The web is a fluid ecosystem of always changing ideas, frameworks and practices. As a web developer, it can be tiring and stressful trying to keep up with these developments.
There have been times in my career when I’ve seriously felt the weight of change pressing on me. I have felt like I’m always on the back-foot. Questions like “how do I stay up to date with web technology?” and “how do I stay on top of trends?” fuelled my anxieties about whether I could deliver for my clients, made me feel like an imposter in web circles and ultimately made me question my fitness to practice in this industry.
But all that has now changed! And if you’re feeling the pressure to keep up with technology as a web developer, I’d like to share with you one technique that has empowered me to deal with the fast-paced change of the web development sector.
Focus on your work… and the learning will happen automatically
For me, learning for the sake of learning doesn’t work. I need to feel the heat of a real project with a real client to get my head into learning something new. In that environment, I learn quickly and I remember it, too. In 2017 I wrote my first React application, from scratch, for a paying client. My knowledge came on leaps and bounds as I was motivated by a real brief, solving a real problem in the real world.
That’s not to say that reading and experimenting doesn’t help you keep up with web development trends. You don’t need to stop doing that. My message is simply that you should focus on what you need to know and stop obsessing about all the other shiny objects out there.
Give yourself permission to stop obsessing
The next time you’re browsing Twitter and you hear some industry news about some advancement in web technology, and you feel that familiar twinge of anxiety that you’re falling behind, take a moment to recognise something:
Technology is constantly changing and there is nothing you can do about that. It’s also true that you can never possibly know everything. Therefore, it makes sense to work on the problems in front of you right now, and if solving them involves learning something new, that’s fine. But don’t feel like you must drop everything and go explore this new framework or plugin immediately.
If it’s an idea that’s worth hearing about, it will reveal itself to you when the time is right.