Wednesday, 9 January 2013

2013: A Programmer's Resolutions

This time last year an article did the rounds that featured 12 month-long resolutions aimed at developers - it was very interesting and insightful with some good ideas and it generated a lot of discussion and interest around the web.

So this year I thought it would be fun to set out some NerdAbility New Year Resolutions, I hope you find them interesting/inspiring and feel free to adopt as few or many as suits you! (and of course, the month names are there for fun, they can be done in any month/time period you like)  

(I have intentionally not gone back and re-read last years list, as they were good points that would probably just get stuck in my head and would result in this list being a clone of those ideas - but don't shout if there is still some overlap!)

Get Real
Month 1 - January
2012 was very much the year of the Raspberry Pi, at just ~£25 it has made working with the physical a very real possibility for many developers previously used to working purely with software. Step away from the software for a month and make something real. Even if it's just a cat toy that sends tweets, or a home made spice rack, making something physical will give you a different perspective, a different set of challenges to building software, and will likely help you tackle software problems with a different mindset.

Get Healthy
Month 2 - February
This is probably an obvious one, and probably one that should last for more than a month. As professional developers we spend a lot of time sitting down, and when you spend some of your free-time programming as well it leaves little time for physical exercise. More and more reports show these days that sitting down more than 8 hours a day is detrimental to your health, so we all really need to keep on top of this one! is a great resource for health and fitness and you can get most of the information for free. If you are new to fitness try following a program like this one which can be done at home just using your body weight.

Get Aesthetic
Month 3 - March
For some of us, this will come natural (the designers among us anyhow), but for lots of developers aesthetics and visual designs are not something that need to be considered. However, understanding aesthetics and good UI design can be good on the CV but can also help developers understand customer rational, User Experience (UX) and the more visual elements of building an effective product. Plus with more and more developers building mobile apps, it is often down to them to make them visually pleasing and to ensure a good UX. If you are gunning for a job in a small startup then design skills (or at least understanding of design issues) are an enviable string to your bow!

Get Involved
Month 4 - April
There are loads of active technology communities these days, both online and in the real world. Get involved in a community! Whether this be an online forum or q'n'a site (you know we are always preaching the many benefits of Stack Overflow) or in the real world in the form of a local meetup (not heard of any local meetups? head over to - you'll be surprised how many you find!).  Being active in any kind of community can be beneficial in so many ways - you can help junior members in a mentor role, you can learn from more experienced, you can network, you can find out about new jobs and you can make friends!

Get Introspective
Month 5 - May
How long have you been at your current job? are you happy there? even if you are, it is always to be aware of what the job market is like, what roles you might be able to do, what you might like to do. Even if it is just thinking about your career plan and where you see yourself in a few years (even if its still at your current company). The tech job market in the UK is really busy and its a really great time to be a developer right now, so its good to know your options.

Get Creative
Month 6 - June
Create something! Start a personal project, put it up on GitHub and spend a month working on it. Whether it be something you work on alone or with friends, get it started and see where it takes you! Personal projects are great for your CV (demonstrates actual ability and lets employers see your code plus shows you to be pro-active and motivated in learning and working on projects), they also let you brush up on your skills and maybe use technologies you wouldn't otherwise get the chance to play with (stuck using Java5 in work because of policies? Your personal project can be Java7, latest Spring nightly builds, Groovy 2.x, anything you want!).  If at the end of the month its not going anywhere, then at least you have brushed up your skills, have a great piece for your CV and spent time well.

Get Trendy
Month 7 - July
In tech one thing you can always bank on and that is trends and fads, there is always something in trend in tech, and it inevitably later starts getting a hard time (see the stick MongoDb got after shooting to fame). But whilst some tech trends may be a flash in the pan, many of them do see out the time to become established technology - The current trend for Javascript being a great example with the likes of NodeJS offering complete JS solutions. So why not spend a month learning what they are about? If nothing else you will be able to contribute something more to the latest water fountain banter.

Get Mobile
Month 8 - August
Its fairly safe to say that mobile isn't going away, and with iPads outselling Windows laptops this last year, its also safe to say that if you start learning to develop apps for iOS or Android you are in a pretty stable market place. Get involved and write an app for your phone. Android is free to do, with awesome SDK and plugins for several (free) IDEs, go ahead and get involved. Another great demonstrable piece for the CV and presents different challenges such as catering for reduced power/memory, different device sizes, UI design, etc.

Get Wordy
Month 9 - September
Start a blog. Blogging can be quite therapeutic and is also a great way to give back to the tech community with insights or tutorials of how you solved a problem. With free platforms like Google's Blogger and its so easy to get up and blogging in seconds. But don't feel as though just because you work in tech you have to blog about tech - write about anything you ate passionate or opinionated about, be it movies, food, art, comics, or home decor. It will improve your writing skills and another way to show off your skills, knowledge and passion on your CV.

Get Out
Month 10 - October
So yeah. Get outside. Spend some time to things you love (other than tech stuff), go to the cinema, go on holiday, visit interesting places you've never been, go to the pub. Just have some fun. After a month spent in the pub or on holiday, maybe skip to Decembers activity? It sure sounds good to us!

Get Schooled
Month 11 - November
Learn something new, take a new course, learn a language, take a cake decorating course. Expand your mind. We will be doing a post soon about becoming a life long learner and sharing some awesome resources for continual learning. There's loads of interesting stuff out there to learn about.

If you are interested in picking up some new coding skills there are plenty of cool courses at or!

Get Lazy
Month 12 - December
The cynical among you may think this is just because we ran out of ideas. Or just couldn't be bothered ourselves. But really, take some time off, spend it with family, friends etc. After all, that's what life is all about.

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