S4E17: Learning to Code While Working Full Time With a Family With Michael Tombor

Updated on | Sign up for learn to code tips

Mike Tombor is learning to code while working full time at a health insurance company. He also has two kids and a fiancé.

Mike’s goal is to become a full-stack web developer and designer. As he learns, he shares his journey in Medium blog posts and at community meetups to help others balance their own life demands with their goals.

Learning to code while working full time (and raising kids) is no easy feat. In our conversation, Mike shares how he balances work, coding, and family. He also explains what drew him to tech, tricks for staying motivated and managing your time wisely, and how to build a supportive community during your journey.

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

Laurence Bradford 0:06
Hey listeners. Welcome to the Learn to Code With Me podcast. I'm your host, Laurence Bradford. Before we get into today's episode, I just want to remind you that you can get the Show Notes for this episode in every other episode at learntocodewith.me/podcast. And if you enjoy the show, make sure to subscribe on whichever podcast player you listen on. And if you're feeling particularly generous, a review would be awesome too. Here's a quick word from our sponsors who helped make the show possible.

Laurence Bradford 0:38
Want to transition from dead end job to dream job? Fullstack Academy is one of the nation's top coding boot camps with the curriculum, the career guidance and most importantly, the community support to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Fullstack Academy, everything you need to land your dream job in tech. Check them out at fullstackacademy.com

Laurence Bradford 0:59
Flatiron School's online web developer program focuses on community actual development tools and features a curriculum that will teach you the skills you need to land a career as a software engineer, get $500 off your first month by visiting flatironbootcampprep.com.

Laurence Bradford 1:17
In today's episode a talk with Michael Tombor, an investigative analyst who's learning to code while juggling a full time job and a family. We talked about how he finds time to code, his time management tips for balancing learning to code with a full time job and his favorite tech tools. Michael Tombor has two kids, a fiance and a full time job at a health insurance company. Even with all those responsibilities, he's also been teaching himself how to code. Mike's goal is to become a full stack web developer and designer. As he learns he shares his journey in medium blog posts and at community meetups to help others balance their own life demands with their goals.

Laurence Bradford 2:00
Hey, Mike, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Michael Tombor 2:02
Hey, Laurence. Thanks so much for having me.

Laurence Bradford 2:04
Yeah, we've been chatting back and forth in email, and I've read your blog post on freako. Camp a published recently. So I'm really excited to talk with you today. But before we get going, is there anything else to that introduction that you would like to add?

Michael Tombor 2:18
No, not really. That was a pretty great, thank you so much.

Laurence Bradford 2:22
Okay. Yeah, of course. Perfect. So before getting into everything you're up to today, I want to hear more about you and your past. What were you doing before you started learning how to code?

Michael Tombor 2:32
Yeah, so I was actually doing what I am now, except I had a little extra free time. But I started out as a pharmacy technician, actually. And so I just used to type in fill prescriptions at a pharmacy. That job was really demanding and I kind of had a lucky break while going to college. at the pharmacy, one of my customers worked at an insurance company, and she really liked me, I guess so she recommended me to her boss. Who is hiring? Long story short, I got the job and worked as a temp towards a full time role. And getting that desk job gave me a lot more free time to think about what I wanted for my future. And I realized that I wanted to make more of an impact and help as many people as possible. And that's when I realized that the tech industry is the most disruptive force today. And I found Free Code Camp soon after that, and I was hooked.

Laurence Bradford 3:28
Oh, how exciting. So how long ago was this just so like the listeners can have some concept of time?

Michael Tombor 3:34
Yeah, I started learn how to code just about six months ago. So I stepped back. Yeah, that's when I stepped back and I started looking at the bigger picture. I wasn't always interested in coding, to be honest. But the more I looked at the forces making real change, the more I saw that tech was behind these advances, and I saw a clear opportunity to put myself in the thick of it and try to make some sort of meaningful Change.

Laurence Bradford 4:00
Yeah, that's great and six months ago is perfect. Because I know there's a lot of listeners who find themselves in the same position like they've been learning for a few months or even less than that. Maybe it's like their first month, or maybe they haven't even started learning it. And they're just thinking about it. So I think you'll have some really great insight to share for those people that are earlier on their journey. Okay, so you began learning to code six months ago, you said at first, you weren't really interested in coding? Do you mean? Like you were pursuing another area in technology before turning to web development? Or do you mean you were really not interested at all on technology until six months ago?

