Why should you learn how to program? What is programming? What specific steps can you take? How can you apply programming?

While there’s many ways to apply programming outside of getting computers to do what you want, it’s even more important if you’re dealing with software. If you’re a manager in a software company, then your insight will enable you to hire better programmers. If you’re selling software, then you’ll really have an advantage. And if you’re writing a high-tech thriller, then it’s likely that one of the main characters will need some coding skills.

I don’t blame you if you’ve taken a programming course before and either didn’t like it or didn’t understand it. Many courses focus on the wrong things and dive too deep into theory. Or maybe the course is too much of an overview or introduction that leaves you unsure how to proceed on your own. I’ve said many times that programming is a journey. You don’t start out with a blank page and write an application from start to finish. To me, you shouldn’t learn everything from start to finish either. That would be like trying to learn how to speak a language by learning words in alphabetical order. Instead, focus on important topics that you need.

That doesn’t mean to ignore everything except the current function. Remember that I recommend starting each project with a quick look around to see if there are any better tools, technologies, or ways to do things than what you might already know.

But what you don’t need is to spend years in college before ever trying to write your first program. Take action and start.

My advice is to find something simple that you currently do manually. Something you understand well and that would benefit you if it could be automated. Don’t start out thinking you’ll create the next office word processing software or the next blockbuster game.

Listen to the full episode for more guidance including a short introduction to agile development.