There was a poignant tweet recently from a new Roam user about the feelings of shame, stupidity and worthlessness that he felt when he started to use Roam.
I’m sure that many Roam users will identify with these feelings — although probably not with this intensity. So, I thought it might be useful to write about three strategies I’ve found useful in dealing with the psychological dimension of learning Roam.
1. Use self-to-self comparisons rather than self-to-other comparisons
Self-to-other comparisons often end up being toxic. When you are a beginner or an intermediate user at something, comparing yourself to an expert user can be profoundly disempowering.
The gap between where you are and where the expert is can seem so huge and unbridgeable that it can be easy to feel like giving up.
It is important to make Roam your servant rather than your master. Roam is there to help you achieve your goals, whether it be getting tasks done more efficiently, developing new ideas, identifying useful patterns in your life or managing information more effectively.
So, the real test for judging Roam on is how well it allows you to make progress towards your objectives — and not on whether you are ever going to be able to match the skills of particular expert Roam users.
Therefore, a more helpful comparison is to compare where you are now with where you were — in terms of both making progress in learning Roam and making progress toward your goals.
And Roam is a wonderful tool to use for assessing progress in your life!
2. Manage your learning objectives carefully
Co-founder Conor White-Sullivan has often said that Roam has a low floor and a high ceiling. The low floor means that it is easy to get started with Roam; the high ceiling means that you can do incredibly complex work with it.
Some people make the mistake of initially aiming too high. To be able to touch the ceiling requires learning the wide feature set of Roam and how to implement these features in complex workflows and systems. And that can often prove overwhelming to beginners.
So, if you are beginning to learn Roam, it is important to start with manageable learning objectives.
We’re developing a Roam onboarding process for RoamStack members at the moment. But, in the meantime, here are two useful resources.
Conor White-Sullivan has distilled the essence of Roam into two simple parts — and this provides a powerful starting point for any Roam beginner.
Secondly, RoamHacker in his Back to the Basics tweet thread has identified some key basic features for Roam learners to master — and then goes on to provide a few more advanced features too.
Learning Roam should be a marathon, not a sprint. What’s even better, with this particular marathon, you can walk it when you feel like it, take as many breaks as you want to and stop when you feel you’ve done enough.
3. Manage your inputs carefully
There is so much going on in Roamworld; new features, new plugins, new articles, new tutorials and new courses. And there are also a wide variety of places you can get information about Roam: Twitter, the Roam Slack, the Roam forum, the Reddit forum etc.
All of that is a great advertisement for the vibrancy of the Roam ecosystem. But it can also provide another source of overwhelm.
If you’re learning to use Roam, you don’t necessarily need to keep up-to-date with everything that is happening — or to try lots of new things out. It makes sense to limit your information sources — and to focus on learning the basics first.
For me, the whole purpose of Roam is to make people feel more empowered in their thinking, creating and organizing. So, it feels sad if learning Roam actually leads to people feeling disempowered.
Hopefully, learning to play the inner game of Roam more effectively will help you get the most out of Roam without feeling overwhelm or discomfort.