Michael Tombor 4:37
I mean, I always loved using technology. It's such a part of our daily lives, but I never even thought about writing the code to you know, deliver websites and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, I really, it was totally off my radar and, and then I kind of stumbled into Free Code Camp. That's, that's what got me into it.

Laurence Bradford 4:56
So you maybe don't recall It's fine if you don't, but I love hearing these stories. If you do, do you know how you stumbled across Free Code Camp? Like, what were you googling? Or did you find something on Facebook? Like, how did you just stumble upon it?

Michael Tombor 5:08
So like, I just started Googling, and just, you know, like, I had no idea about web development. So I just started, you know, kind of diving into everything. And one of my, my cousin's, her boyfriend is a front end web developer. So I just reached out to him, and I said, Hey, I sorry to bug you. And he was more than happy to help. But I was I just had no idea. So I was like, sorry to bug you. But you know, what, you do really interest me? I think it's so cool. What do you recommend? And he gave me like a list of sites. And honestly, I chose Free Code Camp because it didn't cost any money. And, like, that's a really low barrier to entry. You know, like, What do I have to lose? So I just started setting some goals to you know, work on it every day. And I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

Laurence Bradford 5:57
Yeah, that's, that's awesome. And so Six months in still going strong or continuing to go strong. So when you first started learning, okay, you mentioned Free Code Camp, obviously they have like a curriculum and like languages that they're teaching. Did you kind of just like follow Free Code Camp and didn't really mosey around? Or did you do research into what languages and or what stack you should be learning?

Michael Tombor 6:21
Yeah, so at first I just kind of trusted the Free Code Camp process. And I just cuz, you know, at the beginning, you just really need to build a solid foundation. So I started with, you know, CSS, HTML, and then the beginnings of JavaScript, because that's kind of the the easiest way to get hooked, because you can see the code do its thing right on the screen, as you're coding. So, so that is what you know, got me into, into it, and then I just kept going to meetups and meeting new people, and then kind of just ask them what they thought I should focus on in the future. Then I started listening to a ton of podcasts on my drive to work, this podcast, learn to code with me, full of great inspiring stories and also like code newbie, and stuff like that. Just really immersing myself in the tech community, and picking up the terminology as I went. And through that, I started finding other other ways to learn that I really liked, like, learning with videos and code alongs and stuff like that, which honestly, is the best way that I learned but Free Code Camp opened all of those doors for me.

Laurence Bradford 7:34
Wonderful. And thank you so much for the podcast recommendation, and I loved what you said about immersing yourself in the tech community. I actually think with the Free Code Camp founder Quincy Larson, I had him on the podcast a bit ago, previous season, but I remember chatting with him a lot about that topic. And I think I don't want to misquote him, but I think he says something like hang out with developers or if you want to learn how to code hang out with developers because I think just being around, yeah, that community and just hearing the language what people are talking about, and you can just absorb so much. And it really I think can help. Maybe that learning like the hard skills because it's really hard to like, listen to a podcast and learn something super technical, but you could at least understand, like the conversations that are happening around that topic.

Michael Tombor 8:19
Exactly. And everybody in the tech community is so friendly. I was blown away by you know, just how nice people are like they take time out of their lives to volunteer and just teach other people because they love it so much. And you don't see that too much in other industries. So just seeing all the positivity around it that that really drew me in.

Laurence Bradford 8:39
Yeah. And kind of piggybacking off of that, but it's also amazing all like the free events and meetups and I know you mentioned that you go to meetups, but there's so many free helpful resources out there. It's really easy for someone to get started. So on that note, what meetups do you go to? And are they are they local Are there any national ones I'm just trying to, hopefully some of the meetups that you go to listeners can go to as well in their area.

Michael Tombor 9:05
Yeah. So if you just go on, you know meetup and type in tech, just search the word tech, you'll see a ton of different meetups come up. There's always Free Code Camp meetups, and then there's JavaScript meetups. If you're into cryptocurrency, there's those kind of meetups as well. Personally, I've just gone to a local Free Code Camp meetups, to be honest. And then also, it's a really good opportunity to get out there and give a little presentation. That's the local organizer kind of posted on the Facebook page and said, Hey, does anybody want to give a little talk? I have a 30 minute slot open. And I just said, Yeah, sure. And he's like, Okay, what topic you want to talk about? And I just, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to talk about. So I just said the first thing that popped into my head, and he's like, that sounds great. It's next week. So you know, just just be open. And just if you see an opportunities Go for it. I was really nervous. But that little talk that I gave turned into my article that I published on medium which led to this interview. So you know, a little thing like that can really start to open some doors and it just shows people that you're interested.

