Five Ways to Stimulate a Developer’s Mind

We are all in constant need of self improvement. We search for ways to better our mind, body, and spirit. There are many ways to stimulate our minds. We all are familiar with GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out). Like our programs, what we choose to put into our minds and body will affect our outcome. Here are five things that I have found helpful in improving mind stimulation:

  1. Frequent Exercise
  2. Find an Outlet
  3. Share Ideas with Others
  4. Experimentation
  5. Continually Learn Something New

Frequent Exercise

It is stereotyped that the typical developer does little exercise besides the finger exercises that coding brings. The image of a scrawny pale-skinned coder who spends the majority of his life in the basement comes to mind. It is essential to break through that stereotype to engage other parts of the brain and get out and exercise on regular basis. The goal isn’t to become Mr. Universe with the perfect body, but to engage the mind. Studies have proven that there is a substantial increase in brain activity with frequent exercise.

I have found that frequent exercise has helped not me feeling better about myself physical, but mentally and emotionally. Lately, I have been doing the P90X routine three days a week and running two to three of the other days of the week. When I first started doing this regimen, it was difficult and I wasn’t seeing immediate results. It sometimes feels counter intuitive for my logical mind to think that pushing myself to the point of exhaustion can increase brain function, especially when I feel like it is doing just the opposite. For me, the results have been coming little by little where I have seen my physique change as well my thinking has become a bit clearer.

Find an Outlet

Do you ever get stuck on a project where you keep banging your head against the wall? Over and over you go, trying to figure out why something is not working the way it seem it should. The best way to overcome such problems is to take a step back—pause, and reflect. Get away from the problem and focus on other things for a while. I love going running for this reason. I also love to go hiking and skiing. Others have their own outlets that allow their mind to reboot. What is your outlet?

Share Ideas with Others

The beautiful thing about technology today is that it brings easy ways to share your ideas with others. It is true that developers are not typically social creatures and would rather stay secluded in their own world. Living in a box will hinder the minds ability to expand to its potential. I in no way consider myself a social expert. In fact, like most programmer types, I am a bit introverted. It takes come conscious effort to step out of my shell and share my ideas with others. Social media provides easy ways for us to share ideas with others without having to leave our comfortable space. Blogging is one way to get my ideas out there. However, blogging isn’t for everyone; there are forums and other places to share your input with colleagues that share the same interests. Getting a dialogue going is a great way to synergize the ideas. As you become an active part of your niche community, everyone benefits.

Experimentation

Some of my greatest ideas come from a bit of trial and error. Experimenting with tidbits here and there is essential to my growth. We all tend to do things the same way over and over. We know it works, so why change it? There is no way to be innovative with that way of thinking. Technology is driven upon experimentation. Try out other people’s experiments, expanding on their efforts. It can start from the simplest of experiments that leads to the coolest of creations. Publish or share those experiments with others around you for the potential that others may also expound on your experiment.

Continually Learn Something New

We are always needing to improve our skills. Technology will not slow down, neither should we. There is no time to play catch-up. I know some designers that feel they don’t need to keep up with the latest trends and technology. Frankly, I don’t know how they survive. Sure, they may not be developers and they do have a stable job that keeps them employed. But their limit of knowledge on the newer capabilities technology has to offer limits their creative potential. Oh how much greater can we all benefit if we but allow ourselves a portion of the vast knowledge that is out there. I know I have indeed a great deal to learn. Don’t limit your knowledge.