7 Essential Tips from 300 days learning to code

Ross Mason
Nov 15, 2019 · 10 min read
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Photo by Fernando Hernandez on Unsplash

“In January 2019 I made a commitment to learn how to code in Python, a widely used, object-oriented programming language…

…over the last 300 days I have explored many different resources to learn programming, including: coding `gamification` sites; MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses); technical documentation, magazines, books, podcasts and video tutorials. No single resource was useful from the beginning to end of my learning journey, but some were great at specific times. Beyond individual resources, I would like to share some learning principles I found helpful, and could be applied to any programming language.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

- Aristotle (384–322 BC)

The most valuable lesson I learned was to make coding a habit. On the rare occasion I could not sit at a computer and code on a given day, I would use other creative methods to keep learning, for example: reading a tutorial for five minutes in the morning, coding on my phone during a lunch break, or squeezing in a quick video tutorial before bed.

“Always code as if the person who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live”

- Unknown (Cited from Conway, 2005)

I genuinely found reading other people’s code enjoyable, if you have spent hours working through clean examples in tutorials, or staring at your own code, it can be eye-opening to read real-world programs. There are many different styles and methods programmers use to achieve their coding goals, with varying degrees of quality! Reading other programmers code is also a great place to learn more efficient or concise syntax to improve your own code, and enhance your projects. On more than one occasion I learned a shortcut with Python that could have saved me so much time had I known it earlier in my learning journey.

“How about working hard to continually improve over 24 months? Well, now you’re starting to get somewhere…”

Norvig, P

I have thoroughly enjoyed my coding journey, it has been challenging, frustrating, fun, creative and eye-opening. If you haven’t tried coding already, I’d like to encourage you to download a programming language and start creating something you are passionate about. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey as much as I have.

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