Learn to open 10 tabs.
Seriously. Tabs have a bad reputation, but once I started opening 10 of them, I began to take off as a programmer. There’s a reason why this one small trick is so significant to the growth of your career.
And it takes less than 10 minutes to learn.
In programming, you’re going to run into problems, error messages, and situations in which your program isn’t doing what you think it should be doing. How you react to these scenarios is the difference between being a beginner programmer and an experienced one. How so?
- Experienced programmers immediately acknowledge what they don’t know and set out to find the answers.
- Beginner programmers don’t understand that they have to begin looking for answers in the first place.
The biggest hurdle that beginner programmers need to clear is the mentality that they should know everything. They tend to think like this:
“I don’t know, and I feel stupid because of it.”
You’re not supposed to know the answer to every problem. Over time, you realize that everything is figure-outable. You learn that you need to be able to self-correct and teach yourself new concepts on the fly. It’s just really tough to start making this transition.
The easiest way to begin leveling up as a programmer is to start opening 10 tabs.
I call this the 10-Tab Rule. It’s a simple 3-step process that teaches you how to think like an experienced programmer.
Step 1: When problems arise, articulate the problem in a well thought-out search query.
Step 2: Search it using Google and open each of the top 10 results in new tabs.
Step 3: Read or skim each of the tabs, then return to your code.
This simple routine, which takes less than 10 minutes to learn, pushes you to solve problems in a new way. It changes the negative mentality that you’re used to having as a beginner into something more positive:
“I don’t know, let’s figure this out as quickly as possible.”
This is a subtle switch, but it’s important. And as it turns out, with Google, the answers to nearly all of your questions are at the touch of your fingertips.
That’s not to say that Google’s homepage will answer your question. Instead, a huge part of becoming a better developer is figuring out how to write an effective 20-50 character description of your problem. That’s not a lot of room to communicate what’s wrong. But doing so repeatedly helps you make a gigantic leap as a programmer.
Using search to find the answers to your problems forces you to fully understand your problems.
This is precisely why opening 10 tabs is so important to your growth as a programmer. It’s not the simple act of opening the tabs. Instead, it’s what that routine makes you do. It forces you to get into the habit of:
- Identifying your problems
- Expressing them clearly
- Figuring them out using the resources at your disposal.
So start opening 10 tabs. It’s something that you can start doing right now (in about 10 minutes) that will help you for the rest of your career.
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