How To Stay Motivated as a Developer

Set aside an hour or two a day and build the habit of coding in that time. After a few weeks, it’ll become the norm

Indrek Lasn
Jul 18, 2019 · 5 min read
Eagle via Pxhere

Working as a developer is exciting, but also extremely sensitive to mistakes. A simple mistake in your code can cost millions in damage, and in the worst-case scenario, cause people to lose their lives.

Writing code is like poetry — it’s a form of art. Staying motivated should be the top priority of any aspiring developer in order to achieve the highest possible quality of code.

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.” ― Martin Fowler

It’s useful to remind us what motivation, disciplines, and habits really stand for.

Motivation: Wanting to do it more than you want to sleep.

Discipline: Doing it, even if you’re sleepy.

Habit: It’s just what you do, every day.

Without further ado, here are some tips I regularly use to motivate and discipline myself to write high-quality code, push myself to learn new things, and explore topics outside of my technical background.

Create Things, Make Something

Photo by Ethan Hu on Unsplash

You can start either big or small, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you get started with creating stuff. Build something you want to make.

I’m sure you’re a creative person. Think of a small project or app that would help you out, or at least look cool. Put it online. Get some feedback from people, fix some bugs, contribute to open source — just do something.

If you’re feeling inspired but lack ideas on what to build, you’re in luck, since I’ve got you covered. Check out my previous article “The Secret to Being a Top Developer Is Building Things! Here’s a List of Fun Apps to Build!”

You can show it off as a cool project to potential future employers. Nobody cares if you made another to-do app. They will care if you make a website that shows your ability to turn an abstract idea into something tangible and representable.

“When you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow & exclude people. So create.” ― Why The Lucky Stiff

Get a Job Writing Code

The best way to learn to code is by getting paid to do it. If you’re just starting out, you can get small jobs on any freelancing platform. Or better yet, apply for five internships today. Once you put some effort into it, good things will follow. That internship will turn into a junior position, followed very quickly by a promotion to a fully qualified software engineer.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

You don’t have to be an expert — you just need to know enough to get the job done. If you know how to sell yourself a little, they’re not going to care if you’re a beginner. You just have to prove that you can get the job done. If you made a cool side project as I told you to, you have experience already. Be honest with your employer and always tell them upfront about your experience.

“If you are willing to work hard and ask lots of questions, you can learn business pretty fast.“ — Steve Jobs

You don’t want to do anything completely outside your skillset. But by pushing the boundaries a little and taking on a real project, you’ll make big progress.

Attend Conferences, Buddy Up With Other Developers

Join a professional society and attend their annual conference or one of their specific topic conferences. One of my favorites is JSConf. They have a never-ending stream of cool talks about React, Angular, Vue, Node, Browsers, package managers, CSS, and etc.

Photo by Maros Fecik on Unsplash

You should be socializing and setting your claws in so you have options in the future. Make sure to have fun while doing so. Hanging out with other developers and having common interests is a great way to stay motivated.

You could argue that 99.9% of what is covered in conferences is available online shortly afterward in some way if you look. While that is the case, attending conferences is 100% about building your network.

Exercise and Get a Good Night of Rest

Exercise is really great for your health. Exercise can lower your risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and some cancers. In fact, people who work out on a regular basis are thought to have up to a 50% lower risk of dying from many of these illnesses.

Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash

Exercise is also incredibly good for your mental health, and it can help you manage stress and unwind.

Programmers have a very stationary job. We’re glued to our laptops or stuck in meetings most of our working time. Probably the most physical effort required is lifting a coffee cup. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you this isn’t exactly a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

I’m a big advocate of exercising. I exercise every day for two to four hours, and it makes me feel great. You should exercise too; it’s good for you.


Remember, nobody can tell you exactly how to keep yourself motivated. It’s something that you learn how to do yourself over time.

If you’re aspiring to become a programmer, the “Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving” book was a very useful read.

Thanks for reading!

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Indrek Lasn

Written by

JS, Swift, C++ Indie Dev. Oh, and startups. Connect with me on Twitter @

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

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