In 2011 I joined a small ad agency and moved from a team of 4 developers to a team of 1 developer. Just me.
If you've ever worked on a small team or by yourself you know how challenging it can be to learn & improve. You'll be able to get by just fine but you know there are smarter and faster ways of doing things. And every day you feel farther and farther behind.
It only took a couple months of this before I forced something to change. I started a WordPress meetup group. And in one of the very first meetings someone talked about backing up your site.
I started backing up my sites the very next week. And then you'll never guess what happened. A week later we got hacked. Hardcore. Viagra images all over the “site”. Not good.
And thanks to my backup I had it cleaned up in less than an hour.
Small Continuous Improvements
I've always loved learning but this experience made me realize the importance of continuous learning. That you might not know what you need to know. And there's value in learning every single day.
If you spend an hour a day to learn a new skill or to practice that skill you'll very quickly be more productive and get more work done.
I actually ran the numbers.
In 15 weeks (<4 months) you'll be able to work 35 hours a week and be as productive as someone who works 40 hours a week.
In 28 weeks (7 months) you'll have done just as much work as someone who didn't spend anytime learning and spent all that extra time working. You'll also be outputting 45 hours of work in just 35 hours.
In 52 weeks (1 year) you'll be putting out 58 hours of work a week. And you'll have done and extra 7 weeks of work.
In 104 weeks (2 years) you'll have done an extra 2,191 hours, or 54 weeks, of work.
So if you spend an hour a day learning. You'll get 3 years worth of work done in 2. Pretty amazing right?
Always Be Learning
I love meetup groups but the topics are rarely what I need right at that moment. Which means that I learn but I don't put it into practice and I quickly forget.
If you're on the fence about learning let me just share
Week 1 & 2. You get your first client and they ask for a WordPress website. You take WordPress Essential Training. This is a long course and there's a lot to cover so it might take you two weeks to take the course and to implement all the principles.
Week 3. Your client says they want a contact form so their customers can reach out to them. You take WordPress Plugins: Contact Forms to learn about three different contact forms and you pick the best one for your client.
Week 4. There have been a few miscommunications between you and your client. You take Project Management Fundamentals so you can have better relations with clients and keep those clients longer.
Week 5 & 6. Your client says they want to pay you to help them rank higher in Google. You take WordPress Plugins: SEO & WordPress Plugins: Analytics. This way you can measure & improve your client's SEO.
Week 7 & 8. Now that you have the technical knowledge you want to know all the concepts & theory behind SEO. You take SEO Fundamentals. This is a large course and there's a lot to digest so it takes 2 weeks to get through.
Week 9 & 10. You're first client is pretty happy with their site and all the things that did to help it rank. There's ongoing work with the client but it's now time to get more clients. You take Freelancing Fundamentals to help you attract more clients.
Week 11. You get a new client who wants to have a new custom theme. You take WordPress and Genesis: Building Child Themes from Scratch to learn how to customize every single element of the theme.
Week 12. The client wants to sell items on their site and they ask for your recommendation. You take WordPress Ecommerce (my course!) and you make a recommendation that's perfect for your client.
Week 13 & 14. The client asks you to build this site for them. And you take WordPress Ecommerce WooCommerce. to learn everything you can about the plugin to help you set it up.
Week 15. The client wants to customize some of the e-commerce functionality on your site. You takeWordPress: Customizing WooCommerce Themes (my course) to customize every detail of their e-commerce portion of their site.
Week 16. You start getting more requests than you can handle. You take Hiring Your Team to start to grow your business beyond just yourself.
Learn Every Day
This is just 4 months. There's are thousands of courses. Imagine if you did this every day for two or three years.
You have a free week of courses on Lynda.com right now. No harm in not trying it out.