No matter if you’ve been in programming for a few weeks or a few decades, I’m sure you’ll know that it’s an industry where you need to always be on your toes and learning new things. Code is constantly evolving, and technology is developing at a breakneck speed- so it’s vital that you’re on top of your game at all times. In this article, I’m going to tell you what the best habits for programmers are.
It can be hard to do this though, especially if you’ve been in your current position for a while. Why bother learning new techniques or rituals if what you’re doing has been working for the last decade? I firmly believe that it’s crucial to your development as a person and as a programmer to keep learning and evolving along with your industry.
In this article, we will be having a look at the most effective habits and behaviors that you should be picking up as a programmer. They range from obvious, common-sense habits to more obscure and personal habits- but all of them will help you get ahead in your field. Of course, they’ll all be applicable in different ways to different people, but there should be at least a few in here that jump out at you when you’re reading.
A willingness to try new things
To start with, one of the best traits that you can pick up and have as a programmer is a willingness to try new things. To develop your craft and yourself as a person, you’re going to need to be able to step outside of your comfort zone and look at your world with fresh eyes.
This can be taken a number of ways, too. Firstly, this can apply directly to your work. Being able to try out new techniques and tricks to overcome problems with your code is essential to doing well. After all, how will you overcome any issues if you just keep throwing the same thing at your work and expecting it to stick?
If you are struggling with overcoming a particular issue with your work, try to use all of your resources. Get online, and see if anyone’s been having any of the same issues as you. Speak to your colleagues and your friends to see if they’ve ever encountered the same things. Watch a YouTube tutorial, read a book or speak to your clients- whatever you need to do to refresh your mind and your perspective, make sure that you do it.
Train your Brain
A willingness to try new things can (and should) also apply to you as a person. It’s very easy to stick to what you know. You could speak to the same people, wear the same clothes, eat the same food and read the same books for the rest of your life; and I’m sure you’d be OK. But if you want to expand your mind and evolve as a person, then trying out new things is the best way to do this. Go for lunch in that weird little cafe that just popped up in town, or grab drinks with those colleagues that you weren’t sure about. Watch a documentary about occult magic, or read a book about how to speak Spanish. Learning new things is the same as training your muscles. It forces your brain to create new neural pathways and can help you to become a much more interesting person over time, too.
Another great habit to have as a programmer is the ability to work cooperatively. This may sound counter-intuitive to a lot of people reading this, as coding tends to seem like quite a solitary activity. I don’t mean that you should have multiple people using the keyboard at once, of course. What I mean by this is that you should be able to brainstorm, generate ideas and get useful feedback from the people around you.
Being able to bounce ideas off of people is one of the best traits to have as a creative person; and coding is creative, contrary to what some people might think. Simply having the opportunity to ask people around you what they think of your project and your idea is one of the best tools that you can have in the workplace.
This can also be very helpful for problem-solving. If you work in a team, why not ask your colleagues for help if you’re struggling? There’s no shame in asking somebody for a hand; it’s one of the most effective ways to learn. If you’re a solo entrepreneur or freelancer, try getting involved with online communities and starting up discussions in that way.
Something else that you should constantly be striving for as a programmer – and in any profession, really – is a good level of proactiveness. I know personally, I’m not great at always taking the initiative at work when I need to speak up and get things done. It’s a skill that takes time, and it’s certainly one that’s worth your time.
One key way that you can improve upon your existing levels of proactiveness is to stop ignoring problems. It can be tempting to sweep things under the rug; after all, no one will notice, right? But this isn’t a good way of thinking and it will often come back to bite you in the end. Simply taking the initiative to face issues in your daily life will help save you time, effort and stress in the long run.
Another way to become more proactive in your work is to frequently spend some time-solving problems in your workplace. Office culture can make it quite easy to complain about things without actually solving them, but finding a solution can help encourage you to become more proactive overall.
This point may not be such an obvious one, but self-care is incredibly important for succeeding at work and feeling fulfilled in your career. If you don’t give yourself time to breathe and step outside of your office or workplace, you will find yourself getting quickly getting burnt out and unhappy with what you’re doing.
The best advice that I can give here is to always prioritize your mental health and to take adequate breaks. This may seem hard, especially if you’ve got a big project or workload at the moment. Taking breaks will improve the quality of your work overall though, and it will help keep your anxiety and stress levels down. Don’t skip your lunch break, and make sure to take a step away from your screen; it will do you a world of good, I promise.
Something that could help you would be working with timers. Try looking on your phone’s application store to see if there are any productivity timer apps that you like- they’re very handy for managing your time and giving yourself adequate breaks.
Find a creative outlet
Another great way to practice self-care in your daily life is to find a creative outlet or hobby that you can do outside of work. As much as coding might be a creative, problem-solving based skill, having another hobby to put your soul into can be a fantastic way to help manage your stress levels and keep yourself happy. This could be something like painting or drawing, or it could be something like dance or cooking. It doesn’t have to be anything specific, just something creative that you enjoy doing.
Overall, make sure that you are prioritizing yourself when it comes to working. This can be tricky if you’re working with deadlines, but your mental health should always be your first thought.
Strategic thinking and planning ahead
Another key habit that you should be striving to pick up as a programmer is the ability to always be thinking forwards and planning ahead. Programming isn’t the sort of industry where you can just coast along and hope for the best; in order to really succeed, you need to have a solid plan on how to get through of all of your projects.
A great way to help yourself do this is to invest in a planner, schedule app or diary. Having visual cues to help yourself keep on top of your projects and deadlines is a great way to block out your time effectively. Sure, you can get by without doing this- but I guarantee that you will feel better and more in control if you have a visual plan in front of you.
Something else that you can do here is to make sure that you fully understand your current project and what people are expecting you to do. I’m sure we’ve all been there; pressing send on a final piece of work, only to get back a passive aggressive email hours later saying that it’s incomplete. Clarifying objectives can help you plan your time more effectively and minimize your stress levels, too.
A final trait that you should be leaning towards as a program is the desire to always keep learning. This may sound like a cliche, but it’s undoubtedly true. How else can you progress in such a competitive and fast-paced industry? In order to succeed as a programmer, you’re going to need to take every chance that you can get to become better at what you do.
Like I said earlier, it can be very easy to stick to what you know. This isn’t a good way to progress in your career or as a person, though. Try to push yourself past your comfort zone and learn new things in your day to day working life. Teach yourself a new coding language, for example, or take an online course about your current project. Consistent, small changes and lessons will help add up to make a huge difference in your life.
To sum up, there’s plenty of traits and habits that you can – and should – be trying to pick up as a programmer. It’s a highly competitive, fast-paced and creative industry, so in order to stand out, you’re going to need to take every opportunity that you can get.
Make sure that you’re always trying to learn new things and better yourself, in order to develop your craft more. Work with your colleagues and your peers, and share your concerns with them if you’re struggling with a project. Keep learning, acting proactively and above all, keep yourself in good condition and health. If you can do all of these things, then I’m sure that you’ll begin to see a hugely positive change in your career.