How to Think Like a Programmer?

You may be confused by hearing many programming words and terms before entering the world of programming. Every beginner who enters the world of programming faces the same challenges such as problem-solving, difficulty understanding code logic, difficulty approaching error and getting solutions to it, and so on. In this article, you will learn the art of thinking like a programmer and you will learn how to act like a professional programmer in solving problems, implementing the logic of complex software, and creating the features of each software. So, let’s begin with How to Think Like a Programmer?

What does the programming mindset mean?

Let’s think of programming as talking for a moment. When you talk, your goal is to communicate effectively with those around you. When programming, your goal is to communicate with a device. In either case, you do not need to know every word or element of a language, you just need to know enough to convey your ideas to be understood.

When you use code to solve a problem, it is not more about memorizing the pieces of code and using them, it is more about knowing the basics and using them. Once you understand how to break a problem into smaller pieces and apply the principles of programming, you do not need to memorize everything. You simply learn how to deal with a challenge or problem, and this is a skill you can use every time you code.

Divide everything into components

Problem-solving is more than a skill. We all face big and small problems, and we may be dealing with them randomly unless we deal with them beforehand. Well, in order to fully understand the whole issue, you have to go through these three steps:

  • Divide the problem into smaller problems.
  • Find solutions to your small problems.
  • Collect solutions coherently.
  • Summarize and improve it.

Consider this example; How to put an elephant in the refrigerator?

  • Open the refrigerator door.
  • Put the elephant inside
  • Close the refrigerator door.

The problem was solved. This is what most people answer. If you think about this logical question, you will see some obvious problems that remain unanswered:

  • What kind of refrigerator are we talking about?
  • What kind of elephant are we talking about?
  • What do you do if the elephant is big enough not to fit in the fridge?
  • Where do you find the elephant in the first place?
  • How do you transfer an elephant to your refrigerator?

When coding, you need to answer every little question you can think of. That’s why the first step is to break your problem into smaller pieces.

A typical way to develop problem-solving skills

You can only solve problems quickly if you have already solved the problem, which means that you have already seen the problem solved. So the challenge is to make sure you have seen all the issues and problems before.

For now, this does not mean that you should have seen all the problems before because it is impossible. In these cases, you should be able to identify patterns of programming challenges. This is because you have a deep understanding of the different solutions to problems so that you can recognize that the two problems are the same and you can use the principles of problem-solving to solve the unsolved problem.

Beginners in programming should first begin to understand a set of core algorithms and data structures. Read the solutions to some other problems so that the patterns are visible to you. Then, you need to practice online challenges while you are not fast. Many problems are solved in programming, and the more you solve, the more you will see the patterns of old problems in the new problems you solve, and you will get better over time.

Simple Tips for How to Thinking Like a Programmer

Everyone has a different perspective on programming, meaning that each programmer thinks differently and learns how to uniquely approach and analyze problems. With practice, you develop your programming vision, and it becomes easier to communicate with machines to solve complex problems.

As you develop your perspective, here are some tips and tricks you can use to learn to think like a programmer and develop that mindset.

1. Express and solve problems loud

You can talk to a friend or family member and explain that you are trying to solve problems, express problems, and talk to them. By talking to someone, you can determine how to communicate with them to clearly explain your problem and solution.

Don’t have someone to talk to right now? no problem! Just try to voice the problem out loud. Explain your performance and understanding. Sometimes speaking out loud is the solution.

There is another method called Rubber Duck Debugging which is very effective for solving programming problems. This is how you think of a plastic duck (or any other toy) as a person and explain your program code line by line. This will show the errors or bugs in your application when explaining.

Rubber Duck Debugging

2. Practice, do not memorize

Remembering code is hard work and you do not need to memorize it to think like a programmer. Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life. Learn the principles and ideas behind programming and go far beyond trying to memorize everything.

Whenever you solve a simple problem with programming, you develop your principles even more and make it easier as you progress. Small projects are a great place to start and practice. Practice is the key to turning your programming vision into a professional one.

3. Shortcuts can be dangerous

Using a shortcut or so-called faster goal and rushing while learning programming can be more harmful than helpful. Try to think about the learning process.

Instead of trying to figure out a problem right away, try to solve it yourself first. When you rely on other people’s programming solutions, you can not strengthen that programming muscle yourself.

Focus on the basics, practice, and practice your exercises. Learning programming takes time, it can be frustrating, but it’s all part of the process of shaping your programming vision.

4. Debug your program

Examine your solution step by step and try to find the wrong place. Developers call this Debugging.

Sometimes we get so lost in the details of a problem that we ignore the general principles that solve the problem. Another way is to re-evaluate the program. Delete everything and start over with a clear view. Doing Google research is another way to find a solution to a problem, so be sure to take it seriously.

5. Get acquainted with reading the documents and how the codes work

Programming documentation is just like a cooking recipe. These documents explain how the code works and are a great resource for a better understanding of programming. Learning to read documents also keeps you from looking for shortcuts or easy solutions to problems or bugs.


Just when you think you have successfully overcome one obstacle, other obstacles appear. But this is what makes programming attractive. In fact, with every solution you come up with for your problem, you make progress. Finally, I am ending this article (How to think like a programmer) with a beautiful sentence by Steve Jobs.

Everybody should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think

Steve Jobs

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