Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. - Abraham Lincoln
This is not about how to prepare to be the best developer, this is about how to keep up as a developer and become the best at what you do.
Definition of Productive
Productive is achieving a significant amount or result.
Let's paint a picture of a productive developer; writes codes every day, sleep only 2 hours a day, eats only at night, works alone, no relationship with any other human, knows every programming languages and frameworks, does not use Google or Stackoverflow, does not read books or watch any tutorial, always ready to jump on any project, always wears a hood and always with glasses and cool headphones. Did I miss anything? Add yours in the comments.
If the above picture is correct about a productive developer, it fair to say some people are clones and I will just end my article here.
I don't like long articles
I hope you are still reading, the picture we painted above is not human and a developer is first a human being. If you are reading this in the future, argue with your AI which is built by humans.
So, you are given six hours to chop down a tree, spend the first four hours sharpening the axe, even if it a brand new axe. Yes, I know you are not Abraham Lincoln, in this case, you have 24 hours of every day to be a developer, spend 20 hours being a human being.
I used to look a lot like the developer we painted above and I will go through a whole year without one project to show, believe me, I am telling you the truth and without a project, there was no way to identify or track any improvement to my skills. It wasn't as funny as you are reading it now, slowly burnout was constant and depression started to creep in, losing connection with the real reason why I wanted to be a developer in the first place, I wasn't seeing the fun in it anymore.
I made some changes to my daily routine and in just 4 months I run a consistent podcast, I am starting a YouTube series in June, I am releasing two projects for my clients this April and actively contribute to open source.
Some of you reading this will be surprised, you may have seen me on stage giving a talk or read one of my article in the past, remember I said, "This article is not about being the best but about keeping up as a developer."
Really didn't expect this to be this long
So, I'm just going to take you through some of the non-technical things that help me, the title of this article was going to be Non-Technical Things You can do to Boost Your Productivity as a Developer. But didn't sound nice.
Let's start with the list
A friend of mine once said, "reading books will make you believe, you too can do anything." And that was what happened to me. I started reading non-fiction books, all those self-improvement kind of books, this activity created space for me to relax my brain and receive information without so much activity of processing data. I am not sharing any science proved research here, just a personal experience. Reading also helped me create a purpose for my journey. You can check out my Goodreads Profile for some books I enjoyed.
If you know me, you should know I have no fat to burn, (not on the obvious surface at least). Due to my body physics, there is always a funny look on my neighbours' faces when I go out for a run, it more like a question of "What on earth is this guy doing?" Again not scientific here, but running or jogging cleared my mind, got me prepared for my tasks and time to think outside the box, well I am literally outside the box.
Getting More Sleep
Are you like me? I would mistakenly fall asleep by 2 am wake up at 6 am and still complain I overslept. Yes, we do have the night owls, some people love to work at night while some are different, in my case I couldn't tell which time I belong to. So, I set up a sleep routine for myself by 11 pm I'm on my bed and I will force my self to sleep then set the alarm for 4 am, this is when my day starts. I would start with reading my book for an hour, then jump on my codes and start at it, before 8 am breakfast is ready. With a good night sleep, I get to spend the day focused on doing what matters without so much as getting tired and 60% of my daily work is done in the morning or prepared for the night before.
Wow, this is long...
Food and waterI still don't have this part planned, but for breakfast, that is a must. I wake up and start the day with a cup of water then I must have my breakfast and a cup of coffee. Having my breakfast always boost my energy to move on with finishing my tasks, breakfast is really important not just for the belly but for my mindset too, the fulfillment.
I am not saying what worked for me will work for you, all I am saying, try to sharpen the axe before you chop down the tree. You are not Superman and even he has Lois Lane and the Daily Planet to take him off whatever his job is.
These activities became a daily schedule for me without knowing it, it created time to let me work on my projects, watch tutorials for 2 hours everyday and spare 2 hours for Netflix (now you know how I finished Peaky Blinders and Good Girls)
I hope this helps you find your way to sharpen your axe, share this with someone that may need it, also do not forget to follow me.