Ever wonder what it’s like to learn how to code from a professional? From those who are successful and those who have crashed and burned, these 10 lessons will show you how they cracked the coding code. A(n) _____ resembles a verb and defines specific tasks that an object can perform. They’ll let you in on their best study habits, sleeping habits, life habits—and even what they do when they need a break.
You’ll also get insights into how coders deal with failure (hint: it’s not “quit and give up”), why learning to code is hard but worth it, and more.
1. Take breaks from coding.
As the saying goes, “if you don’t stop to take a break once in a while—it’ll drive you crazy.” That’s especially true for coders, who have to learn to be able to switch off the rest of their brain and focus solely on what they’re working on. We all know how important it is to stretch our minds and bodies, but most of us don’t give coding the same attention we do exercising or reading. This can hurt your results, especially if you’re a deep, late night coder like I am.
2. Get plenty of sleep.
Close your eyes, and you can see all the ways a lack of sleep hurts your life. Waking up with no idea what to do next. Not completing tasks on time—or at all. Losing focus, making sudden errors. This may sound obvious, but it’s not easy to be productive if you’re tired and worried that your code isn’t being executed correctly on the web server. This can lead to many sleepless nights—or hitting the bottle when you’re supposed to be working!
3. Take a walk.
If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t be afraid to walk away. Sometimes a minute or two away can break the code-block—especially in the shower! Another way to relax, refresh your mind and escape the computer is to take a walk. Some of my best coding ideas appear when I’m not working, so getting away from the keyboard always gives me a fresh approach.
4. Learn multiple languages.
Learning multiple languages can be an easy way to gain insight into your own language preferences, and it’s quite refreshing when you’re stuck on installing a library or writing an algorithm with no idea how to proceed.
5. Look at your code and listen to music.
This is a trick I picked up from learning jazz and blues guitar. When I’m trying to think of a better way to solve a difficult problem, I often find myself sitting back with the music on while thinking about my next move. Another way to do this is by watching movies or TV while coding (but make sure you turn it off when you’re not working).
6. Get help from other coders—and ask for it too!
It’s tempting to give all your code over the internet, but this can lead to slower feedback and uninformed criticism. This often makes me question my coding approach, when really I just needed a peer or mentor to tell me how they would solve the problem.
7. Get a job at startups.
Startups can be great places to learn because they usually have fewer developers, code reviews are expected and no one is afraid of failure. I suggest finding a company that values learning over experience so you can grow without the stress of deadlines and long hours.
8. Don’t commit to a “programming career.”
I see this all too much among programmers; it’s easy to think that programming is your end goal and the only thing you’ll ever do for work, but this can be shortsighted in today’s economy and tech landscape. If you’re finding that the tech world is not for you, be sure to change course and find something you love doing.
9. Invest in yourself.
My biggest regret from my programming days is that I didn’t invest enough money in myself after I got my first job. Once you start making a decent salary, create an emergency fund and then start paying off loans as soon as possible—this will free up more cash to keep learning and taking classes that will help advance your career or business.
10. Understand the importance of being a “learnist.”
The best programmers are always trying to learn something new: it could be a new language, better algorithms, more about cyber security or how to build a cool app for kids. When you work with marketing, know that the best way to get people addicted to your product is by giving them a reason to return.
To be a successful coder, you need to keep learning, keep solving problems and have a growth mindset. Always be open to learning new things, ways of doing things and taking on new challenges. The best code is written by those who never stop growing or trying something new. Take a few moments to read the article here before you go. It is full of bite-sized nuggets of solid advice. I’ve also got my own tips on learning to code that I will put into another article soon – but I’d like you to give these a try. Leave a comment in the box below and let me know how you get on!