Steve Frost | Front-End Engineer

Dear Sprouting Developers

July 24, 2016

(Day 84)

Through nearly three months of studying at Flatiron for Full-Stack Development, I have refined a collection of helpful habits and resources as well as found what to avoid - see: Rabbit Holes - and am always eager to share with other students in hopes that it will help them as it helped me. Actually, much of what I use on a day-to-day was passed down from others, like age old stories. My hope is that by sharing here, others will find their helpful utensil and continue the tradition of standing on others shoulders.

Time Management. It’s hard to find time to start anything new and even more-so with something like web development that requires at least an hour each day and a cumulative infinite amount of hours. Specifically, Flatiron says it is around 600-800 hours to complete their program. This means that if you want to get done within a half a year, you’ll have to devote 30 hours a week. That is a lot of time - almost a full time job’s worth! One thing that has helped me with finding more time for programming is to limit, or shave off, time from other activities that are not necessary. I’ve found that just by trimming off time from social media and television, I’ve recovered almost 20 hours a week. I actually completely quit one social media platform after I realized it was more of an addiction than entertainment. I don’t think it’s necessary to completely quit social media but I do promise this is one area where you can save a ton of time.

Be Productive. In order to better manage my overall time and to be more productive during study sessions, I’ve been using the Pomodoro method. This is the practice of working in a 25 minute burst followed by a 5 minute break. It is helpful for several reasons. First, if I don’t want to study, it is easy to sit down for one Pomodoro, or 25 minutes, and then that one turns into two, three, four, or five Pomodoros. They also help with being focused. If you know that you have a break in so many minutes, it’s easier to muster the gumption to power through the material you’re working on. I cannot endorse this enough. That said, keep in mind that everyone is different so it may or may not be as effective for you.

Welcome Opportunities to be Humbled. In the start, I struggled when asked what I was learning or where I was in the curriculum. Nobody wants to be awful at something they’re doing but that’s how everyone starts, by being awful at coding! Accept it now and if you have any questions, ask them. Your peers and mentors had to start in the exact place you’re starting and will be able to relate. Really, it never ends. Once you learn your first language, you’ll move onto another one where the same basic questions arise and you’re a beginner all over again.

Surround Yourself with Code. When you can be in front of a computer, code. When you can’t, listen to podcasts and read books about code. Most importantly, and often skipped, talk about code whenever possible. Talk about it with your fellow coders or even talk about it with family who don’t code at all. The ability to express yourself through typing code is one thing and the ability to talk through that code, especially with someone who doesn’t know anything about it, exercises that knowledge in a whole different way. That verbal aptitude will also help when you join a full team of developers or are pair programming on a weekend side project.

That’s it, for now. I fully expect this list to continue to evolve every couple months and look forward to what’s next. If you have any tips, tricks, resources, encouraging words, or other thoughts, please leave them in the comments and I’ll add them into the post!

Steve Frost

Written by Steve Frost who lives in Minneapolis using technology to make an impact in the community and our environment.

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