I have been a Software Engineer for a good part of my adult life. Almost 1/3rd of my life has been spent programming in some form let it be for competitive programming, side projects and sometimes just hacking around different tech for the fun of it.
Throughout the years, I managed to identify a few skills from my peers that I found was worthwhile adopting. Some of these may be quite trivial and not very technical, but with these, even the most mediocre Engineer can gain a step up. For this article, I have summarized my 3 favorite ones.
By definition meticulous means that you have a sharp focus on whatever the task at hand and a good overarching idea on the big picture. As a programmer showing great attention to detail and being very careful and precise about the problem being solved and the stakeholder that it impacts, will give you an edge and make sure that reaching a solution is just straightforward. Imagine a scenario where you are asked to do something trivial, for instance, Adding the ability to search through a list of Store locations. The final outcome is pretty simple and straight forward. The end-user needs to be able to search these records. But if you don't ask the important questions there will be a few backs and forth rounds between the stakeholders. For example, should the end-user be able to search by the store name only, or should they be able to search these records by name, store code or address, etc Asking the right questions early on will set your path right early on and save ton's of time and frustration over small issues that can be avoided.
Journaling is one of the last things we do as programmers. In most cases, we tend to think we can hold everything in our heads. Trying to do so takes up a lot of brainpower and you can't remember everything. The human brain is such that you won't remember what you had for dinner a week or two back on a Thursday. Journaling may sound simple to do but we always try not to journal. This doesn't have to be a daily journal of sorts or you don't have to write everything that happened during the day. You should find out the most important ones, I used to have one of my managers that took minutes of every single meeting we had. I was wondering why he couldn't just remember what we discussed, but the emails he sent us afterward were like gold when we wanted to go back and clarify points we had discussed, conclusions we made about certain problems, tradeoffs that we decided on a project. Imaging all your concept discussions, Timeboxed meetings, and Project discussions at work, having a record of the key points would make it easier for everyone, including you. Because I guarantee you that you will relieve a burden that you were holding onto sub-consciously.
This isn't the most obvious thing. Also, some of the work cultures are made in such a way that the naysayers are generally shunned. But, it's mandatory that you ask the right questions and only work on stuff that truly matters to the business, and adds value to the stakeholders. Sometimes picking up the vital few from the trivial many will actually set you apart. Being able to solve the problems that add the most value to the company and customers, can result in a high ROI. Then trying to progress in all directions at the same time. I admit that this is a hard one to start and to be effective in. Especially in the work environment. You can start by practicing this in the smaller daily distractions that you have. For an instance meeting, there are a lot of meetings that can go on fine without you. Say NO, and ask for minutes from the person organizing the meeting. Once you get comfortable, you can then start filtering the extra work you have been taking on which was distracting you from the core work that is expected from you.
I hope these traits help you improve your professional lives. It helps me in both works and in personal environments to have these traits to enable me to be efficient with my time and to be stress free and productive at work.