Stop Relying on Willpower — Do This Instead to Consistently Improve Your Coding Skills

94% of people who start online coding programs quit.

Coding is hard especially when you’re getting started. You will only become better if you code consistently every day. But you cannot build a daily coding habit by just relying on willpower.

The solution is to define personal rules and processes that set you up for success.

Harness the power of checklists

Checklists can guide you when you are lost.

I have a checklist for my mornings. Every morning I have a 2-hour block of alone time for personal development. My checklist is not set in stone and it constantly improves based on my daily feedback.

The checklist is very simple and it guarantees that I make the most of my mornings no matter how I feel that day.

  1. Brush my teeth — 15 min
  2. Take a walk — 30 min
  3. Code — 1 hr
  4. Plan for the day — 15 min

Make internal rules and don’t break them

“You can sit here and write or you can sit here and do nothing, but you can’t sit here and do anything else” — Neil Gaiman

I have a similar rule for my 1-hour coding session and it is very effective.

I am allowed to do nothing during that one hour but if I want to do anything it has to be coding.

Even if I feel unmotivated, I will choose coding after 10 minutes of doing nothing as it gets boring.

What if you only have to imagine coding?

Sometimes you just don’t want to write code.

When this happens, tell yourself to only think about the coding challenge. Doing this exercise for a few minutes gets you motivated to actually do what you imagined doing.

I do this during my 30-minute walk in the morning where I think about my day and I imagine how I would approach each item on my checklist and todo list for the day.

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