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15 Things I Wished I Learned Earlier as a Software Developer

Software development is a constant learning experience, but there are certain habits and tips that I wished I internalized earlier. Hopefully, these will be of help to any learning software developer to help you save time, frustration, and effort in the long run.

Habits are not a finish line to be crossed, they are a lifestyle to be lived

  • James Clear


You’ll never know everything about anything.

Programming, algorithms, frameworks, libraries, they’re all too vast for any one person to understand the whole system. Swallow your ego and accept that you don’t know most of the things out there.

Learn how to use Git, properly.

The worst programmers are the ones who don’t actually know how to use git and don’t ask for help, messing up the git tree and causing hours of unnecessary work. Don’t be that guy, learn git.

Learn shortcuts in your IDE.

You’ll be surprised how much time you can save if you’re effective in your IDE. That means knowing where all the menu items are and shortcuts to the most common ones to spend less time having to click around and more time coding.

Stay physically active.

Coding is a very sedentary activity. Staying physically active, whether walking around for half an hour a day to going to the gym will do wonders for your productivity.

Plan before coding.

I see too many experienced developers rush head first into programming without doing the proper preparation to ensure that they aren’t wasting time. Yes, I understand that we’re software developers because we love coding, but some nice flowcharts, feature requirements, and other preparations can be done that’ll make the programming that much easier and faster.

For the love of God use a Linter

Style consistency is a big deal in any software application where you’re working with others. Using a linter is a great way to ensure that you write code that follows the latest and greatest standards.

Contribute to Open Source

I’ve written an entire article on why contributing to open source is good, but simply put it gets your name out there, gives you experience working on large projects, and hopefully makes you feel good about giving back to the community.

Stop binge watching tutorials and start coding

I’ve fallen into this trap many times myself, of constantly watching tutorial after tutorial but never taking the step of creating something. That chasm is one that has to be jumped, and once jumped, will make you feel so much better.

If you have time, blog!

Blogging is a great way to practice technical writing, get your name out there, and make people happy with great articles!

Create your developer portfolio

If you’re trying to get hired, or show off your skills to friends, a portfolio is essential. This is a fun weekend project that will make your life so much easier when trying to show others your developer talents.

Try to learn something new everyday!

Don’t ignore the power of compound habits. Think of how much more knowledge you’ll have in a year if you commit right now to learning something new daily!

Don’t take code critique personally

This is one that I struggle with myself, but when someone is criticizing your code, it’s not a personal attack. Have the matureness to step away and view what you’ve created from an unbiased view. It’ll help you write better and faster code as a developer.

Don’t compare yourself to those around you

Imposter syndrome is a big problem in the software developer community. Don’t make it worse by comparing your skills and talents to others. Everyone has unique experiences. Recognize that your path has led you to where you are today, and appreciate that!

Don’t be afraid to say No

Don’t overcommit yourself and be firm in your dedication to a singular focus. Don’t be afraid to turn down offers to work more, or on different projects, and prioritize yourself above your work.

Learn basic Devops

Devops, though often considered boring, is critical to building any kind of application. Take some time and learn the basics of how devops works so you can leverage it effectively for your next project.


Commit to learning these tips and you’ll see your value and productivity as a software developer drastically increase.

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There's a lot of content out there, I appreciate you reading mine. I'm a young entrepreneur and I write about software development and my experience running companies. You can signup for my newsletter here

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Top comments (5)

perpetual_education profile image
perpetual . education

Great list! We would just add that - if you _don't _ have time to blog... (or otherwise explain and write about your design process) - then you aren't prioritizing. As the boot camps train up a bazillion people to can bash out Node commands... the world is going to care a lot more about your thoughts than your ability to type - really soon...

sjehutch_14 profile image
Scott Hutchinson

Very good list . Might I add that .

Spending hours tracking down a bug is worth its weight in gold , for the next time your hands hit the keyboard .

peledzohar profile image
Zohar Peled

I might add: Get a mentor. Learn to become a mentor. Be a mentor.

abdulshakoor profile image
Shoukrey Tom

WOW!!! great tips, thank you for your advises

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Blogging is a huge one it makes a world of difference and allows you to understand better the code that you write as you are sharing it with other developers.