How to be the “Always Learning” Swift Programmer…Who Actually DOES learn

Every person has the same amount of time each day

Here are five different ways to use your spare time constructively as a programmer. When we talk about spare time, we mean the time before work — at lunchtime — and after work as well as weekends.

Everyone has 24 hours each day (and you should take 9 hours of that for your daily sleep opportunity) so how can you maximise your time for your career, and what will you do?

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Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

As a programmer you will often hear people tell you that they are always learning. They’ll have various projects and activities that they tell you about, but when you look into their productivity at work it isn’t great. Perhaps they work better on their side projects, and that is dragging their work productivity down. No, it appears that they aren’t productive at all and just like to tell you of the things they (aren’t) doing.

So what do the real doers do? When do they do it?

That time before work where you decide that you would like an extra ½ hour in bed? The most productive people get up and work. This isn’t work for your employer, and neither is it time spent reading blogs or electronics reviews. It is using the benefit of the morning to get some work done.

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Photo by Ocean Ng on Unsplash

At lunchtime? A similar thing is happening. After work? On an ordinary working day there should be at least one hour of productive work time that could be used.

Reading blogs and doing low-level work? This can be done during travel time.

Decide when you work best and when your concentration and attention span are not as good as they might be, and use that time for less intensive tasks.

Sitting and staring out of a window?

This shouldn’t be an option

While at work you can listen to Podcasts. Although it is true that this can lower your efficiency while performing some tasks, if you need to concentrate you can turn it off!

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

My recommendations:

  • Swift Unwrapped
  • Swift by Sundell
  • Programming Throwdown
  • Overflow; audible

These are available through your favourite Podcast provider and give that background around your job that can be invaluable.

If you’ve got a minute at work you might like to read a programming blog. Nothing too heavy, something along the lines of

Dev.to

Gives you an idea of what is going on in the industry, while not being too difficult in terms of language.

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Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

You should be able to access blogs on your phone. Queuing for a coffee? Use your phone and read the blog!

You’re probably aware of LeetCode for interview practice. Now you should be using LeetCode to prepare for interviews.

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Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne on Unsplash

Here is the thing, though. You need to use these tools over an extended period, and that period could extend over years.

Equally (and here is the thing), despite what some might say (Oasis reference) these problems are actually useful in your working life.

Let me say it again:

LeetCode can help you solve problems at work

And what else what were you doing during that lunchtime break anyway? As you move through LeetCode you need to realise that it isn’t a race, LeetCode allows you to do more and move towards fluency in problem solving.

I wondered whether I should use this to suggest you learn German. Actually that’s not a complete joke.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

If you are a computer scientist, yes it might make sense to learn PHP, Python or Java from scratch.

Believe it or not, there is also value in learning a things that are completely outside your area. Now I don’t necessarily mean astrophysics (although that would be good), but what about project management, design or business? Programmers who know something about business development are disappointingly rare.

Although programmers who can speak English and German…common in Germany…but…it is still valuable.

Learning is good for it’s own cause, and you should think about what you might want to learn and what you are interested in to boost not just your career but your wider knowledge.

Conclusion:

When people claim that they are all about learning, are they really? Part of progression and moving forwards is more about doing it rather than thinking about what you are doing.

On that point —

what are you doing reading this.

Go ahead. Go on and do it. Your future self will thank you.

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Any questions? You can get in touch with me here

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