The Software Developer Mindset
Thinking Like a Software Developer
A software developer has to figure software problems out. That's the job description.
A lot of my work is figuring out things which are in a 'stuck' state. Until I force them into shape, I can't say that thinking about them is always pleasant.
It often feels like trying to wrestle a large lump into something manageable. It's not easy.
I've learned that figuring out a good mindset helps.
Building a Good Mindset
Mindset means being able to work relatively steadily, without undue interruptions or breaks.
Mindset means being able to recover if something goes wrong, or the plan needs you, for a time, to wing it.
Mindset means having the focus and initiative to analyze a situation, see how to improve it, and then improve it.
It's about the mentality, the approaches, even the thoughts, that makes it possible to react this way.
It helps to have an even emotional keel. To be able to use your emotions to harmonize with your work, and then do it better.
It helps to be resilient, to adjust as the situation does, however randomly.
Finally, there's staying positive and keeping at it, something like the opposite of despair.
Having the Right Feedback Loops
It's helpful for your emotions and your work to be on the same feedback loop.
So, if you're making progress on work tasks, and that needle is moving forward, emotionally, you should feel better. If you're slipping behind, you should feel worse.
As I started thinking about how I thought and felt, internally, during a work day, I noticed how out of sync with that I was.
Often I didn't feel much of anything, except a dry sense of duty.
Being numb, and then trying to not be numb, is a struggle.
But by thinking about it, I pushed things to a better place.
Tracking Your Emotions
I noticed my emotions were often on a completely different track at work.
I might not feel much of anything during the day, then I'd call a friend or watch a movie and that would be 95% of the emotion I felt that day.
If you think about the feedback loop - that's off of it.
So getting the feedback loop to work is its own problem.
Getting the feedback loop to kick in, even on a small scale, is always beneficial. Getting the gradient of emotions to work is too.
I may not always be working on the most cost-effective item. But if I can rough but consistent progress in the right direction, that's an improvement.
It's worth striving for and achieving.
Catching and Fixing Mistakes
I noticed that I could notice when I wasn't making any work progress, and do something about that. I could work to catch a crisis and resolve it in the moment.
Say I was on social media when I made the observation: I'm not moving closer to my work goals.
I might not be able to solve the whole work progress problem in one go, but I could notice I wasn't being productive, and stop what I was doing in the moment.
Then, I could focus on doing one small thing, then and there, to advance my work goals.
If I write a blog post, or watch a work video, then doing that over and over, will, in the long run, accomplish my goals.
That's significant. I could go from being totally unproductive, to mildly productive for the day, with some attention on this issue.
Valuing Your Time
Time, when you're counting it, is precious.
So I learned to manage my time more proactively than before.
Instead of making it an epic struggle, I broke it down into small pieces I could take on in 10 minutes.
I've been more productive since I've started doing this.
And when it comes to productivity, I strongly believe the perfect is the enemy of the good, and every stop forward helps.
How a Software Developer Mindset Will Help You
To be able to work, consistently, at a decent rate, over time, is rare. It's not a skill that's universally common in the workforce.
If you are like that, that puts you at the top of your group.
This is where I notice a difference between the language we use to describe the workforce and the reality of it.
In the language we hear about the workforce, everyone, from bottom to top, is giving one hundred ten percent.
The reality: people try, but there is a limit to how hard and how seriously.
I'm not talking about work outside standard hours here. I'm also not talking about workplaces I haven't seen.
But in the average white collar workplace, taking all the employees as a whole, there is a standard of work which a hard-working person can beat.
Taking the Wins
If you work long enough, you'll encounter a situation where you need all these skills. Having them will help you.
The workplace isn't really just people working hard all the time. You can advance if you're consistent and apply yourself.
Being able to actually work like that will put you at the front - a good place to be.
These steps have helped me to achieve professional success.
I sincerely hope they help any readers out there too.