033 - Why & How To Code Every Day

12 Sep, 2017

This week I saw just how beneficial it is to practice every day, and more importantly, to practice well. How can we apply this to learning to code?

After months of dillydallying around the piano I recently decided to rededicate myself and practice just 15 minutes a day to keep up the minimal skill I had earned through lots of practice. In 5 days I learned the majority of a song I’d been “learning” for the previous 4 months! This showed me just how productive it can be to not only make a daily practice habit, but also to be focused and targeted in that practice.

So how can we apply this to learning to code?

First of all, code every day. Forget less in between sessions and keep the skills you pick up along the way fresh in your mind. This is not new advice, but it’s important!

Equally important (maybe more so) is being specific about what you want to take away from each learning session. In a way, I’m still figuring out what this means for myself, but here are some of the key ideas I’ve been focusing on:

  1. When you’re first learning, write code out as much as possible (instead of copying & pasting), even if it’s something you’ve written many times before. Doing so will ensure you know what you’re doing rather than relying on application or keyboard shortcuts.
  2. Work and re-work code you’ve written in different ways. You’ll learn different ways to go about accomplishing the same thing, and will very likely find ways to optimize your code as well.
  3. Build small proofs of concept for bits of code that you’re writing, and then practice working them into bigger projects. Really study the smaller pieces so you have a better understanding of the whole.
  4. Schedule your learning time to make sure you get it in each day. At the end of each session, plan what you’ll work on the next day. These actions set you up for productive, daily sessions.
  5. Keep distractions to zero while you’re working, and focus on one part of your code in each session.
  6. Always take the time to study the code you’re writing–especially if you’re taking inspiration from other people’s code. Make sure you understand how it works before moving on to the next thing.

Thoughts on this episode? Leave a comment below or tweet me @startovercoder.