97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

(Chris Devlin) #1

Collective Wisdom from the Experts 75

In addition, you always need to learn more about software development in
general and programming techniques in particular. You probably need to read
books, go to conferences, communicate with other professionals, experiment
with new implementation techniques, and learn about powerful tools that sim-
plify your job. As a professional programmer, you must keep yourself updated
in your field of expertise—just as brain surgeons and pilots are expected to
keep themselves up to date in their own fields of expertise. You need to spend
evenings, weekends, and holidays educating yourself; therefore, you cannot
spend your evenings, weekends, and holidays working overtime on your cur-
rent project. Do you really expect brain surgeons to perform surgery 60 hours
a week, or pilots to fly 60 hours a week? Of course not: preparation and educa-
tion are an essential part of their profession.

Be focused on the project, contribute as much as you can by finding smart
solutions, improve your skills, reflect on what you are doing, and adapt your
behavior. Avoid embarrassing yourself, and our profession, by behaving like
a hamster in a cage spinning the wheel. As a professional programmer, you
should know that trying to be focused and “productive” 60 hours a week is not
a sensible thing to do. Act like a professional: prepare, effect, observe, reflect,
and change.

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