Laurence Bradford 10:20
Oh, I love that. And that is really really brave with you. Like I think six months in. Well, first of all, I was running around with my head like cut off at that time, and there was no way I would be getting in front of any kind of group to give any presentation. So like, kudos to you for doing that. And was that at the Free Code Camp? Meetup presented a different one?

Michael Tombor 10:38
Yeah, it was a it was that a Free Code Camp meetup? And yeah, after I said, Yes, I kind of like turned on my phone. So I was like, What did I just say yes to like, I don't even know what I'm doing. But everybody has stuff to offer cuz Everyone has their own background and their own perspective on things. So because I was so new, I chose a different approach. I talked about time management because no matter how advanced you are, There's always a way to manage your time better. So I chose that angle. And it really worked out great.

Laurence Bradford 11:07
Yeah, that Yeah, again, super brave of you. And I loved also what you said with how like that that presentation led to one thing which led to another. And I feel that way all the time with just like, I don't know, my wife and I can be tech related or not, but you think of like a risk you took or tiny thing you did a few years ago, and then how that spiraled kind of into one thing. And another thing, the next thing you know, it's a few years later, and you're like, wow, it's all kind of triggered from that one thing that I decided to do, and now look at where I am. That's crazy. Yeah. So I definitely want to talk about time management. Because it seems like you're an expert on that with your blog post and the talk that you did. And also, you've already said a few things. Already in this interview that makes me feel like you're quite organized and good with managing your time. But before getting into that, another question I want to I want to ask you just curious about You work at? Okay, so you have a desk job and insurance company, it's your full time job like your typical nine to five, do any of your tech skills that you're learning come in handy at all with your day job, or vice versa?

Michael Tombor 12:13
Yeah, they actually come in handy all the time. Even if it's just like the methodical and logical mindset and approach to solving a problem, or just streamlining something down to make it easier. You know, Tech has a tech kind of works its way into my day job all the time. I've even my first tech project was actually automating a workflow with some simple code. And so I had a I had a task that I was assigned, and it was a really, you know, repetitive task and I hate repetitive tasks, who doesn't, right, but so it was just to create a tracking log for certain pharmacies and then I'd receive an email with the information and they wanted me to just manually typed it into a spreadsheet. So I did not want to do that all day. So I just googled in YouTube. And about you know, an hour later I found a way to create a, you know, a Word document that would take the information from this submitter, and it would automatically transfer that into the spreadsheet. It was actually in Visual Basic, which I haven't used since then. But doing that really fascinated me, and I realized that you know, texts really powerful, you know, it can make any job in any industry. A lot easier to do.

Laurence Bradford 13:34
Yes. 100% nice little antidote there. So, now, okay, so you're working full time, you're learning how to code full time, and we'll definitely link the article that you wrote on Free Code Camp in the show notes because I know you have a lot of like visuals and helpful tips in there that it's probably better for people to consume through reading rather than just listening. But off the bat, like I'm just curious, what is it like learning to code while working full time and having a family and all these other responsibilities, like, was it an adjustment for you as you got started? Or was it something you kind of fell into naturally? Like, we have what what has it been like?

Michael Tombor 14:13
Yeah, it was definitely a huge adjustment. In the beginning, it was really stressful. I tried to just kind of wing it and fit it in day by day. But I found that it started kind of like pouring over into the rest of my life. I would be anxious all the time, because I didn't code that morning. So like, I'd be hanging out with my family and just kind of like watching the clock, like, okay, like, I need to just, you know, spend some time to code later. And, you know, it's not a great way to live like that. So, like, the thing I look forward to all day, which was coding started to, you know, have a negative impact. So to help to help me with that, I just created a simple schedule, and I read a great blog post by Beau Carnes he writes on the future Code Camp blog. And you know, he, he just recommended making a simple schedule and splitting your time. So, like splitting your time into blocks, so you can focus 100% and be present in the moment. So like when it's family time, I could just relax and enjoy time with my family. But when it's coding time, I could you know, 100% focus in on that and be even more productive than before. And you know, doing that made me feel a lot more balanced. And just, I just enjoy life more to be honest.

Laurence Bradford 15:30
Wow. So how long have you or how long has it been since you implemented this, like, blocking schedule?

