As developers (or aspiring developers) we spend our days hacking away on projects at work or school for hours on end, and unfortunately most of that time is spent working on rather repetitive and only mildly intellectually-stimulating tasks. For those of us who want to not only be ‘developers’ but really be infamous ‘rockstar developers’ then we have to do something more. This is why I came up with the 7-minute programmer workout to help you go from average dev, to rockstar dev. If you already think that you’re an awesome dev, then it will help you stay in tip-top shape as a software developer — like a pro athlete training for a tournament!

The notion of a 7-minute workout has become incredibly popular these days for the primary reason that everyone, and I mean everyone, has a spare 7-minutes to devote to working out. As a developer, it should almost be a requirement to spend at least 7-minutes a day becoming a faster, better, and more knowledgeable programmer. So here goes nothing!

The Ground Rules

1) You should aim to workout all 7 days a week, however, you get two ‘get out of jail’ free cards per week (no rollover!) that you can use whenever you have to work late, etc.

2) Two days a week you should aim to do a ‘superset’ and go for 14-minutes. It’s not a requirement, but more likely than not, you’ll find yourself doing it anyway because it’s so fun!

3) Once a month you should write about your experience and share the 7-minute programmer workout with a friend!

Workout Schedule

Day 1: HN (Hacker News) day! Today’s a light day. Go and read an article on news.ycombinator.com and get an account to send an upvote! This is one of the highest-quality locations for hard-core developer news and blog posts. If you find a great blog post, you should also go and share it here for others to read.

Day 2: StackOverflow day! Go and answer a question in your area of expertise on StackOverflow! Some questions may take a lot more than 7-minutes to answer, however, especially depending on what areas you are more proficient in, you should be able to find more than enough questions to get started with in roughly the 7-minute answer time area… This will not only help other developers, but make you think way deeper about your own skills than you would ever think at work or on a project. Teaching is the highest level of comprehension!

Day 3: Upskill day! Each month, make a decision about a language or framework that you want to explore and you should be devoting at least 7–minutes to it on day-3 of the workout program. Go to a free online site to learn or just look around on Google, find a program and stick to it! Learn and practice in small chunks, and then occasionally come back to them in order to refresh your memory. This is the most effective way to learn and is the most likely to keep you happy and excited about learning something. It also gives you ample time to think about the topic during your off-time. If you’re looking for a site with free content, practice, and also access to live mentors, check out EXLskills.com. P.S. I’m the CEO of EXLskills :)

Day 4: Algorithms day! Four is an unlucky number (for those who believe in unlucky numbers!) and that’s why it’s time for most people’s least lucky topic — algorithms! Sure, some people like it, but honestly it’s probably not the most exciting topic for the majority of us devs… Check out some of the practice on EXLskills.com or Exercism.io to find timed algo questions and learning. This is also a great way to practice for upcoming (or future) tech interviews as the notorious algo questions always come up!

Day 5: Pick-your-poison day! Repeat the activities of any prior day for at least 7-minutes! This is a great time to continue a course, come back to your answers on SO, or read more HN!

Day 6: Blog post day! I know… 7-minutes isn’t nearly enough for a solid fleshed-out blog post, but you should at least get started on one or continue and publish a previous blog post. Get on Medium or your own website and type, type, type! The best way is to just get started with writing about something your working on, or even not directly programming-related content. It makes you a better writer and communicator at work either way!

Day 7: Last day of the week! This is your last day of the week, so come back to something you love doing! It’s a great time to spend a few minutes reviewing what you learned on Day 3 or even learn how to say, “hello world,” in a new language!

Reach Goal: If you can, make at least one contribution to an open source project a week. Even just try opening an issue, fixing a typo in the docs, or add a unit test. The maintainers will appreciate it, and you’ll start building your comfort and rep with GitHub in no time! (Employers also love that!)

This is the challenge, should you choose to accept it! Become a #7MinProgrammer today and let me know how it goes for you! This basic routine has definitely helped me become more productive and focused at work, more in-the-loop about new technologies, and quicker at solving logical problems at work and for fun. I hope that you learn something new this week!