Seven Habits of Expert 10x Developers

Before rolling your eyes midway through the article, make sure to read the notes below

1. Experts type really fast

They never look at the keys of their keyboards, many of them use blank keycaps. True experts sometimes loose ability to type common words that have similar technical identifiers, e.g. typing “reach” is a challenge for expert React developers.

2. Experts use keyboard shortcuts

Click, click, click, this is too slow. You will never see an expert save their file using File → Save menu commands, it’s always ⌘S. Same goes for navigating the code, moving cursor, opening tabs.

3. Experts have multiple tabs open

Be it Chrome, terminal or code editors, experts always keep a lot of open tabs within each app. It helps them parallelize the work.

4. Experts use longer names

The median length of variable of the expert developer is typically 11.2 characters. The extra time it takes to type the variable names is very well compensated by skill #1.

5. Experts prefer dark themes

You know you are looking at 10x developer’s monitor if everything is really dark. Experts switch their OS (which is, of course, macOS) theme to dark, use dark editor and terminal themes.

They also heavily customize their environments, change wallpapers, etc.

6. Experts wear hoodies

Formal shirts you see in business and finance is not a good sign. The best of the best usually wear comfortable closes: T-shirts, jeans, Allbirds, hoodies.

7. Experts read Hacker News

Hacker News is a great source of technical buzz. Hot new startups, programming language benchmarks, Electron hate speech, and, of course, Rust. Discussions on this website are often more useful than the posted content itself.

Conclusions

To become an expert 10x developer, learn to type fast, print shortcuts cheat sheet, prefix all your identifiers with your name, get some comfy closes, switch to dark mode and open as many articles from Hacker News in your browser tabs as can fit in your RAM.


When I was in school, a friend of mine tried a bold but dumb strategy that I remember to this day. He wanted to improve his scores, so he totally emulated the smartest guy in our class: got similar closes, ate the same food, got the same pens, sat in the same way. The outcome wasn’t the same though.

While it’s entertaining to read best sellers and random marketing materials, keep in mind that the observed traits are not why people are great. They are great because they have worked their asses off and have overwhelming loads of experience that form their personalities. You can ask an expert 10x developer to work without using the traits from this article, and they will still be 10x better than you.

The ▢ of tomorrow

▢ is the next big thing. The future of our industry is ▢. All the geeks are looking forward to what’s ▢ is going to be like in the future.

General observation: when people are “thinking” about the future of something, that thing is not the main part. It’s the waiting for that new thing.

Guess what happens when ▢ arrives and becomes a commodity? Suddenly everyone who was waiting for it will start looking for ◯, which is the future of ▢.

Reverse Yak Shaving

We all know the classical yak shaving—it’s when you need to do something, but something else must be done first.

I would like to introduce you to the light side: that yak shaving can be the only way to get something done.

Let’s say you want to write more and need some time for that. So you decide to wake up earlier every day. I’m sure you tried this, waking up earlier sucks.

If we embrace yak shaving mindset, it’s obvious that to wake up earlier you can’t just set the alarm clock for 6am. You need to fall asleep earlier. I’m sure you tried this, but going to bed earlier sucks.

And so we go deeper. To fall asleep earlier we need to change our evening routine, limit the screen time, adjust light, etc. All that biology stuff. I’m sure you tried this, but not having Twitter and Netflix in the evening sucks.

You guessed it. The next step is to find entertainment for yourself that doesn’t involve OLED, LCD and other types of screens. I zeroed in on books, the physical kind.

Since I started reading, I have no problem falling asleep earlier, waking up earlier, having more time to write and, well, actually writing. The results are shit, but what can you do but try.


Yak shaving is amazing once you break from the dogma that it’s a useless spending of time. If something is hard to do, follow the yak shaving path and find a way to make it easy.

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