Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Improve a Little Each Day

This post is a little philosophical and not very original, but I think it's a powerful idea that is backed up by modern psychological research. There are few geniuses among us, so for the majority mastering a subject requires methodical and persistent practice to become an expert. This idea can be applied to a few areas in software development.

1. Apply it to improving yourself

Pick out three topics where you would like to improve as a developer and do one small thing a day to improve in those areas. Track your progress and mark an X for each time you accomplish a small goal. I would be a much better developer had I been doing this since the beginning of my career. Little did I realize learning begins when school ends, not the other way around.

Use this method to become more efficient with your tools. Just once each day do one of the following:

  a. Look up a shortcut for something you've done manually instead of using the mouse.
  b. Learn how to use the command line to accomplish a specific task.
  c. Instead of looking through text or code files use a regex find and replace.

Over time you will become a master of your environment.

2. Apply this method to the code you touch - "Boy Scout Rule"

Each time you are in an area of code leave it at least slightly better than when you arrived. If the whole team takes this approach to heart it your codebase will drastically improve.

3. Apply it to your team as a whole

Are provisioning new machines difficult? Is pushing to production difficult? Then change it. Each time you provision a machine automate one small thing. Each time you push to production add one automation step to make it easier the next time. This will add up over time.

At the heart, improving each day involves first identifying the major problems. Then break them down into bit-size chunks and fix them methodically. Over time you will see big results.


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