You just spent 8.5 hours working, probably had to do some house work, and you’ve wrestled a pile of kids into their PJs, managed 3 trips to the restroom and 4 drinks of water. Now you’re going to stay up until 1 a.m. working on personal projects and leveling up your dev skills, right?
If you’re anything like me the second the kids are in bed you drag yourself to bed. Brushing teeth and washing your face: purely optional. There’s no way you can stay awake and sit at the computer.
Don’t want to spend all your free time behind a computer?
It’s hard to keep up with the industry if you have a family and a household take care of. At the same time you’re working full time. Maybe you’re not a college student right out of school and don’t have time to code into the wee hours of the night, living and breathing code. So when do you find time to learn? How do you stay excited about your career in development?
Podcasts: One of my favorite options for leveling up is listening to podcasts. Either while working or in my case I enjoy listening to podcasts on my drive. I go into the office once every other week and it is a 90 minute drive so I’m able to listen to several development-based podcasts on the way to and from the office. I can sneak in another hour or so of listening while I mow the lawn. Even when I don’t have time to completely submerge myself in a certain tech, hearing interesting conversation about it keeps it fresh in my mind.
Networking: Even though I’m mainly a remote employee I do go into the office every other week. It’s nice to be able to see the people you work with and to enjoy some co-working time. An in-person lunch meeting with the people that you are used to chatting and emailing with online helps to energize.
Keep up on Slack with other developers in your company or even a network of previous coworkers and other developers when you aren’t able to meet in person. Keep the channels open to chat about new upcoming technologies and share links and ideas and troubleshoot problems.
Topic Lists: Keep a running list of keywords to search for the next time you have a few minutes either on your phone or on your desktop. I, for one, have a horrible memory so I keep a running list of buzz words and other thoughts that I want to do research on when I have time. Using a voice memo or Siri/Alexa/whatever comes in handy when my hands are not free.
I find that keeping up with some of the newer tech, even just being familiar with the latest and greatest, and networking with other like minded developers, is a good start to keeping me excited about my development career. I hope some of these ideas might help other developers, traditional or non.