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Quick Tips for Learning Web Dev When You're Already Busy

Connor
I'm a junior web developer learning a mix of frontend and full stack. I love learning new skills and ideas.
・4 min read

"I'm Too Busy For This"

I guarantee you've said this to yourself. Regardless of whether you're attending a bootcamp, a tech school for a certification, or a college/university for a bachelor's degree, you have felt like web development is just too widespread and fluid for you to handle.

So here's a few helpful tips and (not C-style) pointers to get you learning code, bit by bit. Pun intended.

Toddlers Are Imaginary

Sad toddler

Let's face it: most of us that are brand-new or recently trained or educated in web development can still feel pretty much like a toddler compared to the people around us.

Do not compare yourself to others. Seek to improve yourself instead.

You're only a toddler compared to adults if that's how you label yourself and others.

It doesn't matter if you're 25 or 45 in the source code if you can't frame your thoughts and ego correctly and solve issues when they come. Focus on learning, admitting mistakes, and being open to correction. Then, turn around and offer that same help to the next newbie.

Don't misunderstand me: there is obviously a skill gap between veteran coders and brand-new ones. How you close that gap and grow in your field is what's important, not the fact that there is one. That starts with having a proper perspective.

It's important to remember that learning step-by-step is crucial and always will be. You need to know the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and how they intertwine before you jump whole-hog into a JS framework like React. It takes time and patience.

Stop comparing yourself and then, metaphorical toddler or not, you can feel like this when you succeed at something you struggled with.

Happy toddler

"Collect Pennies to Make Dollars" in Learning

It's totally okay to have a busy life. It just means that you need a "I'll take what I can get" mentality when it comes to learning opportunities. Maybe you don't have time in your schedule to take that college class on CSS frameworks or go to that boot camp downtown that covers the hot new development style.

That makes sites like here and online class vendors like Udemy really important. Because you can learn at your own pace, and take things just a few minutes at a time.

Like this article, for example. It'll take just a few minutes of your time total, and hopefully it can help you percolate some basic ideas in your head of how to tackle that thing that confuses you.

Ask "Why?"

Obama shrugging

If there's a particular problem that you keep having crop up, ask yourself "why?"

Like so:

  • Why might the code give me this error?
  • What does this error say in the console?
  • What would happen if I changed the function that causes the error like this?
  • What is this operator / function supposed to do?
  • What am I expecting it to do? (this one can be a rabbit hole)

These questions are designed to get you thinking a little deeper on what your code is actually doing. Look back on the tutorial's instructions, go to MDN and read through the basic documentation, or ask a friend. Commenting on a post here at Dev.to is a great way to get feedback from people who are intending to learn and be social.

Take A Break

Five minutes, five days, five weeks... whatever you need to do. It's better to look at things from a fresh perspective than to muddle around your code in a frustrated mood.

I can't tell you how many times a five-minute problem (that I could have solved with one Google search and a few lines, had I taken a break) turned into a 60-minute catastrophe because I was tired, distracted or otherwise disengaged from actually understanding my code.

Example:

I was writing some @keyframes in CSS that just. were. not. working.

I had everything else correct in the HTML and the base JavaScript. I was certain it should work.

The time came and I turned in the assignment in a huff. I told my professor in no uncertain terms I had no idea why it wasn't working, but I knew the rest of the code was good.

My professor got a laugh and told me I had simply forgotten to add the measurement tag deg onto the transform. Like so:


/* these two code blocks drove me insane for an hour. */

@keyframes flip-out {
  from {
    transform: rotateY(0);
  } to {
    transform: rotateY(90); /* rotate by 90 .. what, exactly? */
  }
}

@keyframes flip-in {
  from {
    transform: rotateY(90);
  } to {
    transform: rotateY(0);
  }
}

/* this is the right way to do it */
/* notice anything different?? */

@keyframes flip-out {
  from {
    transform: rotateY(0deg);
  } to {
    transform: rotateY(90deg); /* Oh. 90 degrees! */
  }
}

@keyframes flip-in {
  from {
    transform: rotateY(90deg);
  } to {
    transform: rotateY(0deg);
  }
}

So I guarantee to you that if you walk away for a moment and come back, you'll see things in a better light.

TL;DR

You might feel like a small little toddler surrounded by big, scary adults that actually know how to write code. Stop it. You are an adult (or teenager, at least) that knows something. Own up to it. Ask questions. And grow naturally.

Take things a bit at a time. Some people can get the hang of a language or framework a lot faster than others. That doesn't change your worth. Only the methods, time and effort required to reach the result you want.

Ask "WHY?"

And don't forget to take a break.


Thank you so much for reading. 😁👍

If you have suggestions or comments, please tell me! If you're going to take time out of your day to read what I'm writing I may as well improve it.

Cover Image Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

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