How to Think Like a Programmer

Think Like a Programmer

How to Think Like a Programmer

Being a programmer is more than just being able to do something in particular. It’s an entirely different way of looking at the world.

When you first learn to code, there are a lot of decisions to make. Where should you store that variable? What’s the best way to write a loop? Thinking like a programmer means knowing how to approach those problems and make good decisions.

Most people jump straight to the answer, but programmers analyze questions by looking at the logic and structure of the problem.

But the question is, why you should think like a programmer? And here’re the reasons:

  • you start thinking about things logically
  • you can solve complex problems easily
  • you become positive and optimistic, and
  • you do not give up at any point

In this article, you will understand how programmers think, how they organize their thoughts, and why they do the things that they do.

How to think like a programmer

Here are some tips that will help you think like a programmer, but before that just remember that:

Programming is like a language — the more you practice, the better you get.

Break Bigger Problems into Smaller Problems

1. Break big problems into smaller problems

As programmers, always try to look for better ways to do something. For that, you can look back at previous work, or work of others, and see that there was a way to make it easier.

Working through problems is how programmers learn. Sometimes you can get stuck on a problem that seems like it will never be resolved and that can cause serious frustration and you can even start thinking of giving up.

However, this is not the correct way of thinking about a problem. Instead of thinking about solving the entire problem at once, think about solving a part of the problem and then moving on to another part of the problem. You can then combine these smaller solutions and you will have the solution to the entire problem.

Keep breaking down parts of your program into smaller problems until you have something small enough to solve – then solve it!

2. Learn to never give up

No matter how experienced you are as a programmer, it’s very common to have difficulties and bugs when working on a project. It’s kind of a bummer, but it is what it is. You will have to solve whatever problems you get as a programmer, much like life.

At times, you will a bug that will stop your whole workflow, you will feel frustrated as your code will not be working as expected. But hold a little longer and try a few more times before thinking of giving up.

At last, just remember that it’s easy to quit when you’re programming, especially if you’re a beginner. But there’s no such thing as programming talent; it’s just a skill that can be mastered like any other.

And remember, the more you practice, the better you’ll get.

The most important thing is not to give up!

3. Practice, practice, and practice

Practice makes the person perfect.

Practice is the best way to become a better programmer and improve your skills. The more you practice, the better programmer you will become.

Learning to program is a lot like learning to write well. No matter how much you study, you can’t get better without writing and rewriting, over and over again.

Also, do not try to memorize things. If required, feel free to take a look at the syntax.

4. Do not take shortcuts

It can be very bad to take shortcuts as a programmer, they always come back to bite you. You might think that you’re being clever by doing a quick fix for now, but later when things go wrong, you’ll be kicking yourself for not taking the time to do the thing properly.

But how do you avoid taking shortcuts?

The best way is to plan ahead. If you know you’re going to need something at some point in the future, that’s the perfect time to learn about it and create it now.

Read the Documentation

5. Go through the documentation first

Always read the documentation.

That’s good advice, but it’s easier said than done. Documentation can be written in boring, stilted English, and it might not be as thorough as you’d like.

Many programmers don’t read the documentation because they’re too busy — justifiably so — to spend time on a task that doesn’t seem all that necessary or relevant. Often, this turns out to be a mistake. Many of the tasks we attempt to do require more prior knowledge than we realize.

The point is: don’t take anything for granted. If you can’t figure something out immediately, stop and take five minutes to look at the docs. You may just find the answer you need.

6. Stay positive and optimistic

Staying positive and optimistic as a programmer is crucial for your success. When you are constantly working on a computer, it is easy to get negative and feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that needs to be done. However, by staying positive you will be a happier person and can achieve more in your career.

To stay positive and optimistic, here are some points to help:

  • take regular breaks from the work – do not put all your life into coding, a bit of fun is equally important
  • stay active in the online communities – staying in touch with like-minded people definitely helps you stay positive
  • plan ahead – a lot of programmers recommend having a proper plan from earlier, it makes their work easier

7. Learn to collaborate with other programmers

Collaboration is a very important skill that you can develop as a programmer. Because on most of the projects, most likely, you will work in a team and for that, you need to have effective communication skills.

For collaborating, you will need to have the working knowledge of Git. At NextStacks, we provide a free course on Git that you can enroll in.

Another benefit of coding with your peers is that you can get your questions and doubts cleared quickly.

Final words

You should remember that thinking like a programmer is a two-way street. You’re not just trying to learn the logic behind computer programming, but you also want to learn how to better solve problems in your day-to-day life.

Programming is a skill that can be both an art and a science, and it’s up to you to decide whether you see it as either.

Related: Know the Benefits of Learning to Code

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