My first free form blog post is not going to be 100% technical. I knew this time would come. Throughout my short career, I have always seen this similar conversation pop up in some way, “How good of a developer is x”? In casual conversation or typically after a job interview. At the time of this writing, there is a global pandemic going on. So a lot of people are working from home. That made me think of my skills and how do you work out your “coding muscles”. I will share a little bit about how I increased my skills.

I have never been a fan of indiscriminate coding for the sake of coding. The older I get, the more I cherish time. I no longer just make random apps for the sake of making apps. Using technologies I will never touch again. Remember angular js? I had a phase where that was all I touched in my spare time. I don’t remember much of it now and many of the older projects couldn’t generate any revenue if I tried. Plus they threw that version out and made “angular 2”. I saw blood.

Narrowing my focus and staying motivated was the cure from that hump. Learning how to learn was a task in itself. Learning the tools that I use every day and building those skills gave me motivation. As I saw improvement in my day to day job. Making a list of things that did not make sense and just looking them up later. Simple but effective. That gave me the energy to learn things I did not understand. Giving myself 15 minutes of just looking at something uninterrupted was my second task.

After programming for 8 hours at work. The last thing I wanted to do was more coding. Especially code that I don’t understand. Soon I noticed 15 minutes turned into 30 and then to an hour and so forth. I was training myself to stay on task. After that, I realized I could start breaking things down and make a plan for compounded learning.

So now I am learning things that are useful in my daily life, creating tasks and working on them for a prolonged period uninterrupted. The last thing I was missing was a community. This was so helpful. I wish I knew about this sooner in life. Being around other developers, you learn through osmosis and you get tips on things you didn’t even know you needed. So bringing this full circle to the original topic, growing as a developer during covid when working from home is the norm.

It’s as simple as making a plan for yourself and making small changes over time. Achieving personal milestones and finding a community that pushes you. It is always the simple things that have the most impact.