8 Tips for Professional Programmers

8 Tips for Professional Programmers

Working as a software developer can be quite lucrative, but it’s important to have the right mindset to succeed. The following eight tips will help you become more successful at your job and enjoy it more in the process.

8 Tips for Professional Programmers

8 Tips for Professional Programmers

1. Don’t be afraid to experiment

Getting your first job may be intimidating, but don’t worry—you’re not expected to know everything when you start. Showing off your experimentation skills can help you stand out from a pack of experienced developers. For example, if you’re working on a difficult programming problem, don’t be afraid to try every solution that comes to mind—even if it seems unlikely that it will work at first. You never know what might come in handy later.

2. When in doubt, sleep on it

Have a tough decision to make? Take some time to think it over before making a final decision. According to research, you’ll end up better off if you can put off your decision by as little as six hours. If you need more time, set an alarm and sleep on it. You might be surprised at how much clearer things seem in the morning. If you still don’t know what to do when you wake up, start with a hot shower.

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3. Always try new things

You don’t become a master of your craft by practicing what you already know, but by trying new things and challenging yourself. Be curious about different languages and platforms and try to learn something new every day—it’ll make you a better programmer in no time.

Here are some resources that can help: Learn JavaScript, JavaScript Fundamentals (Interactive), 10 Things Every JavaScript Developer Should Know, Introduction to Functional Programming with JavaScript (Online Course).

4. Have multiple projects going at once

We’re not just talking about writing code at work; we’re talking about how you approach your work in general. Do you have any side projects going on? Writing a book? Performing musicals? Recording albums? If so, be sure to block out time for them, too. Just because it doesn’t bring in money right now doesn’t mean it won’t lead to future opportunities.

5. Make time for yourself

One of my biggest secrets to avoiding burnout is making time to just relax. Sometimes that can be as simple as a walk outside, sitting in a park and listening to music, or going on vacation—but it’s important not to get caught up in work all of the time. All work and no play make you weak. So don’t forget to take some time off and have fun every once in a while.

I also find it helpful to disconnect from technology completely sometimes—it’s amazing how much your brain can recharge when you aren’t constantly staring at a screen. I like to do things like reading books, playing board games with friends, and going hiking whenever I feel like I need a break from programming.

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6. Stay curious about your field

In your career, you’ll constantly come across new technologies, frameworks, methodologies, and tools. It can be difficult to decide how best to add them to your skillset.

This is why it’s so important to stay curious about all aspects of your field—learning just a little bit about everything around you will help you make better decisions about what you should focus on next.

7. Set goals and write them down

It’s hard to reach goals when you don’t know what they are. It’s even harder to reach them when you forget about them or don’t update them as your life and career develop. Set realistic goals and be sure to write them down somewhere so you can track your progress. If you have a mentor, share your goals with him or her; having an outside perspective on where you want to go will help keep you accountable.

8. Surround yourself with smart people

One of my favorite pieces of advice I received early on in my career was to surround myself with smart people. This is a very easy way to grow professionally: The more you interact with intelligent, well-spoken people, the more you’ll pick up on what it means to be a professional and (at least in some measure) how to act like one. To find your local hacker group or programmers’ meetup and go hang out with other like-minded professionals.

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