Being a life-long programmer

I read the following article this morning, and found a lot of useful insight in it about what it takes to be a programmer long-term. And, though I’m not approaching 55, as my 6 year old pointed out when I told him my age two weeks ago I am “almost near 100″… Yes I Still Want To Be Doing This at 56

I particularly identified with was the following paragraph

“The thing I find most important today is that you should never work longer, just smarter. Being older does mean you can’t code 20 hours a day any more, or rather imagine you can code 20 hours a day as it’s not really good coding. Is there a real limit to how many hours a day you can actually be producing a quality application? Probably it does go down over time but as long as you continue to learn how to code smarter the end result is still quality, just with less caffeine.”

When I started out of school 15 years ago, it was very easy for me to just sit and bang out code with little preparation or thought put into it. I’d come back, if there was time, and clean up some bit or I’d come back months later and have no clue what I meant to do and kick myself for the decisions and shortcuts I’d take. Nowadays, I’m a lot more reflective when I start something, even if its a simple class. If I can, I bounce ideas off of colleagues, which at the minimum forces me to articulate the pros/cons of approaches I’m considering. I spend less time actually writing code, but have cleaner, easier to use code as a result and usually there’s time re-factor and clean up the rough edges.