If you want to become a better developer, a great thing to do is to frequently set aside some 30 minutes per day to learn something new and tinker with that newly acquired knowledge. I call this satisfying the Daily Tinker Quota.
I have been doing this for a while now and I have been very productive. I learned new things I was able to integrate into my websites and apps. (Not that I don’t learn new things at work, this gives me the required space to allow for tinkering that isn’t always possible in a work environment.)
All of this progress was driven by my desire to learn new things, every day:
- I added a GitHub integration for PHP Monitor on my website
- I added two-factor authentication to my website
- I reworked various parts of my website to prepare for Laravel 9
- I gave a few web pages an overhaul
- I released a few new versions of PHP Monitor and started work on 5.x
There is one key rule: learn something new, and put that knowledge to use, preferably in a challenging situation or scenario. Just refactoring something isn’t enough, and just internalising knowledge isn’t sufficient. Both are needed for optimal results.
Where do you get the knowledge, though? Sometimes this can be a tidbit learned from Twitter but sometimes it’s doing a deep dive into Laravel source code to find out how something works. Sometimes I watch a YouTube video of a talk.
Regardless, learning new stuff every day is very valuable. It makes you more valuable where you work. Think of it as getting a brand new tool in your toolbox every day.
Like a package being delivered that you can’t wait to open, knowledge is quite the same: perhaps not quite as tangible, but its presence will be felt. (Of course this also ties neatly back into my blogpost about habits as daily coding is also a habit.)