When you get started with programming it's exciting. There is no greater feeling than this, you feel like the luckiest person in the world. Nothing can stop you know. Fast forward to one month, you're just overwhelmed with all the advice that you keep receiving and all the advice that's out there. Trust me, I know the feeling. This was me 5 months ago.
During this time, I have tested and saw what matters and what doesn't, here are 5 habits you need to build as early as you start your journey so as to be a great developer. Don't worry, even if you're an experienced developer, building these habits will help you a lot in the long run.
This is a no-brainer, you have to code everyday. But it's easier said than done. One day you're all hyped up and code for 4 hours and the next day you just sit there not feeling like coding anything. Don't do this!
It's better to code 15 minutes everyday rather than code 4 hours one day and the next day you do nothing. Getting started with this habit is hard, but you have to do it.
One way that helped me do it is by participating in the 100DaysOfCode Challenge
100 Days of Code is a challenge/community, where you publicly commit to code for 1 hour for the next 100 days
It doesn't have to be 1 hour, it can be as little as 15 minutes but what matters is you do it everyday.
If you want to know more about the challenge you can check it out here
Coding Along With The Tutorial
As a beginner, you will watch tutorials. You can't just code something you don't know or understand. You need to have basic knowledge before you can go off and code yourself. When watching tutorials, be sure to code along with the instructor. Don't just sit there and let your instructor do all the coding. The code may work for them, but it may raise errors for you. Don't just assume that you understood everything and the code will work just fine. Maybe the versions are different, so it may not work on your machine.
Also learning is an active process not a passive process
You can't learn to swim by reading swimming books. You have to go in the pool and try to swim, see where you make mistakes, and fix that
The same is true for coding. You have to code, see where you make mistakes, and fix that.
Joining A Community
This is not a habit per se but it is the best practice you could adopt as someone who is just getting into programming. Joining a community helps a lot. It helps get in touch with people who are learning just like you. It can also be a source of opportunities such as freelancing gigs and jobs.
I included this as a habit because you don't just join a community and sit there. You have to actively contribute to the community, thus a habit. And to build this habit, you have to contribute a lot. In time, it will just be normal to you.
There are many communities you can find out there but the best I have found so far is the Twitter community. People there are very supportive. If I didn't join Twitter when I started out, I would've quit the first month because of being alone. Interacting with others who are learning like me gave me hope and we kept each other accountable.
Solving Code Challenges
After you learn the basics, you have to put your skills to the test. You do this by solving code challenges. The more you solve, the better you get at it.
There are many websites out there that let you test your coding skills by completing challenges.
You can use the following websites to test your skills.
- Codewars (This is the one that I personally use)
- LeetCode(I hear about this a lot - It's worth a try)
Don't hate me now. I know many people, especially beginners get confused with documentation and they don't even want to hear about them but they are the official guide to a technology from the creators themselves. It's like a constitution of a country from the government official themselves. It can save you hours of debugging by just reading the documentation. Yes! It's that important!
But if that's not enough to convince you, listen to this.
Any tutorial you watch, from anyone, its root is from the official documentation of that technology. They may have seen another tutorial but all those tutorials originated from the official documentation.
That's the role of documentation.
The official documentation is the root of all the tutorials
Here are a few documentations to get you started
- Python Documentation
- Django Documentation
- React Documentation
- Angular Documentation
Bonus: Building These Habits
The habits are all there, now the hard part is building these habits.
I don't want to tell you just what to do, I want to tell you how to do it
The Bitter Truth
You can't build all these habits in a few weeks. The saying good things take time also applies here.
1. You Have To Be Patient
First of all, you have to set yourself mentally. Tell yourself that this is going to take time and not just a few days. The first few days you're going to miss doing these habits a lot, so don't be too hard on yourself.
A mistake most people make is quitting after a few months if they don't see results. Don't quit! Please!
This is what happens when you're building a new habit Just keep going on! You can do it!!
2. Change Your Identity
This is the best way to build new habits. Change your inner identity. Don't just be a person who does a certain action, but a person whose beliefs lie in a certain action.
Here's an example; Change from "I don't smoke" to "I am not a smoker"
In the above habits, this can be applied as follows;
- "I want to code everyday" to "I am a coder "
Coders code everyday
- "I want to code along with the tutorial" to "I am an active learner"
Active learners code along
- "I want to contribute to the community" to "I am a community member"
Community members contribute to the community
- "I want to solve code challenges" to "I am a problem solver"
Problem solvers solve challenges
- "I want to read the documentation" to "I am a documentation reader"
Yes! They read documentation
I believe that these habits can really make huge differences in developers' lives, especially the ones starting out. I urge you to try them out and see how your life changes.
Don't hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter.
I hope this article is useful to you. If it was, please share it. It really makes a huge difference to me.
Thanks for reading & Keep Coding!!