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How to Make Time to Become a Better Developer

If you’ve made it this far, then you clearly already know how to make time.

It was simple, right? You clicked to read this post, and in doing so, you declared this was priority over something else you could have made time for.

But if you’re willing to make time to click on this article (or any other), then you aren’t allowed to ever be disappointed by:

  • Your empty Github profile
  • The fact that you haven’t added a new skill to your stack in 6 months
  • That your passion project gets less love than your Pokemon collection.

You want to become better? To get any job you want as a developer? To live and work like a digital nomad?

Then “I don’t have time to get better” can no longer be an excuse.

As I wrote in a previous post, it’s not about having time, it’s about making time.

But how do you make time?

There’s a myriad of reasons as to why you might feel like you have no time, and therefore can’t make time.

But believe it or not, you have the power to make time. No matter how busy you might be.

And here’s how you do it.

Eliminate the non-essentials from your daily routine.

When you visualize your daily routine in your mind, you might think:

“There are no slots of time in my routine to make time for growing as a developer.”

But that’s only because you’ve decided everything in your routine is essential to the life and career you want.

Because as it often turns out, not everything in your routine right now is essential to helping you become better.

And when you start questioning whether a task you do in your daily routine is truly essential to getting what you want, you suddenly have the opportunity to make time.

Or as Greg McKeown says in his book “Essentialism”:

Focus on the vital few rather than the trivial many.

He goes on to suggest that we can make micro adjustments in the things we do often to help us make time.

So are you ready to do this, or what?

Here comes your 7 day challenge.

For the next week, starting RIGHT NOW, make these two micro adjustments and you will suddenly discover you have the power to create time.

Micro adjustment #1: Don’t start your day with Slack/e-mail

When we start our day being bombarded by Slack and e-mail, we are thrown immediately into chaos.

Burn this in your brain:

If you open Slack/e-mail at the start of your day, you’ll let “the outside” control your time for that day.

Instead, you have to start the day in control of your time.

Start your day with time for reflecting on what you want to achieve that day and what is essential to getting you to where you want to be as a developer.

Every day of your life is a battle against non-essentials fighting for your time.

Once you get into Slack/e-mail, you’ll have an onslaught of non-essentials coming your way.

Start your day without the onslaught, and rather with a calm, focused mindset that is ready to start de-prioritizing the non-essentials.

Instead, start your day with a mindset that’s laser focused on what is essential for you to get where you want to be as a developer.

Do this for 7 days and comment below with how it goes.

Micro adjustment #2: Eliminate something that’s not essential from your routine

Eliminate (or at least start limiting) one thing you do often from your routine that isn’t essential to helping you grow as a developer.

Some examples that might help you:

  • Eliminate Facebook: limit to checking only once per day.
  • Eliminate YouTube/TV: limit to 40 minutes of video per day.
  • Eliminate Hearthstone: limit to only one match per day.
  • Eliminate Medium: limit to reading one article per day.

It could be anything, but there is definitely something you do often that isn’t essential to your goal of growing as a developer that can be limited.

I repeat: There is AT LEAST ONE THING less important than learning what Docker can do for you.

Find that thing. Kill it for a week. Make a little room for learning and practicing.

Now, I’m not saying don’t have fun, or don’t take breaks. They can be essential, too. But they can be limited to specific days or amounts of time to make room for other essentials. The key is creating those limits and building habit around them.

This won’t be easy. But catch yourself every time you’re about to do that “one thing”, and re-focus your mind on an essential.

!Important to remember: You can’t eliminate a lot of things all at once — your mind will have withdrawals and get frustrated quickly (and give up). Let’s start with just one.

Focus on limiting/eliminating just one thing for one week.

Do this for 7 days and comment below with how it affects helping you achieve a development goal you have.

Wrap-up

We think we have to do everything, but not everything helps us achieve our goals.

Once you start thinking this throughout your day, that it’s OK to not do everything today unless it’s essential, you will realize how you are in control of your time.

And the ones who know this are able to make time to grow as a developer much more than anyone else.

Commit. Push. Unleash. Good luck, and don’t forget to comment with your progress.

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