A software developer can always improve his or her skills, no matter what stage of their career they’re at. In the first of our seven-part series, we looked at what good developers do to advance their abilities away from the keyboard.
But the most experienced software developers know that there’s one key trait they always need to maintain. Staying motivated.
That’s easier said than done, and here are our tips on how you can keep your passion for development high and your focus on coding strong.
No matter what career, industry or sector you’re in, the advice is always the same. Niche. Niching helps you to narrow down and focus on one specific area, to become an expert in that field.
So, if you niche in an area you love – maybe you’re passionate about baking, committed to education causes or enthralled by winter sports – then you could become an expert developer in that field – and work within the industry you love every single day. That’s sure to keep you motivated.
Or you maybe you want to specialise in a specific language or a certain type of coding. Perhaps mobile development is your kettle of fish, or maybe you only want to work with financial databases – it doesn’t matter.
Find what you love and follow your passion.
We think it’s important to find a domain or sector you love and niche in that area, but we’re going to contradict ourselves here. Because although you should focus on a specialism, you also don’t want to be tied to just one way of coding.
You don’t want to be stuck with the same bag of tricks.
Focusing too much on one domain, one way of problem solving, will always limit your options. And you’re likely to get bored sooner or later and lose your motivation.
So, take the time to learn new languages and new programming paradigms. Branch out of your comfort zone. You’ll become a better software developer by learning to code in different ways, and you’re less likely to get stuck if you have a large array of tools in your toolkit.
There are plenty of tools, programs and even a few games online that will help you learn to code in a different language. But finding the time to do so can be a challenge. It won’t happen overnight.
You’ll probably already do some coding in your free time, but you don’t want to overdo it. You want to stay motivated.
So, ask for training time from your place of work.
Almost every manager and CEO knows that training and upskilling is important, but you might have to ask specifically and make your case.
Plan ahead. Know what you want to learn and how you’ll do it. And most importantly, clearly explain the benefits of you learning this new skill or language to your boss, so they know it’ll be worthwhile for the business.
In part one we talked about the importance of reading programming books, of watching developers online, of learning from others at meetups. But there’s a caveat to all that learning.
Don’t let it bog you down.
Don’t get hung up on the theory in a certain book, or in matching the perfection of a developer whose video you’ve watched.
Instead – just code. Just grab your keyboard, open a repository or even just a plain text editor, and write some code.
Sometimes all you need to stay motivated is part of a code in front of you, and you’ll just want to keep going to finish it. If you’re stuck, just play around.
Practice makes perfect as the cliché goes.
GitBreeze can help you there too. If you just want to get some code down and see what happens, it lets you preview commits and prevents accidental deletion. You can get a free 30 day trial here.
In part three of our software developer improvement series, we look at how you should be collaborating with others.
We provide these pages to try to make your programming life easier. Our resources page gives an overview. You can see a full list of our best software development practices here.
We have this free download to help with your coding: 25 design patterns - these are working examples you can step through in C#.