DEV Community

Cover image for How to stay a good developer
Thomas Künneth
Thomas Künneth

Posted on

How to stay a good developer

Each time of year has its very special coding-related top topics. For example, when Apples WWDC or Googles I/O are due, we get tons of speculations what might be shown, and afterwards we get the inevitable coverage. There's nothing wrong about this, it's just how our industry works. Well, the flood of news can be overwhelming, but we'll talk about that a little later.

Now, at the end of the year we see a few other topics trending, for example Top five New Year's resolutions, Ten things I did last year, What You need to start learning next year, and so on. Again, there's nothing wrong about this, it's just... you guess what I was going to say...

So, how is this article different? It isn't. It tells you what you may want to start doing, and what you may want to do a little less. I wrote it because of all these How to become an expert dev, Ten top resources you need to know, How to stay productive the whole day advice. Again (and I promise this is the last time I say it), there's nothing wrong with this. I'll even advise you utilizing them.

It's just that they all seem to be focusing so much on staying productive, becoming even more efficient, knowing more and more each day. Yet, there's more. You aren't a good developer because you know ten programming languages, but because you know which tool to use when, because you know where to get relevant information, because you...

Remember to unwind

That's right. You need to find joy in doing things other than coding. I know what you are thinking. Hey, but I listen to music while I code. And last weekend I read a book about Flutter.

Headphones and a joystick

That's not the same. You must forget coding, and you must forget your work for some hours other than while you are sleeping anyway. This may not sound important at the beginning of your career. At that time you want to gain speed as soon as possible, you want to know things. And you feel you can work really hard endlessly. But your mind needs distraction. And your body needs recreation. Neglecting these may work for a while, but it can - it will - have serious consequences.

What it means to unwind is very personal. It may be reading books, listening to music, making music yourself, cooking or baking, watching TV. Anything that gives you a feeling of recharging is fine. As long as it is not related to your job. Don't be afraid of doing mundane things. Remember, this is nothing you do to put it in your CV. You do it to stay mentally and physically healthy.

A park bench

A wonderful example is spending time with your loved ones. When did you last play some board game with the family? Which movie did you watch together? Do you remember your last trip to the Zoo? Spending time with the family will help you recharge, but remember it is equally important that your loved ones can spend time with you. They want you. They need you. They love you. And so do you. Show them.

Stay versed in

Now it's time to turn to these How to become an expert dev, Ten top resources you need to know, How to stay productive the whole day advice. No, they are not telling the whole story, but certainly an important part. It obviously is important that, depending on which part of our industry you work in, you know your stuff. You need to have places you can go to update your knowledge, find out what's currently trending, what may be the next big thing. Such articles can tell you where to look, and that's a very good, a very important thing.

A toy motorcycle

But don't participate in the race about knowing all new libraries and frameworks just because. If you are interested in the topic anyway - awesome. If you want to sharpen your skills - fantastic. If you want to evaluate for later use - certainly. But refrain from collecting these like trophies. You may be able to reuse them in your CV, but they won't necessarily make you a better developer.

Why is that? To really gain expertise in a certain field, you must spend a significant amount of time learning and practicing. You may try to get an idea of dependency injection by trying out related frameworks, but you won't appreciate implementation details unless you obtained some theoretic knowledge first, for example by reading an old-fasioned book.

A book stack

So, you need to balance between trying out something new and increasing existing knowledge.

And finally...

Talk to the neighbors

This may look like a funny way to close an article, but I mean it. Literally. Go out, communicate, talk to other people. We tend to talk a lot in our daily job, we feel there is more time spent in meetings than for coding. The point is, this talk is never personal. Never mundane. But we must, at least occasionally, chat about lightweight stuff. Your neighbor likely doesn't care about the latest M2 or Kotlin 1.8, and that's a good thing. Why, you ask? Because this helps us unwind, too.

Multi story buildings

So, when you next visit your local bakery, butcher, or greengrocer, take a few minutes to chat (unless lots of people are queueing behind you). You don't know them? Fine, improvise. Even this is going to make you a better developer.

I hope you enjoy my alternative take on becoming and staying a good dev. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

All images (c) Thomas Künneth

Top comments (2)

chnouman profile image
Muhammad Nouman

thank you for this. It impowered my though that was in my mind for quite some time.

tkuenneth profile image
Thomas Künneth

Thanks a lot, really glad you liked it.