Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Coding
Learning to code has been a very positive experience in my life. I believe coding has tremendously nurtured my ability to think deeply about problems and to break them down into solvable and digestible chunks.
In this piece, I’ll address what I’d tell myself before starting to code. I hope you can use some of my thoughts and advice to your advantage.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
Programming is extremely challenging at times, especially when starting out. Don’t feel bad about asking for help. That’s what makes a great working environment — having reliable and friendly coworkers who you can always ask for support and vice versa.
A great team exchanges thoughts and problems, as well as solutions too.
Learn to Say “No” More Often — Know Your Limits
Coding is all about solving problems as efficiently and swiftly as possible. It’s easy to overcommit and underestimate how long things will take.
I’d recommend not spreading yourself out too thin — it’s nice to actually meet deadlines and finish projects. As a general rule of thumb, you should underpromise and overdeliver.
When someone approaches you with a request to build the next big thing while you’re working on a mobile app for the local animal shelter, does it make sense to take on such a difficult venture with already fully stacked hands?
Put your feet down, and learn to say no more often — but you should still keep an ear open for good ideas (you never know). It’s difficult to master when to say yes and no, but it’ll come with time. You shouldn’t say no to everything, though.
Some of the best ideas started undoubtedly as crazy ideas — for example, take Airbnb. There isn’t a single bone in my body that doubts the genius of Airbnb now — but when the founders just started, it sounded terrible. You want to invite strangers to your home to sleep on an air-filled mattress and serve them breakfast? But it turned out great for them.
Your Family and Friends Will Think You’re a Computer Wizard (“Will You Fix My Printer?”)
I was at a family gathering celebrating a birthday, and swiftly, I was overwhelmed with questions asking me to look at devices.
I was sitting on the couch with two laptops and two phones. Luckily, this didn’t cause a calamity since I love computers and electronics very much.
Take Short Breaks to Recharge and Avoid Burnouts
This is something I personally struggle with a lot. I’m more on the industrial-spectrum side — thus making me feel the urge to work all day and night. Thankfully, I realized this is certainly not a sustainable lifestyle. It took me a couple of burnouts to finally drive this point home.
To combat this, I’ve come to terms with myself, and I’ve allowed myself to take breaks on Saturday and Sunday. Saturdays I’m allowed to work on side projects, while on Sundays I’m not even allowed to open the code editor.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. People have been programming for decades — there are no shortcuts to becoming great. It takes a long, long time to become proficient and confident.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article.
Stay awesome, and happy coding!