2018 February 27th
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. — Ferris Bueller.
I’m going to go over steps I have taken the help me with learning to code (again)
But fist, preamble:
That was the overriding message I got when I started out in freeCodeCamp it’s a fun and exciting time and you will see a lot of articles along the lines of ‘hey look at me I was a school teacher before, now I’m earning $100k as a engineer for x startup’
I don’t mean this in a mean spirited or passive aggressive way, but if you’re starting out in web development and you surround yourself with other people that want to achieve, they will, you know, achieve! 🙃
There’s a bit of expectation vs reality here, if you are the kind of person that can memorize the masses of information out there relating to your chosen field then you’re onto a winner, as for myself it’s repetition, repetition, repetition until it becomes habit, there’s a lot to be said about habits.
Forming habits takes time though, on 20161230 was when I decided to take part in the #100DaysOfCode challenge I couldn’t give you an idea of how I felt then but reviewing the log entries I seemed pretty confused and a little frustrated with it all.
That’s not to say it hasn’t been an enriching and life changing experience for me.
Along the way I have met some truly awesome, inspiring people, happy to help with any issues or problems you may have. The support I found not just in the #100DaysOfCode community but the web dev community as a whole is truly amazing.
Patience is needed, instant gratification doesn’t work here, well at least not for me. This will soon come to light if you start to compare yourself to how other people (your cohorts) are progressing. You may start to wonder why you are not progressing as fast as they appear to be progressing, this will probably add to any anxiety you may have about if you can do this thing or not. Do not concern yourself with this and instead use that energy to focus on what you need to do, code.
Different people progress at different rates and learn in different ways.
Myself personally, I have found that I’m a visual learner (I’ve known this for a long time actually) where to be able to ‘join up’ concepts/paradigms I need to see them in action. This is why I will always gush about courses by Wes Bos or Kent C. Dodds as they (among many others) are great at explaining complex subject simply and visually with their awesome content on egghead.io and wesbos.com.
YMMV however, so, find what works for you, find it and stick with it.
I have discovered recently that splitting my time between projects wasn’t really helping me so I decided to work on one particular project each time I sat down to code.
The first time I did this I was struggling for hours with little to nothing show for it, it felt futile and I was getting anxious about not moving on, it was at this point when I would usually switch context and work on something else - I found though that pushing that little bit more was all I needed.
This was such psychological win for me, and gave me the confidence to do more.
This has paid dividends as I now have 6+ demos of projects I have made on my portfolio
I’s easy to get distracted, things like apps for slack and email and Twitter should not be opened, this will eat up your time. You have a set amount of time to get something done, this will come to light when you have finished reading your Twitter updates and Slack messages only to realise you have fifteen minutes left to complete the task you set out to do.
Soon into starting #100DaysOfCode I noticed this, what I did was turn off all my phone notifications - if you need to check something then check it, don’t let your phone dictate where your attention needs to be directed.
I turned off all browser notifications for Slack and Gmail. My phone is left in another room on do not disturb whilst I work. Whilst in do not disturb mode my phone will not make a noise unless someone on my stared contacts list calls me. I pick up the phone in the afternoon to check missed calls listen to voice mails and return any calls if needed.
Saying that you don’t have the time to do 1-2 hours of coding a day isn’t going to help, it’s though, but it’s not about having the time it’s about making the time to do this. If it’s important to you, you will make time. You’re the only one that can make these things happen.
This weight gain is a mixture of illness at the start of 2017 and bad diet choices thereafter. In the past I consciously opted for ‘healthy’ foods spending that little extra time deciding what to eat.
Whilst being ill at the start of 2017 I developed a bit of an addiction to cereals (granola) 😬 it was quick and easy and I got a quick boost from it.
Quick and easy soon became the norm after that 🙃 I have identified this now and am making an effort to reduce this whilst also making time for my development.
It’s a balance though 😀
Some tools I use to help me ‘get on’ with what I’ve set out to do, a while back I started using Todoist, this is great for when you’re scrolling through your Twitter feed and find a link to a really neat looking tutorial or post you want to read but don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of working out where to document it, I will add it to Todoist and come back to it when I get the capacity to work on it.
WakaTime is a great tool for quantifying your coding, pretty handy when doing #100DaysOfCode, you get that instant feedback on how you’re doing for the day.
RescueTime, is handy for helping you identify your productivity black holes and give you a nice breakdown of where your time is spent on your computer and mobile.
They just used to be called handy tips, now we need to call them hacks so we can think they’re cheating the system. In reality it’s some helpful rules to aid you if you need to find the extra time.
Get up early, I’ve taken to getting up an hour earlier than I used to to squeeze an hour and a half out of the morning, I have a MI band that I have set to vibrate to wake me at that time so I do not disturb my wife.
Go to bed early, sleep is important kids, anyone that says otherwise obviously doesn’t get enough sleep 🙃
Have a mobile phone? Download podcasts, download video tutorials and try to carve a bit of time out of your day to consume these, on your way to work on the train on your lunch break. All great ways to fill ‘empty time’. Whilst you’re out running or at the gym, great times to listen to podcasts.
When I finished my last (VBA) contract in October I used that time to fully immerse myself in web development.
At the time (which was good timing actually) I started a build to learn project with two other remote developers, one in Egypt and one in Serbia. We were all participating in the Chingu Voyage, this has been a real eye opener for me and has given me the confidence to get all my portfolio projects ready for potential employers to view.
Whilst taking part in the b2l Chingu project I got to treat this time as a full time job which my WakaTime stats will attest. This was one of the triggers for me that I should start applying for jobs as a junior dev.