Technical expertise, logical thinking and problem solving are often used to describe developers’ most essential skills. And while you can not become a developer if you are lacking in those aspects, your career will suffer if those are all the skills you aim to improve.
More than ever, employers are looking beyond technical skill and to personality features and soft skills. Communication, time and task management, active listening and emotional intelligence are often pointed out as a necessity. Yet I would argue that, for a developer, there is a skill much more important – attention to detail.
And here is why
Certain things are foundational to most skills. Such as being able to comprehend what you are seeing and come up with different ways to use the information you have to achieve your goals. One such ability is attention to detail. Being able to notice tiny features and use them effectively and efficiently in combination with others is invaluable to developers. It can refer to seeing errors in our own work before turning it in, or it can be directed more towards taking the time to perfect small features of our work.
Here is an example. You can have a functional program, fulfilling your base duty. But if you take the time to write clean code, you display attention to detail that later leads to easier debugging and integration process. The more that people put in extra effort, the easier it is to grow the product and further, the easier it is to debug and meet the pre-defined deadlines.
Aside from merely noticing things, attention to detail is a crucial element to growing your technical skills. Here’s how:
When it comes to entering the IT industry as a developer, you need to have a basic knowledge of technology and mathematics, but it is far from a job that you secure once and then sit on comfortably. In order to maintain your position in the company and the industry as a whole, you have to keep up with the constant change in direction and technologies used.
Having the ability to notice small gaps in your knowledge as well as finding the right resources to fill them is a must. Having acute attention to detail helps you achieve that.
Logical thinking refers to connecting all of the information at your disposal and being able to come up with appropriate solutions to the problem at hand. While mathematical knowledge is invaluable, you can only do so much with the information you have been given. Reading between the lines and taking advantage of every detail is going to help you greatly in your work.
As a result, you can make creative software solutions that run smoothly and efficiently.
It is impossible to talk about software development without touching on problem-solving skills, especially considering that this is the foundation of technology – creating efficient, innovative ways to make processes easier and automated.
Often elaborate and effective solutions perform the best, so being able to make every little part of the product work well will be of great help. For example, debugging is one critical aspect of development. Even if you are not a part of the testing team, having the ability to notice the errors in your own code and correct them in time can save a lot of struggle and frustration. Not to mention cutting down on production time and smoothly meeting deadlines.
How to improve your radar?
Now, we can talk endlessly about why it is a good thing to notice the small things. However, unless you are naturally adept, it can be a challenge to develop the skill, to begin with.
The mind works just like a muscle. The more you train it, the better you are at performing. Just like lifting weights at the gym makes it, so it is easy for you to carry your groceries, training your mindset and brain function is possible. It is, however more subtle and often harder to cultivate.
- Remove distractions
Clean up your workspace, turn off notifications on your phone and minimise multitasking. Direct all of your attention to whatever it is you are working on. Chances are you will finish it quicker and be able to pick up on things you would not if your brainpower is so thinly distributed.
- Know how to reset your focus
When it comes to attention span, it is not always too high. Even if you have removed distractions your brain will likely start to wander after a while. And that is natural! You can also counter it. Close your eyes and sit back for a few minutes. Then go back a little bit in your work. This serves as a reminder where you left things and can help you remember what you were trying to do.
- Take breaks
Speaking of taking a few minutes to reset, often breaks are seriously underrated. If you are stuck on a problem, having a small chat with a colleague can help you get to the lightbulb moment. Sometimes taking your attention away and letting your brain rest and reset can help relieve the pressure and improve your brain function.
No switch will do wonders and have you master your attention immediately, it is a slow process of building up your mindset to seek the details. Yet if you are generally mindful, it is possible to reach this skill – the more you do it the easier it is!
To sum up
There is so much you can do as a developer. And further, you should challenge yourself in your personal life. Take a step back from all of the noise and look for the small things that make a difference. As a result, you will notice significant improvements in the quality of work you produce as well as the level of stress you experience trying to finish projects.