Throughout our careers we tend to learn both good coding habits and bad habits. Understanding what makes them positive and conditioning those habits into your work-life can offer many benefits.
Development and writing code is a way of life for many people. But no matter how good you are at a skill or talent, there will always be obstacles to overcome. One of those obstacles, or challenges really, is unlearning bad habits or moving away from ineffective programming techniques.
The Power of Positive Coding Habits
Habit-forming can be both good and bad. When it’s good, it’s an excellent way to build or hone valuable skills and practices. Imagine it as a form of conditioning, or programming for your brain and body. Positive coding habits can help you further your career.
There are good habits to have, and bad habits to have. Like the old saying, the early bird gets the worm. Waking up early gives you more time to get things done, and over time, it can be an incredibly valuable habit. It’s not necessarily that waking up late is totally bad, but there are caveats to doing so. The same principle can be applied to coding and development habits.
To form good habits, it helps to know best practices or more positive steps you can take. That’s why we’re going to take a look at 6 coding habits of successful developers.
Coding Habit 1: Understanding What Your Code DOES
Most development team leaders compartmentalize the work, breaking up the overall project into smaller segments with individual coders dedicated to each. Of course, programmers and developers understand the more simplistic nature of the work they’re doing — you might know you’re coding a mechanic, software interface, or some other singular element, for example. But that doesn’t always mean you know the bigger picture or understand it.
That bigger picture, and understanding what your code does and what it’s going to be used for, is absolutely essential to both precision and personal growth. It’s also one of the more essential coding habits to have. An excellent strategy for assessing the project is to look at it from the perspective of the end-user, client, or customers. What influence will your work have on their experience? What will they be doing with your code, specifically?
Coding Habit 2: Keep It Organized
Everyone has their preferred coding style or techniques, and that’s fine, but you need to make sure those behaviors are, at least, somewhat organized. This is an easier habit to form when you’re working on larger, team-based projects — because you have to stay focused and organized anyway. If you’re working on solo projects, that’s where the real challenges will rear their head.
Before diving into the work headfirst each day, or week, come up with an action plan. Decide what it is you’re going to achieve, and what your work for that period is going to be primarily focused on. Stick with small chunks or specific functions of the project, as opposed to jumping from one part to another freely. It can be a challenging habit for creatives too, who are often guided by their muse.
Coding Habit 3: Love to Code
Work is work, and while the saying “love what you do” is relevant, it’s not always going to be true. Sometimes, you’re not going to enjoy what you’re doing, especially if you’re having trouble staying productive and you have to force the investment.
That said, if you’re going to be working in software development, programming fields, or working with code, you should enjoy it on a fundamental level. Passion can wane, and sometimes you’ll feel less joyful about what you’re doing, but loving to code overall is a necessary part of the field.
Coding is a very creative endeavor, and if you don’t love doing it, you’re going to run into trouble writing clean, healthy syntax. The coding habit here is to enjoy what you’re doing and inject that into your work and your writing. If that’s not possible, you may want to reconsider some career choices.
Coding Habit 4: Keep Growth Persistent
The phrase “development stack” is used a lot to denote a specific grouping of languages, development tools, libraries, and even IDEs. When you first start a project or begin working with a language, a common practice is to choose and stick with a particular development stack. That makes perfect sense, especially since you’ll want to stay organized and focused throughout the scope of a project.
However, that doesn’t mean you should confine your career to a single development stack. Adopt a persistent personal growth strategy that allows you to branch out and learn new concepts and languages. Mastery of a discipline is important, but you will also become instantly more valuable to employers if you broaden your knowledge and skill set.
Coding Habit 5: Collaborate with Your Peers
It’s easy to get in the habit of working with your head down, keeping to your own tasks, and sometimes even avoiding social interactions, especially these days. However, your colleagues may have a lot of value to offer, and they can help with challenges, questions, and other things you may encounter. Sometimes, it’s also just healthy to discuss coding and development work with people who understand the same concepts and practices.
Even if you’re not working together on a task, finding ways to collaborate with others is a great habit. No, you don’t want to be distracting to anyone, but the goal is to find healthy, productive ways to interact with others whether in the workplace or just during other social events and gatherings.
Coding Habit 6: Learn to Seek Help
An awesome way to find support and communicate with like-minded professionals, is to join an online community. There are many options, and many platforms for doing so, from Stack Overflow to Reddit, and on to more specific forums and discussion boards.
Don’t be averse to getting help from strangers on the internet. Sometimes, just asking for help with a problem, complex or not, can get you out of a tight spot. A community may have solved the problem already, too. You never know until you look.
Do You Have Any Positive Coding Habits to Share?
What are your thoughts on this topic? Are there any coding habits you’ve formed during your career as a developer that you’d like to share?
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