5 Steps To Become a Better Software Developer

Adam Drake
7 min readJul 1, 2024


Programming can be fun! Especially when looking at the back of a monitor. Obviously produced by the incredible and amazing AI tool — chatjeepeetee

I assume if you are reading this that you are a developer of some sorts or maybe you are interested in becoming one. Either way, wherever you are along the never ending journey to coding mastery there is always room to improve and improve we must! (For what else are we to do with our finite days on this pale blue dot spinning around our giant blazing star?)

Therefore in this article I would like to go through 5 of the habits and ideas I have used over the years that have helped me become a better developer and more importantly — a better person.

Find Your Niche

I love the phrase ‘A jack of all trades and a master of none’. I don’t really know why but probably because it resinates with a strong belief that I hold — That mastery is the ultimate goal for any man.

A jack of all trades suggests one spreads themselves too thin. That they haven’t gone into any depth on something. That they are loitering around the edge of many things without committing anything of substance to one particular thing. For me this is not a good trait and something I want to avoid in my life.

By sticking to one thing you are able to go deep and with depth comes the best learnings.

The best way to mastery is to find one thing and stick to it. In software this could take on many forms. Maybe a specific language like Go or Javascript, maybe a specific area like DevOps or Backend or maybe you could get obsessed with keyboards and you become a master of those. By sticking to one thing you are able to go deep and with depth comes the best learnings. It’s in these areas that you find knowledge that is really valuable and you learn the things that will make you stand out amongst your peers.

So find your niche and go deep.

Take Sunday Off

It’s easy in this day and age with all the productivity videos that you see on social media to think that you have to be grinding everyday of every week. That if you want to get ahead you just have to put in more time and more effort than the next man.

Due to the way our society is set up, one of the best times to find some down time is on a Sunday. It was traditionally a day of rest for many reasons.

In my opinion this is nonsense. Our society is currently obsessed with the ‘individual’ and it’s not healthy. You are a human being at the end of the day and you time on this planet is finite. Perspective is truly needed and reflection can really help with that.

Self reflection brings you so many advantages including:

  • Better self awareness
  • Better decision making skills
  • Enhanced personal growth

For self-reflection though you need time. Due to the way our society is set up, one of the best times to find some down time is on a Sunday. It was traditionally a day of rest for many reasons and even to this day there is still something about a Sunday that enables it to be a natural choice for taking a day off.

And I mean a complete break from all software related activities. No coding. No reading about code. No Youtube videos about code. Nothing. Get outside, spend some quality time with some friends or family and just completely detach from the software world for at least one day. Come Monday morning you will be bright and fresh and ready to go.

Take Sunday off and take a proper break.

Work On a Side Project With Someone Else

I have always been a believer that side projects can really help you grow as a developer. You have the opportunity to try new things out, you can code without any pressure and you get to flex your creative muscles.

However, I would go one step further and say you should code on these side projects with someone else too if you can. Coding with someone else adds a whole new dimension to the endeavour and brings different things to the table:

  1. You get to learn from other people. You can see how other developers approach different problems and learn what works and what doesn’t.
  2. You can ask questions. If you get stuck you can ask questions with whoever you are working with. They can also ask you questions so you can develop your skill of explaining concepts which usually ends up in your knowledge expanding too.
  3. It’s like a rehearsal for a real job. If you don’t have a developer job at the moment then this is a perfect opportunity to develop in an environment which will likely closely resemble a real world scenario.

Working on side projects by yourself is good, working on side projects with someone else is better.

Read Other People’s Code

I learnt this tip from a friend and it really changed the way that I look at coding. When you start coding, you have these ideas of how your reality will look like once you know what you are doing. This usually involves hacking away at some code deep into the night with terminal windows all over your monitors logging out infinite rows of code that only you can interpret. However, you soon realise that this is a long way from reality.

On a day to day basis, for a software developer, they don’t actually spend that much time writing new code. Sure you write some and it really depends on the company you work for and what stage in their life cycle they are but generally you don’t write that much. You spent much more time reading other people’s code.

This could be through code reviews, picking up some legacy code that needs refactoring of a new feature or figuring out why this 10 year old internal app is suddenly not rendering the UI it should be. Therefore it just makes sense to get good at it.

With the advent of AI this task has become easier in the fact you can now ask AI to explain certain parts of code for you but I still feel it is a skill that a developer should continually work on.

The best way to get better at reading other people’s code is to read other people’s code. From my experience there isn’t really any shortcut for this.

After a while you develop instincts which can really help on pull requests to narrow down on parts of code that could prove troublesome. Also, you learn how different developers tackle different problems which you can then apply yourself.

So get good at reading other people’s code.

Pair Programming

This ties in a little with some of the other tips I have given in this article but I think it deserves its own separate section. From my personal experience I rarely do pair programming but when I do I get so much out of it.

You get to see how other developers think and code in real time. You get to see how they approach different problems and how they implement their solutions in the code. You get to see little things like what extensions they are using, how they use the terminal and how they navigate around their developer environment.

When you do this with enough different developers you really gain insight about what works and what doesn’t. What tools to use and which ones to avoid. You also get to see where other developers are struggling and you can then provide you own insight and potentially unblock them.

For a team of developers who are working on projects together pair programming can be a really valuable practice. Be warned though, its usually something you have to force a little and that may be uncomfortable at first. But I can guarantee, it is well worth the effort.


There are so many things you can do to improve at your craft and coding is no different. I have listed 5 specific things that I think have helped me over the years but there are many more I could come up with.

I think as long as the intention is there to improve you will find a way and there is no one right path. Everyone will have different ways and this is what makes life so rich and diverse. If you have some tips that have helped you become a better developer please share in the comments.

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Adam Drake

I'm a Frontend Developer and I write about all things Frontend Related - Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. Based in Prague, CZ