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What I'm Grateful for as a Developer

Happy Thanksgiving to those of us in the United States!

Monica Gellar from TV show Friends with a turkey over her head putting on sunglasses.

I’ve been in this industry now for about 4 and a half years. In the spirit of Thanksgiving (in the US), I wanted to make a specific list of what I am thankful for in my journey as a developer.

Community

I am very thankful for the tech communities to which I belong. I know that meeting people on the Internet was taboo at one point, but I’ve made so many friends online through the community. I am reasonably active in the Washington, D.C. tech community and their slacks. I have made so many friends on not only a professional level but also on a personal level.

These friends I get to cheer on as they grow in their career, and they reciprocate that to me. One of my biggest supporters has been Ali Spittel whom I met online through community first. Now I can say that we are friends, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to be friends with techies. Any time I ever thought of rage quitting tech to pursue my other aspirations, I always was reminded of how fantastic community is in our sector. I wouldn’t trade that for anything!

Digital tools developed by fellow developers

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 7 and have struggled with the distractions as they get more complicated. Phone and desktop notifications, text messages, and social media have not helped those of us who already struggle to focus.

Neil Patrick Harris tossing papers that say productivity on it.

I know I am not the only one who struggles with distraction, especially developers who are always having their attention taken away from their code. I am thankful for the many developers and entrepreneurs who have designed tools to help us stay organized. Here are the apps that help me with my productivity, which ultimately help me reduce my anxiety:

  1. Evernote - I didn’t use this tool as much until the past year or so. But now, I don’t know how I could go without it. I use it to create outlines for my blog posts and to keep a running list of ideas for future posts. This list is beneficial when you’re out and about and think of something off the top of your head. I’ve had great ideas for posts and then forget because I didn’t write it down!
  2. Trello - I’ve used this as a prioritization tool for this blog. Using the color-coded labels has helped me prioritize what tasks need to get done ASAP and what can wait.
  3. Grammarly - They have a free version which is fantastic. But because I am actively blogging, paying for the premium version is worth it. It helps me to get a sense of my tone, reduce passive voice, and improve my writing.
  4. Reminder & Timer Apps - There are so many things I am likely to forget day-to-day: following up with PMs, updating tickets with my progress, etc. A lot of times, if I can’t do it at that moment, I tell Siri to set a reminder for a particular time to do it. I also use the Timer app on the phone for my Pomodoros!
  5. Headspace - This isn’t a tool to help me stay organized, but learning to meditate has helped me manage my emotions, anxiety and time!

Without any of these tools, my job would be much harder. I would have way more difficulty staying on task or being productive.

The flexibility of our industry

I am thankful for the ability to work remotely and having flexibility in my day-to-day. Having a flexible schedule allows me to have time to work on my blog without it getting in the way of my personal life. I can take time for myself, my projects and my friends and family on top of my full-time job. Even when you don’t work 100% remotely, I find having a few days a week remote can help tremendously with work/life balance.

I’ve also grown to love that the industry (at least at the companies I have worked at) have embraced flex hours as a benefit. Usually, this comes in the form of core hours where you are required to be signed in for 4-5 hours consecutively. However, when you start or stop work outside of that is up to you so long as you put in your time. Flexibility has become way more important to me than making tons of money.

Constantly learning and helping others

I am thankful to have a platform to help others with web accessibility. Starting a blog has been out of my comfort zone, but incredibly rewarding. It has been a fantastic experience having a place where I can teach and help others, while also challenging myself to learn and grow. I love being able to see people have moments where they finally get it.

Hamster with glasses on reading a book, a metaphor for learning.

Blogging and teaching others has also encouraged me to lean further into my talents and skills. It’s also forced me to explain things more in depth and expand how I think about accessibility. My last post on dyslexia was not something I had ever considered before starting this blog, and I learned so much in the process!

I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for this year! Let me know on Twitter!