Advice for Effective Developers

Advice for Effective Developers

Syntax FM released a podcast episode 11 habits of highly effective developers yesterday, it’s filled with anecdotes, and great advice. If you haven’t already, give it a listen! Scott Tolinksi and Wes Bos shared these 11 habits:

  • Understand stakeholders and business goals
  • Have an open mind about new tech
  • Help others with problems
  • Understand work-life balance
  • Pay attention to details
  • Be curious and always learning
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Have fun with development
  • Be empathetic to users and coworkers
  • Be part of the developer community

While listening, I made a mental note to keep practising these habits, I loved them! Especially, having fun with development. Usually, I see programming as a way to solve business problems. I forget that it can also be used to make fun things!

After the podcast ended, I thought about what advice would I have given my past self to be a more effective developer? So I made a list! I’ll add to it over time, and I hope you’ll find the advice useful.


Naming is hard. Understanding the domain of your application can help. If possible, err on being specific with your name rather than generic.

Build your pattern matching muscle. Not regex (although that can be useful), but patterns with solving problems. Watch how others solve problems, debug, and write code. Go through the same process yourself over and over again.

Pair frequently and with different people. The benefits of pairing greatly outweigh working solo on complex issues.

“For each desired change, make the change easy (warning: this may be hard), then make the easy change” – Kent Beck

Find the most straightforward path to solve a problem. If this path doesn’t exist, can you make it happen? Only when you’ve exhausted your options should you look at more complicated solutions. I find this advice the hardest to follow.

Introspect often and stay away from autopilot mode. After finishing a tutorial, take the time to understand what you’ve learnt and how you could use that knowledge in other ways.

Pursue what is interesting to you. Drown out the hubbub, the trends, the absolutists. If you don’t know what fascinates you yet; experiment.

Go broad on a topic before going deep. This advice ties in with the one above. Experiment until you find something, then go deep on it. Going broad diversifies your mental models. Going deep strengthens your models.

Have a career document aka brag document. Use it to show your impact at your role. Save all the good stuff people say about you or things that you’re proud of. Look at it whenever you’re feeling down or feeling like an imposter.

Practice saying no. Overcommitting is stressful. Burnout is real, take the time to care for yourself.

You don’t need to write blog posts, produce content, or commit to open source to be a successful developer. But it can be a nice way to give back to the community.


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