“What it’s like to work as a mobile app developer” by TechRepublic is a simple but solid list of what it takes to be a mobile application developer, but also a programmer, web designer, and web developer.
The skills mentioned include persistence, ability to keep up with trends and changes in the fast pace of technology, testing to the extreme, and the understanding that this is a new and evolving industry and be ready for the shifting terrain in and around you.
I’d like to add two big skills missing from this list, without which makes the difference between a savvy developer and programmer and a mediocre one. It is the ability to pay attention to details and not make excuses.
It is always the details that bite you back. A missed semi-colon, a misnamed variable, a loop that doesn’t close right, validation errors, little simple things that should be a part of the testing environment but slip by.
I’ve seen many programmers and designers, including myself, blaming the software, the code, everyone else except the person who screwed up and missed the detail that caused the issue. Then the excuses start coming out. Not enough sleep, too much pressure, too many interruptions, trouble at home, traffic jam driving into work, family problems…the list is long and all of these can get in the way of your work.
When we let the excuses consume us, we negative the good work we’ve done. A lot of successes happened in the code before the mistake. Yet we spend a lot of energy on the excuses for that mistake instead of recognizing it as something fixable, a lesson learned or relearned, and move on.
We all have the same excuses. We’d all like them to go away so we could have a perfect working environment. They won’t go away so our ability to handle them must improve.
The first step is to acknowledge that we all have interference in our lives, so let them not interfere.
Let the Worries of Home Stay at Home, and the Worries of Work Stay at Work
Jews have a long standing tradition of the Mezuzah. It is a decorative prayer container on the door frame of homes and offices (and even individual rooms). When you step up to a door with the mezuzah, you pay it tribute and acknowledge the symbolism, each person and religious sect in their own way.
Discussing the mezuzah with a Rabi while I was living in Israel, he explained that part of the task of the mezuzah was to not just remind the person of the blessing upon the home or office, but to remind them that each is a scared space. Before entering the home, leave all the pain and suffering and worries of work outside so you bring yourself completely into your home with your family, giving them the attention and respect they deserve. Before entering the office, do the same, leaving all the worries of family outside, focusing completely on the work at hand which helps to provide for that family.
I liked that notion and began to practice it. When I find that my home life and work life are becoming disruptive to each other, I stop, reconsider, take a deep breath, and compartmentalize the worries of each. I separate what are my work worries that I’m bring home and disrupting my personal life with. I look at the issues in my personal life and notice how they are impacting my work. Understand that they are related and yet separated, I figure out what needs the most attention, give it, fix it, and get my brain back on focus, giving the work or my family the attention and respect they deserve without the distractions of the other.
So pay close attention to detail and don’t let the excuses get in your way. Be proud of your successes as well as your failures as they are both learning experiences.