Become A Better Developer Through Tinkering
Tool tweaking often times gets a bad rap in the programmer community. Everyone has heard their fair share of ‘yakshaving’ or ‘bike shedding’. The definition of these two concepts are as follows (for the uninitiated): Focusing on a myriad of smaller, meta tasks that don’t have any direct correlation with what the original task resembled.
This concept is something that we as productive (read: !10x) developers need to balance out. However, taking strides to be purposeful and make tinkering fun, we can flip this negativity on its head. Without much more ado, let’s dive into how we can make these tinkering sessions less of a time suck and more of a FTW!.
Be Invigorated By The Small Stuff
Everyone loves small wins. No really, this is a fact of life. One doesn’t need to work in an industry that is predominately ‘knowledge based’ to appreciate the small wins. Tinkering gives folks an almost constant stream of small wins, due to the minute, nearly incremental changes that makes up the act. Some of these small wins could be finding a keyboard that hurts less to peck at all day, or tweaking a bash script that saves you ten minutes of repetitive headache. These ‘projects’ if you will, usually address pain-points that seep into every day life. They aren’t huge, and sometimes aren’t solved with the act of programming but, they’re worth fixing to speed up everyone’s productivity.
Record Every Bit Of Friction
Focused tinkering will lead to less and less yakshaving. Here’s an idea: keep a list. This can be of items that forces a developer to do the same thing, in the same form, and multiple times a day. Build a system that allows for collection of these items in a speedy manner. Then take time, either at the end of the day or on a slow weekend to chip-away at the tasks that excite.
Make Development Better For All
Tinkering is the very reason why and how we have such great projects like Boxen. Someone wrote down a pain-point in the development process and decided to build something as a result. Making a local development environment, or one specific to a business is great. However, sharing this product(open source) or solution(blog post) with the world gives back to the community.
Although yakshaving and bike shedding have a distinct air of negativity associated with them, they don’t always have to be a waste of time. Write something down now and tinker on it later. The small win will make you a happier, more productive programmer and maybe help out the community in tandem.