15 Things I Wished I’d Learned Earlier as a Software Developer
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese proverb
15 Things I Wished I Learned Earlier as a Software Developer
Software development is a constant learning experience, but there are certain habits and tips that I wished I internalized earlier. Hopefully, these will be of help to any learning software developer to help you save time, frustration, and effort in the long run.
“Habits are not a finish line to be crossed, they are a lifestyle to be lived”
- James Clear
You’ll never know everything about anything.
Programming, algorithms, frameworks, libraries, they’re all too vast for any one person to understand the whole system. Swallow your ego and accept that you don’t know most of the things out there.
Learn how to use Git, properly.
The worst programmers are the ones who don’t actually know how to use git and don’t ask for help, messing up the git tree and causing hours of unnecessary work. Don’t be that guy, learn git.
Learn shortcuts in your IDE.
You’ll be surprised how much time you can save if you’re effective in your IDE. That means knowing where all the menu items are and shortcuts to the most common ones to spend less time having to click around and more time coding.
Stay physically active.
Coding is a very sedentary activity. Staying physically active, whether walking around for half an hour a day to going to the gym will do wonders for your productivity.
Plan before coding.
I see too many experienced developers rush head first into programming without doing the proper preparation to ensure that they aren’t wasting time. Yes, I understand that we’re software developers because we love coding, but some nice flowcharts, feature requirements, and other preparations can be done that’ll make the programming that much easier and faster.
For the love of God use a Linter
Style consistency is a big deal in any software application where you’re working with others. Using a linter is a great way to ensure that you write code that follows the latest and greatest standards.
Contribute to Open Source
I’ve written an entire article on why contributing to open source is good, but simply put it gets your name out there, gives you experience working on large projects, and hopefully makes you feel good about giving back to the community.
Stop binge watching tutorials and start coding
I’ve fallen into this trap many times myself, of constantly watching tutorial after tutorial but never taking the step of creating something. That chasm is one that has to be jumped, and once jumped, will make you feel so much better.
If you have time, blog!
Blogging is a great way to practice technical writing, get your name out there, and make people happy with great articles!
Create your developer portfolio
If you’re trying to get hired, or show off your skills to friends, a portfolio is essential. This is a fun weekend project that will make your life so much easier when trying to show others your developer talents.
Try to learn something new everyday!
Don’t ignore the power of compound habits. Think of how much more knowledge you’ll have in a year if you commit right now to learning something new daily!
Don’t take code critique personally
This is one that I struggle with myself, but when someone is criticizing your code, it’s not a personal attack. Have the matureness to step away and view what you’ve created from an unbiased view. It’ll help you write better and faster code as a developer.
Don’t compare yourself to those around you
Imposter syndrome is a big problem in the software developer community. Don’t make it worse by comparing your skills and talents to others. Everyone has unique experiences. Recognize that your path has led you to where you are today, and appreciate that!
Don’t be afraid to say No
Don’t overcommit yourself and be firm in your dedication to a singular focus. Don’t be afraid to turn down offers to work more, or on different projects, and prioritize yourself above your work.
Learn basic Devops
Devops, though often considered boring, is critical to building any kind of application. Take some time and learn the basics of how devops works so you can leverage it effectively for your next project.
Commit to learning these tips and you’ll see your value and productivity as a software developer drastically increase.
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