Breaking Things Down

- 1 min

One of the most important skills a software developer needs is the ability to break things down. Very often we are faced with ideas and challenges that are simply too big to hold in our head so the ability to break something big in smaller pieces becomes essential.

I’ve made the mistake in the past (and I still do) where I would try and tackle a story whilst trying to organise the solution in my head. Needless to say this approach never works. Since switching to Emacs, I use Org mode for all my note taking. On the client project I’m on, I have a notes.org file which I use every time I pick up a new story. I begin by breaking it down in smaller pieces and documenting each step as well as adding any extra information I discover along the way. This helps me internalise the knowledge I’m gaining in a way that is simply not possible (for me at least) by just trying to keep everything in my head.

A pen and a paper are your allies. Break things down and write them on a piece of paper. Try and think about each step and what it requires but be careful not to do that for too long. It’s far too easy to descend into a rabbit hole trying to explore all possible paths. Instead figure just enough information so you can get started and adjust as you go along.

Break it down, takes notes, execute, repeat.

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