In the past two weeks, I have learned how to use a new framework (Laravel), got into a language I only used while in school (PHP), figured out how to employ a payment system in a website, wrote my first detailed documentation, built an entire e-commerce site and designed it, and by some sort of miracle, avoided an ulcer.

As I sit down to write this article, I feel so relived but also a little bit disappointed in myself for stretching to unrealistic limits.

Don’t Live and Die on Deadlines

I have learnt a lot within that time, but my greatest lesson was “don’t live and die on deadlines”.

I was lucky enough to set a timeline for myself, but my mistake was underestimating the time I’d need. The system sounded simple enough on paper, so I used that judgement to set a 2 week timeline. I did not consider the fact that I was not well versed in the language and framework I would be using, and those annoying bugs that pop up out of nowhere to make a developer’s life a nightmare.

If you’re asked to give a deadline for your work, you will most likely feel the internal pressure to give as short a timeline as possible in order not to seem incompetent or maybe to make your boss feel appeased.

Don’t live and die on deadlines

Giving timeline estimates is one of the hardest things to do right, simply because it is impossible to predict the future and to anticipate all the unknown, especially in programming when you’d spend days debugging simple issues in the UI.

There were some positive outcomes from all this though…

The Silver Lining

I won’t be those developers who praise a programming language over another, because they all have their attractive and unattractive qualities, but I will say that Laravel (a php framework) is quite beginner friendly. You’d obviously need some php knowledge but you don’t have to be a guru either. I was not.

Let the docs be your best friend whenever you decide to go to uncharted grounds. Sometimes google does help, but documentations help the most. I have learnt this the hard way because I was never patient enough to read. Ironic, I know.

Documentation

This is the one thing I think I almost did right in those “hellish” days. I comment on almost everything in my code, and make very detailed commit messages, because I don’t want any other developer reading my code to curse under their breathe trying to figure out what does what, or what goes where, etc. Try and make other people’s lives easier when you can. Be that sunshine. My trick to documenting is thinking of other people who might come into contact with my work.

Finally, the User Interface.

This took the longest time to work on and was the most frustrating because of those oh so annoying bugs! I may have pulled some strands of my hair off, but that didn’t make things any better, obviously.

A trick I picked up on dealing with this kind of frustration was taking a few minutes away from the screen, getting some fresh air, downing a glass of water then getting back to fixing things. It clears and opens up the mind and those little errors start showing themselves.

Also, ask for help when you need it!

So right now, I am going to cozy up with a bowl of achari that’s how this Kamba likes her mangoes and a few episodes of Friends as I contemplate new resolutions on how to handle work at my very best, learn as much as I can, and still remain calm while having an amazing time doing it.

Here’s to beginning a new month after learning from my mistakes these past two weeks. Hopefully

 

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Lulu Ngei