Do you want to make 2018 the year you finally learn to code? If so, you’re not alone. Most people looking to change careers learn to code whilst working, which means that they have to balance lots of different day-to-day responsibilities.

You can crack coding in 2018. But like any complex skill, learning to code isn’t going to be easy. It takes time, determination, discipline, and a whole lot of direction.

To help guide you on your journey in the new year, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 tips and tricks to get you coding in 2018. Whether you want to become a developer, launch your idea, or just improve your skills, these will apply to you.

Let’s dive in to see how you can crack coding in 2018:

1. Stop thinking and start doing

It’s easy to spend lots of time formalizing how you’re going to learn to code, but you only grow as a programmer by spending time actually coding. It’s easy to get caught up endlessly researching:

  • Programming languages
  • Web frameworks
  • Coding bootcamps
  • Coding paradigms

Stop planning and start coding to enhance your skills.

2. Code every day

Consistency is key. You need to spend time coding every single day. Even if you only have 15 or 20 minutes, you can still grab a Codewars kata and solve it. If you have more time, work on a side project and make progress there.

By taking small steps every single day, you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

3. Learn to love the process

There are so many different reasons to love programming:

  • You have the ability to create something from nothing, using your computer, a text editor, and ideas you have.
  • There are ways to express yourself, with code that computers understand, that are elegant and beautiful.
  • There are often many different ways to solve the same problem. Learning all of them can expand your view as a programmer.
  • The experience of having things “click” can be one of the most satisfying moments in your career.

4. Stay cool under pressure

If you become a developer, you will at some point experience the below scenario:

Staying cool under pressure and able to think critically about code during times of urgency is a characteristic of a developer who is capable of greatness.

5. There’s a right way to ask for help

Here’s how to ask for help:

  • Over-communicate the problem you’re facing.
  • Explain exactly how to produce the problem.
  • Explain all the details of the problem and why the problem happens.
  • Walks through why you find this behavior to be surprising.

The act of communicating the details of a problem will often help you uncover the actual cause. Most programmers have experienced a situation during which they explain all the relevant details of their problem and find the answer in the process.

6. Micro-decisions often matter

A computer program that you write could have dozens, if not hundreds of:

  • Variable names
  • Method names

Good programmers will make sure they handle little things, like naming things in their code with smart, descriptive names.

If you’re coding in 2018, you need to accept that micro-decisions matter and that it’s worth the time to get them right.

7. Keep up to date with all things tech

There are plenty of times when it’s not practical to be coding. For example, when you’re commuting, working out at the gym, or doing any other type of physical activity that doesn’t allow you to be on a computer.

Despite the fact that you can’t actually write code while doing any of these activities, they can still be great opportunities for you to learn. Don’t waste these opportunities. Instead, try reading articles, or listening to some coding-related podcasts.

When I wake up, I always check my inbox for the interesting posts sent to me by Medium.

Medium will share the posts based on the people you follow and what your friends recommend.  Here are a few publications that you should consider following.

  • is our Firehose student blog. Here, we feature really awesome posts written by our students. It’s fascinating to get a peek into the minds of people who are pushing themselves to learn programming and change careers. I’d recommend checking out their stories.
  • Signal v. Noise is the medium publication for Basecamp. For context, Basecamp’s founder, DHH, started the Ruby on Rails framework. Both DHH and Jason Fried (CEO of Basecamp) write excellent posts about tech, development and the future of the web. Their opinions often are very different from common beliefs, so it’s interesting to see their unique perspective.
  • Startups, Wanderlust and Life Hacking is one of the largest Medium publications. Although many of the posts aren’t directly related to coding, they’re certainly relevant for someone who is considering entering the startup world as a developer. This medium publication has awesome posts, like Freelancers vs. Entrepreneurs by Seth Godin, and The Surprisingly Simple Thing Slack Got Wrong, by Dharmesh Shah, the CTO of HubSpot.
  • The Personal Growth medium publication also has awesome posts about improving your life, changing careers and becoming a better version of yourself every day.

8. When you get stuck, embrace the power of the 10 Tab Rule

Here’s the 10 Tab Rule:

When you get stuck coding, take a moment to articulate a thoughtful question into a search engine, then open a new tab for each of the front page search results.

After running the search and reading through the top ten results, you’ll gain valuable insight that helps you resolve the issue you’re facing.

9. Always use the right tool for the job

In programming, there are tools of the trade, like:

  • Ruby
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Git
  • GitHub
  • Heroku
  • Twitter Bootstrap
  • Postgres
  • A lot more

For every tool you pick to solve a problem, there are dozens of other technologies you could’ve picked instead.

Picking the right tool for the job allows you to program is the most enjoyable way possible. You wouldn’t ever try to build a bookshelf with a shovel. So don’t try to solve a programming problem with the wrong tool either.

10. Know when it’s time to take a break

Last but not least, don’t forget to give yourself a break. As the day stretches on, mental fatigue can start to take place. It’s not uncommon for someone to spend all day working on a problem, only to solve the same problem in 15 minutes the following day.

Learn to know when you’re at the point where you need to take a break is a very important skill to have.

Make sure that you follow these 10 tips, and you’ll be in a great position to crack coding in 2018.

AuthorKen Mazaika

Ken Mazaika is the CTO and co-founder at Firehose. Previously, he was a tech lead at (acquired by PayPal) and a member of the PayPal/eBay development team in Boston.

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