How to Establish a Good Coding Routine

I really like the idea of using #100DaysofCode as a way to build a strong coding habit. The idea is to motivate yourself through public accountability to do something every day. 

But what happens when the public is not accountable?

What happens when on the first day you throw out the hashtag and expect the "Great Job!" and "Off to a good start!" and instead get 0 likes and no replies?

What happens when you get 10 likes on the first day, 7 on the second, 3 on the third and 0 by day four?

What happens when people are hateful about what you have completed or reply with something condescending?

What happens when you miss your first day and no one notices... 

There are many ways to get into the habit of doing something. Most quick habit-forming methods (including #100daysofCode) revolve around our desire for dopamine, that thing that tells our brain we are happy and should do more of whatever we just did. The problem is as we do more of a thing, we don't get as much of a dopamine rush. That's when we lose interest and start doing other things. The tips below are ways to keep the dopamine spike high.

A #100DaysofJournaling

Along with sending out tweets record your progress in a journal or journaling app. You can look at it at the end of the project and show how much you've grown.

Jamie Taylor from DevOtaku and Waffling Taylors did this with DotNetCoreBlog. He not only wrote code for 100 days straight but succeeded in writing code daily for more than a year with this approach. Sharing your story as a full timeline shows not only the success that you pulled off but the process (and the failures) that came with it. You can use this as a reminder of your past successes and encourage others to keep it up!

Go Big with your Plan

The 100DaysofCode page suggests that you first develop a plan for your 100 days. Say to yourself, "by the end of this challenge, I will do X using the skills I've learned. Perhaps you will release your code as an application or website. Or maybe you will give a talk about the things you've learned at a meetup or conference. 

Make the completion of the project a capstone with a gesture that will give you a tremendous payoff.

Make Failure Worse than Success

The reason establishing a good habit is hard is that there is often no upfront negative consequence for failure. We think that shirking our duties is the worse thing ever until it happens (and believe me, it will happen) and no one notices. The next time you think to yourself, no one noticed the last time. Your brain may even enjoy the thing you do instead, sending new dopamine signals and making a new unintentional habit. 

If you create a punishment for failure, it will incentivize success. DO NOT punish yourself for things outside of your control or that reinforce a bad habit. Instead, make a good but difficult decision as a consequence of your actions.

Here's a crazy idea! Set a recurring task in your task manager to donate $10 (from your Starbucks or McDonalds fund) to a local charity if you don't complete your other task. While you are doing a noble thing in helping someone else, you will probably not like the idea of skipping your morning breakfast trips in order to do so. Want to make it even more painful? Give the money to someone else to do as they please. 

Celebrate every Small Wins and Work to Apply What You've Learned

Remember that you aren't taking these challenges just for the sake of tweeting out that you did something. You are trying to build a very good habit that will make you better in some way. You don't have to wait until something becomes a habit to take advantage of it. 

I recommend that you learn things with the intent of using them immediately.  Learning to code? Build a small script or a piece of a larger project with the things you just learned. Use your end goal to outline what you will learn. I like to outline the goal and steps to get there. Then I put the outline into a Mindmap to get a visual representation. I use MindNode, but any mind mapping tool or even pen/paper or a whiteboard works fine.

Once you have done something, celebrate it some way. Even if the accomplishment is super small celebrate anyway. Maybe you have a guilty pleasure (or a favorite restaurant) that you only indulge in as a way to celebrate.  Or you take time to go to a favorite place. For me, I stand up and do a silly dance. It works as a little exercise to get the blood flowing and even though I look silly, it's fun and makes me happy!

Remember Why You are Doing This

The middle is always where things get bland and fuzzy. No matter how you try to keep your momentum going, there will be a point where you stumble. Just remember what your overall goal is and try to keep your eye on the final result. If you get lost along the way, take a second to step back, refresh your vision, and make the appropriate adjustments to get back on track.

You got this! And if you want to tweet to us, we promise to cheer you on and help encourage you to keep up the amazing work!

Enjoy Completing Small Tasks

Enjoy Completing Small Tasks

Don't be the Only One

Don't be the Only One