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How to deal with deadlines when you’re still learning

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After you get your first job as a web developer, you’ll realize there’s so much more to it than you initially thought. There will be a learning curve and depending on the size of the company you work at it could be pretty steep. Even though you’ll be learning a lot, you’ll still have to deal with deadlines.

It can feel overwhelming to have deadlines looming over your head when you don’t completely understand what you’re doing. While there’s no way around this newbie dilemma, there are a few things you can do to get through it and come out a better developer.

Don’t goof off (at least in the beginning)

Looking at projects and task lists, it doesn’t seem like anything will be that difficult. You know how to add an option to a select dropdown so you blow it off until later. Then you eventually start working on it and you realize that you have to update the database to include the new option.

You also need to do some data binding to get the rest of the page to update when you choose this new option. Oh, don’t forget that you need to do validation for that option too. The point is that those “easy” tasks can turn into something more complicated than anyone expected.

Falling into the “this is a quick fix” mentality will make your job harder and more stressful than it has to be because this mentality leads to you starting later than you should. When you log onto your computer in the morning, make sure you get through at least a few tasks before you do anything else. No YouTube, no Reddit, no nothing. Do work first.

If you get stuck, go get help

Experienced developers will tell you to work on a problem for at least 30 minutes, but push it out to about an hour. I mean really do your Google searching, dig through documentation, and crawl through forums. By the time you get to another developer you should have tried so much that you recognize the websites the other developers go to.

Don’t sit there and wait until the deadline gets too close. You can jump to another task but you’ll have to come back to this one and finish it regardless. Go ahead and ask for help so you can get it out of the way.

Odds are strong that some of the tasks they assign you are hard and they know it. Sometimes it’s a test to see what you can do and how you handle problems. That’s why it’s important to do as much as you can before you ask for help. You learn how to be a better developer by digging because you’ll know how to ask better questions.

Re-prioritize your tasks every morning

This could be as simple as literally re-prioritizing your list in the morning to match any updated deadlines or new tasks. Check in with your manager or any clients you work with to make sure that you are all on the same page and they still have the same requirements.

It might seem like a lot to do this every day when you already know your deadlines and requirements but it helps keep you focused on what needs your attention versus what you want to pay attention to. Plus it’s a way to keep track of your deadlines with lower stress. Nothing will get a chance to sneak up on you because you know exactly what you need to get done for the day to stay on track.

I know it can be stressful learning how to do new stuff while people are expecting you to do the stuff you don’t know. You can take comfort in knowing that your fellow developers will help you through it. Especially when they know you’re a junior developer.

Do any senior devs have advice for new developers concerning those looming deadlines? It takes a village to train a new developer.

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