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Are You Doing Enough Coding?

My previous article discussed the question how much do you code?. After thinking more about this, I realized that a more important question is whether you are doing enough coding. How much is enough versus too little? This depends on the reasons why you code.

For myself, I can think of several reasons why I code. The primary reason is enjoyment: I find the act of creating working software quite often rewarding, and as a result I am highly motivated to code. There are admittedly times when coding is frustrating and painful, like when trying to track down an intermittent defect. There are also times when coding is tedious - I can see the block of code I am trying to create in my head, but have to laboriously type it all into my IDE. Despite this, overall I find coding more enjoyable than other typical work activities such as writing documentation, design reviews, or meetings.

The type of coding I do also influences the level of enjoyment. Developing a complex new system in my language of expertise (Java) ranks quite highly. Doing simple defect fixes, fixing a problem in badly-written code, or working in a more 'primitive' language / programming environment ranks much lower on the enjoyment scale.

Another reason I code is that it lets me use and further develop my software development skills. As a senior software developer I have spent years honing my ability to create software, so it feels weird when these skills are not called upon at work. Furthermore, I still want to improve and grow my coding skills despite taking on architect responsibilities.

These reasons combined together influence whether I feel that I am coding enough. I have spend periods of time doing limited coding but not minding because I was still doing enjoyable work, usually involving architecture or design that still required technical 'thinking' and software development skills, so my overall motivation remained high. There are other times when I become twitchy to code - most recently when I was overwhelmed with meetings over a period of several weeks. Sometimes when this happens I turn to personal coding projects at home to get my 'fix' of coding.

Understanding how much you want to code requires that you understand your motivational factors and your career goals, which is valuable for everyone to know. So ask yourself the question: Are you doing enough coding?

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