So, lets get started.
- Constantly Study
- This one actually requires that you have at least a little passion for what you do. Sitting down with a book for half an hour to an hour a few days a week isn't going to kill you or take away from your family life
- Master Your IDE
- Take 5 minutes at the beginning of the day to learn ONE new thing. You will have recouped the time several times by the end of the day. They payoff occurs every day
- Extend and Customize Your IDE
- Granted, this can take a few hours. But, you really get the payoff in crunch time because you can work faster. You also get a mental payoff, by letting the machine perform the boring tasks.
- Master Your Environment
- Much like mastering your IDE, invest a couple of minutes and reap the benefits almost instantly and continuously.
- Learn a New Programming Language
- A professional programmer should be able to pick up a new language in a day, max two. Sure it takes longer to learn the libraries, best practices, and standards around a new language but, just give it 30 minutes to an hour a day. You don't need to *constantly* be learning a new language. Do it during the slower work periods. You've got a whole year for crying out loud.
- Learn New Human Languages
- Just pick up a Berlitz program and listen to it during your commute instead of Howard Stearn. Your brain will thank you.
- Re-Study Your Basic CompSci
- Refactor Some Old Code
- Write About Your Code
- Just do these during lulls at work; or on your laptop while sitting in meetings. Like learning a new programming language, you don't need to do these everyday. Just take it out of your Slashdot/Digg/Reddit/DZone time. Hell, if you found the time to read this post...
You don't have to give up your life to do things to develop yourself as a programmer. Just use a few minutes here and there. Make good use of down time. These things provide a cumulative effect.
One of the best things you can do is to get out and have a life. Work on the car, chop up some wood in the garage and turn it into something. Take the kids to the zoo. Do things that make you use your brain.
Get a different perspectives on the world.