Positioning yourself correctly to become a world class programmer will include the following practices:
- Code every day.
I have come to an understanding that it is a matter of compounding practice. When you practice for hours and hours and hours, you gain considerable skill.
No amount of reading articles or watching video tutorials can substitute for practice.
2. Learn how to sell.
Selling has become a growing skill and it is fast rubbing off on the tech world.
This is because a major part a programmer’s job is to work with people, negotiate and sell yourself and your ideas. Writing code becomes a smaller and smaller part of the job over time.
3. Write frequently.
Writing is a good skill that helps you document your progress as a beginner and showcase your skills or help newbies as an expert programmer.
One of the huge benefit of writing is that you become more confident as a developer, and as a writer.
Tips to stay mentally balanced
Becoming a world class programmer is no easy job, that’s why you need to take care of yourself. Check out the tips I’ve combined below to help you stay mentally balanced.
- Get a sound night sleep: For many people like myself, the reverse used to be case.
I thought staying awake all night when it’s all quiet would enable me learn and practice more, but coding is mentally exhausting and not having a sound sleep has been said to reduce mental energy.
2. Work out. Sitting in a chair for 5 solid hours is physically demanding. I started moving around for 5-10 minutes after sitting for 2hrs and it really helps.
Research has shown that light workout also helps in stimulating brain cells.
3. Don’t overdo it: Some months ago, I spoke with Taofeek Wahab, my childhood friend and a full stack engineer, (@wahabtaofeeqo on Twitter ) who told me:
“You better be careful about the coder’s paradise. The coder’s paradise is a mental state where nothing but code exists. You feel focused. You feel like you’re racing! You’re not. Like a race horse, you’re wearing blinders that prevent you from seeing what is going on around you. During this state it’s okay if you just take a break and walk away”
But why walk away when I am in my most active mode to write codes, you might want to ask?
I kept asking myself the same question until I finally understood why. This one’s from personal experience. I like hitting on a problem until it is fixed. Quitting in the middle feels like giving up. It feels like failure. The irony is that when I walk away, the quiet part of my brain has a chance to whisper some really good ideas to me. Ideas that solve the problem without wrecking the code. This happens when I enter ‘The Coder’s paradise’ and step out;
4. Be on good terms with your loved ones: Nothing kills creativity more than worrying if your partner (wife or girlfriend) is going to leave you or if your children will grow up to hate you because you barely have time for them. One time, when I was to serve as an intern for a tech company, the senior developer asked me: “Are you ready to lose your girlfriend?. I smiled in surprised but later understood what he meant.
Coding is demanding. Coding is addictive. You’ll be tempted to spend every waking hour thinking about it or fiddling with some new idea. There’s a time and place for that and it comes after your family or loved ones.
5. You’ll never know everything so don’t even try: I remember back then when I learnt HTML in secondary school and then few years later HTML5 came and here we are. Last week, I saw a tweet of a soon-to-come HTML6. Keeping up with the pace in which technology is evolving is near impossible. Know what you need to know and know it well. Then, dig a little bit deeper.
6. Work in a quiet pl`ace: Wear headphones if your work space is noisy.
I personally never listen to music as I find it more distracting than helpful but I know a programmer from the East who writes good code while listening to Igbo highlife musicians like Osadebe and Oliver de Coque.
With all that in mind, I hope you’ll approach your programming career from a different perspective, from this day onward.
Yours in learning,