Stay healthy and keep coding

Do you play, work and learn using a computer? The way you use a computer may be harmful to your health. It can affect your posture, hands and more. When using a computer becomes painful, it can change how you use it. You may think that you need to stop programming.

Stay Healthy and Keep Coding
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

To prevent that, you can focus on these 5 ways to stay healthy and keep coding.

How's your posture?

When you are coding you can get into the flow and forget about maintaining your posture. Check the way you sit or type periodically. If you need a reminder, have your computer remind you a couple times during the day.

Take regular breaks

Both your brain and body benefit from regular breaks. Depending on how you work, you many need to take a break every 45 to 90 minutes. One technique Pomodoro has you taking a 5 minute break every 25 minutes.

Optimize your workspace

When you work at a computer all day, it should suit your needs. Customize your computer to work for you. Try different type of setups. A new keyboard, mouse, chair or even a standing desk.

Move more

Moving can help you think better. Stuck on a problem, go for a walk. Find an exercise that you like to do and schedule it. By making it an appointment, your more likely to do it. Don't want to exercise alone? Get a buddy to exercise with. A buddy can help make exercise fun and make you stick to it so you don't disappoint them.

Eat better

Do you know what you are drinking and eating? Most people when they get busy or into the flow reach for what is easy and available. They don't pay attention to what they eat or drink. What can you do to optimize your eating habits? Make small changes. Swap out your afternoon snack with a fruit or vegetable snack that you enjoy. Buy a water bottle that helps you to drink more water during the day.

Want to increase your productivity as a programmer? You need to optimize the way you take care of yourself and develop a plan for staying healthy. The Healthy Programmer can help you change your work habits.

Moving to Markdown

What is your writing process? Whether you write a blog or technical documentation, you need to have a process. Not just a writing process, but a process for getting your work in a format that can be published on the web. My process is writing, converting to hypertext and publishing. It works, but it can be cumbersome adding the html code to my writing. What can I use instead? Markdown.

Moving to Markdown
Photo by: Free-Photos

What is Markdown?

Markdown is a way to write for the web. It is text to html conversion tool. The goal was to make it as readable as possible without looking like it was marked up with a bunch of formatting code. This simple system was created by John Gruber.

When you write HTML, it can get very complicated looking with the tags and extra formating:
HTML Code Screenshot

With Markdown, it looks much simpler:
Markdown screenshot

Changing your writing process

Markdown is easy to learn. The syntax is very simple. In five minutes or so, you can start writing in Markdown. You can use either a text editor or an app for Markdown.

What if you don’t want to use a special app? You can install it in IDEs like Atom or Visual Studio. With an IDE like Atom, you can use the preview mode to see how it will look in a browser before you publish your writing.

Want to get started learning Markdown? Start with this Markdown tutorial. It goes through each concept one lesson at a time. You can also use this cheatsheet to look up how do write Markdown.

Are you a maker or mender?

A maker is a person who likes to make and create things. They like building an idea from scratch and founding startups. Most developers are makers. They enjoy the process of designing, developing, experimenting and building a minimal viable product (MVP). A mender is a person who likes to maintain a product. They help it to growth and change to meet their customers needs over time. About 10% of developers are menders. They enjoy updating, refactoring, testing and remodeling your code. You can depend on menders to help you grow and maintain your products.

Are you a maker or mender
Photo by: picjumbo_com

What kind of developer are you?

You are a maker if you:

  • Enjoy tackling a problem and creating a brand new solution
  • Like to experiment with new ideas and techniques
  • Get bored if you have to repeat the same tasks
  • Find refactoring code, fixing bugs and handling customer support requests to be boring

You are a mender if you;

  • Find refactoring code, fixing bugs and handling customer support requests to be interesting
  • Enjoy fine tuning or updating existing code
  • Get stressed if you have to tackle a new problem and build a solution from scratch
  • Like to work best without hard deadlines

Not sure? Andrea Goulet of CorgieBytes explains the difference.

Staying motivated as a maker or mender

Developers love to write code. Makers and menders are motivated by different things. To create your best code, you need to know what motivates you.

