s say you had a project in mind for your tutorial and you created it. Wonderful! Now use that knowledge to create another project. Even if you didn’t have it in mind before, you can always use that knowledge to build another project. This will help you remember what you learned and gives you the experience of actually developing something from scratch!

Tutorial purgatory is a real thing and can actually be difficult to get out of if you don’t look for and follow the solutions to help fix it. My solutions may not work for everybody, but I hope it gets you thinking about how you are learning and how you can improve it.

Software Engineer | React | Redux | JavaScript | Ruby on Rails