First of all, learning algorithms is orthogonal to learning any particular programming language, and spending time on algorithms is never wasted - in short, better knowledge of all sorts of algorithms makes you a better programmer overall, period.
Apart from that, you seem to be struggling with two independent problems: learning Python, and learning programming. How you approach learning both is highly dependent on where you stand regarding either, as well as what does and doesn't work for you.
That said, I've found the following approach works well when learning a new technology:
- Do a bit of preliminary reading: the wikipedia page, the project homepage, the official documentation; get an idea what it is about and how the community ticks.
- Install the toolchain, find a good introductory tutorial that matches your style, and play around with it. Make a few super-tiny programs, something that is sort of kind of useful, but most importantly, something you can finish in about an hour or so. Also make sure you have a complete authoritative reference guide at hand.
- Once you get the hang of the language basics, you should have a rough idea of what the language is good at and what not. Pick a project that the language is very suitable for, and start working on it. Get in touch with the community: they'll provide you with invaluable insights and tips.
- Throw away your first project and start from scratch. Really. The first project you build in any language is usually crap; that's fine, you did it for the learning experience, and you'll get half of it wrong. This is why you do it again, but this time, you do it better and more in line with the language's accepted conventions, standards and idiosyncrasies.
- Practice, practice, practice. Keep in touch with the community. Experiment. Read other people's code. Have others read your code. Keep an eye on new developments. And most of all, have fun.
Just like with natural languages, my experience is that nothing beats actual hands-on real-world exposure. You will never learn it if you don't use it a lot.