As a maker, you work the best when you can experiment, create prototypes and develop ideas under a deadline. Makers are like home builders. They design, build and move onto the next house.

Menders work best when they have a number of tasks to complete. They enjoy deep diving into the code and fixing bugs and refactoring it. Menders are like home remodelers. They tweak, rearrange and fix what it wrong with an existing house.

When you write code, you have to maintain it. You can make your code more reliable and secure. Legacy Code Rocks is a podcast for menders or anyone who has to maintain code.

Tips for Building Your Developer Portfolio

Developers like to build stuff. Apps, websites, apis or a quick little script that does something quickly and easily for you. A developer portfolio shows your best work. Whether it is a single page website or a full website with a blog, your portfolio shows your unique style and approach to solving problems.

Tips For Building Your Developer Portfolio
Photo by: Fancycrave1

Tips for building your portfolio

1. Start with a plan
Treat your portfolio like it is a project for a client or your employer. Plan it out. Think about what pages you want to create, what projects you are going to include and additional resources like screenshots you are going to need. Write your copy and sketch out your design. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to showcase your best work.

2. Consider what tools you use
You can build your portfolio with whatever tools you want. Whether you decide to build it from scratch or use an existing framework, don’t choose to use a framework or technology because you can. You want to make it easy for you to maintain.

3. Buy your own domain name
Why? With your own domain name, you control how it looks and what you can do with it. If you want to create new projects like an app or a tutorial website, you can. Your own domain name makes it easier for potential clients or employers to find you.

4. Make sure it works on mobile
You want your website to be readable and look good on as many platforms as possible. There are different ways to test your website for mobile from resizing your browser to testing on a mobile device. Choose the method that works best for you.

5. Choose your best work
Don’t show everything that you have built. Choose projects that demonstrate your current skills. If you develop mobile applications, don’t include projects from when you created websites for WordPress. Be picky. Show the pieces that reflect who you currently are.

See how other developers created their portfolios

When building your first one or updating an old one, it helps to see what other developers have done. Be inspired by other developers.

  • Brent Krueger is a freelance web designer and developer. He uses a beautiful photo of the state capitol building in Madison, WI in his website’s header.
  • Christina Richardson is a UX Researcher and Designer. She has a one page portfolio with a timeline of her career in UX and an infographic of her design process.
  • Jess Johnson is a full stack developer. He uses great typography and a simple color scheme.
  • Ali Spitel is a developer. Her website has a minimalist design with simple navigation and a great use of color.
  • Kyle Ledbetter is a designer and developer. He uses a mix of background colors and images for each section. In his About, he uses the states as subtle background images.

Using Trello For Your Projects

What tools do you use to manage your projects? Do you track them using lists, a bullet journal or a project management tool like Trello? With Trello, you can create a meal planner, a weekly to-do list, manage clients and development projects. You create as many board, cards and lists as you need.

Using Trello For Your Projects
Photo by: RawPixel

With all of this flexibility, it can be a challenge to figure out how to best work with Trello. Use the following tips to make this project management tool work for both your personal and professional projects.

1. Create a projects board

If you are like most people, you may have more than one project to keep track of. A projects board can help you to plan which projects that you want to work on next. Some people like to plan the next six months or year out. Use this board to provide on overview of what you are working on.

2. Make one board for each project

It may be tempting to place all projects on one board. You may find that it grows rather quickly and becomes hard to manage. A single board for each project keeps things simpler and cleaner.

3. Create as many lists as you need

Trello is based on the Kanban method, which starts with three lists: To-Do, Doing and Done. For some projects, these three lists are all you need. For other project, you are going to need more. Make as many as you need.

4. Give your labels meaningful names

Trello provides different colored labels with no names. It is up to you to decide what they mean. You can use these labels to help manage your tasks. For example, you may use red for Stopped or Blocked tasks, yellow for waiting and orange for annoying issues.

5.Use the inspiration boards

Why create a board from scratch? Trello has a public library of boards that others have created and are available for you to use. Use one these boards to get started on your next project.

Looking for more tips and inspiration on how to use Trello?

Trello’s blog has helpful tips and tutorials on using this project management tool more productively and creatively.