The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Software Developers

October 11, 2021 |
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Contrary to popular belief, being a successful developer does not only require good technical skills. There are much more that goes into it. A lot of things that you probably weren’t taught in your CS course. Because there’s only one way to learn them – through practice.

In this article, we wanted to discuss a few skills that set a developer apart from their peers. When the technical knowledge and the experiences are the same, these habits are the ones determining who will be successful. And sometimes, who will get that dream job!

1. Write Clean Code

This is a crucial habit that any and every software developer needs to adapt. As a developer, you will spend more time reading code than writing them. Your code needs to be readable, testable and reusable. So when you get back to a piece of code two weeks later, you can still understand what it’s supposed to do.

There are, of course, a few ways to accomplish this. According to Andrew Magee, you should start with assigning only one purpose to each function. Writing line after line of code, letting your functions get bigger and bigger will lead to a code that’s harder to read, reuse and test.

Magee says, “A function should do one thing and one thing only. If it does more than one thing, it lacks focus.”

He also advises assigning clear and meaningful names to your variables and functions. This will help with understanding their purpose later on.

2. Think More, Code Less

Every expert programmer should have a process to get things done. What’s yours and how is it helping you achieve the desired results? A developer’s primary job is not to write code, rather to develop software. And to do so, you have to take care of lots of things other than coding.

A good number of people know how to write the code. But much fewer of them know why to write it. To be a great developer, you can not limit yourself to follow the instructions you are given and think nothing else. Rather, you need to understand how the company works on a business level and how the software you are creating is going to be used.

3. Solve Problems – Persistently

Every problem has a solution. It might be hard. It might seem unsolvable in the beginning. But with enough research and persistence, you will find the solution. And it will be the best feeling.

Good developers never give up on their problems. They try to find the solution to everything they come across. Sometimes solving them will require long and hard discussions with your coworkers. Sometimes it will involve asking for suggestions from strangers on the internet. Persistency doesn’t mean being proud and not asking for help. The important part is finding the solution even if that involves hours of digging through Google looking for someone who has already solved a similar issue.

But getting help from Google definitely doesn’t mean you can just copy and paste code from Stack Overflow. Don’t forget the habit of thinking more and try to thoroughly understand the solution before implementing it.

4. Keep a Learning Mindset

Try to listen before you speak. The world around you is filled with valuable knowledge that you don’t have yet. The more you listen, the more you will gather. Which is not that easy when you consider yourself the smartest person in the room. But great developers have the willingness to admit when they don’t know something.

“If you’re in an office with other developers, listen first, then speak,” says Christopher Mendy, head of developers at Evus Technologies. “It’s the quickest way to learn.” Try to surround yourself with experienced developers and let every conversation be an opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge.

To ensure further growth, you may also go beyond your regular work activities and seek opportunities to learn. Visit different cities, go to conferences and meetups. Attend online webinars, Lunch & Learn and training to develop your skills further. Development nowadays is just continuous learning. You can not stick yourself within the box of your existing skill set.

5. Earn Expertise Beyond the Skills

Expertise is not the same as skills. For example, being able to write a Django database query is a skill. But being able to write a Django database query most efficiently so that one line of code scales is an expertise.

Do not let your expertise be limited to the skills you already have either. Always be open to new things and expand your world.

Pitaru at Badger Maps says, “There’s a constant stream of new languages, frameworks, and methodologies that successful software engineers know how to filter and sift through for what will help them continue to do their best and grow. Arguably the most important skill for a successful software engineer is knowing how to acquire new skills.”

6. Understand the Law of Value

Human beings are social creatures. We live in a society that’s built on the mutual sharing of value among its members. But it doesn’t only come from money. There are more important ways to add value to yourself and others if you understand how to do so.

First of all, learn to show empathy towards people. Building relationships is one of the most important activities you can do and with a little bit of nurturing, they’ll be valuable assets for a lifetime.

And, of course the more you learn, your knowledge will make you valuable as well. Learn a new language. Improve your communication skills. Maybe even learn to play an instrument if that grabs your interest. Everything teaches you at least some form of transferable skill, makes you more valuable incrementally.

7. Adapt a Healthy Lifestyle

No matter what your profession is, health is important for everyone. You can not enjoy your success or arguably even achieve it without having a healthy mind and body. You obviously don’t have to become a gymshark athlete. But it’s important to keep your health in check if you want to be working hard keeping your focus set on the goal.

How to do so? Start with eating healthy. Your brain needs good quality fuel for all that thinking it does all day. Eat a nutrient-rich balanced diet with less sugar and more whole foods. And then you should focus on getting the physical activities in.

As a programmer, you may sit in front of a computer all day! This is not good for your body in any way. We have all had our encounter with those backaches, right? Running, working out or doing some kind of sport will not only improve your physical health but your mental health too.

There are, of course, more to leading a healthy life such as adapting stress management techniques, getting enough sleep every night and keeping yourself safe from germs and diseases. Having a healthy and happy personal life is almost essential to a successful career.
There are the seven habits you need to practice to become a successful developer. But apart from these habits, there’s another highly important rule to keep in mind in your way to success. Let go of negative mindset like “Excellence is not for me, I am just an average person.” Success looks different for everyone. And everyone is capable of achieving that if they are determined to do so.
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