Michael Tombor 15:37
Yeah. So I did that, you know, after like, two and a half months of just trying to hack it day by day. And, you know, when I was doing that, I just ended up staying up late, like every night, and then in the morning, I'd be kind of kind of tired and grumpy. And then you know, the cycle just continued.

Laurence Bradford 15:56
So how do you stick to this blocky schedule. I'm looking At you have an example, in this article that you wrote. And again, we'll link to this, it looks like it's pretty regimented. You're studying Monday through Friday, every day from 530 to 6:30am. Some days you study during lunch, it seems and then every evening from eight to nine, you study as well. So it looks like you're getting about two hours, maybe a bit more on some days, study time. How is it like sticking with that schedule?

Michael Tombor 16:27
Yeah, it's tough, you know, and I definitely listen to myself if, if I feel burnt out, I'll just take a day off and just spend time with my family or friends and just hang out. Because you can't just, you know, push yourself when you're feeling burnt out there comes a point when you need to take it easy. And also, so like I set those blocks, but instead of doing the four hour sometimes I'll do 30 minutes in the morning and then at night, I'll do a little more so I'm kind of fluid with it a little bit. And I found that that's helped me stick to it long term.

Laurence Bradford 16:58
So basically, maybe like the goal is Two hours every day, but it kind of varies how you spend the two hours, but usually before work, and then after work?

Michael Tombor 17:06
Yeah. And then I always code on my lunch break or exercise. So that's like a good way to fit it in the middle of the day.

Laurence Bradford 17:13
So I know there's probably people thinking about it thinking this right now, cuz I'm thinking, like, how do you have time? Or how do you code on your lunch break?

Michael Tombor 17:22
So yeah, so I'm really lucky with my job. So I bring my lunch so I don't have to, like go to a restaurant and get it. And then I'll just, you know, go into like, an empty conference room, or I'll like drive down to Starbucks or something. And I'll just put in my headphones and code, you know, for like, 45 minutes to an hour.

Laurence Bradford 17:43
Nice. So like, you're able to kind of eat your lunch in?

Michael Tombor 17:48
I see my lunch and code at the same time and that, like, I always bring my personal laptop to work with me, and you know, fully charged up and everything so I could just kind of, you know, do it that way. And then if I don't if I don't have like, enter I will download, you know, whatever video course I'm doing ahead of time and work off the local environment.

Laurence Bradford 18:06
Oh, that is a good tip does it? Does that happen? Like at work, you can connect to the Wi Fi? Or you could be a Starbucks, it's not working?

Michael Tombor 18:13
Yeah, like my work sometimes, you know, they, they don't really want you to sign in with your personal computer onto the Wi Fi for whatever reason. So. So that's just one workaround I've kind of made just to make sure because that my lunch breaks, like some of my most productive time. So, you know, I found I found a little workaround.

Laurence Bradford 18:33
Nice. Nice. So that's interesting. So you're usually studying two to three hours a day? Was there a reason why you picked the amount of time so like, two and a half, three hours, depending on the day? Or was it pretty much just because that's all you could fit in?

Michael Tombor 18:48
So yeah, so I what really got me into doing it like really consistently every day is starting 100 the 100 days of code challenge. I do it on Twitter. So on there, he recommends at least an hour. So that's kind of the goal I shoot for. And I figure you know, as long as I'm consistent, that's the most important thing. So I tried to make a goal that I knew that I could do every day. If I said, like, five hours, I'd probably with my schedule, I'd probably burn out pretty quick. So I picked one to two hours, sometimes three, depending on how my day is going. And I started doing it routinely. And then once you start doing it routinely, it, you know, it stops becoming a chore and just becomes kind of part of your daily habit. And the community on hundred days of code is really great. You know, there's people from all over the world doing it, which is pretty cool. So I'd recommend anybody listening to just check that out. And you know, if you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to me about like, you know, the rules. It's pretty, pretty laid back with hundred days of code. Like if you're on vacation or whatever, you can, you know, pause the challenge and you could resume it. It's not like you have to start from the beginning.

Laurence Bradford 20:00
We're taking a quick break from this interview to hear a word from our sponsors, who helped make the learn to code me podcast a reality.

Laurence Bradford 20:08
Fullstack Academy is a leading coding boot camp that helps students become great software developers and get jobs at top tier companies. Fullstack advanced software engineering immersive course gives you the skills you need to launch your dream career in tech, with a cutting edge curriculum and supportive educational environment. full stack has helped graduates get jobs at companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook along with many others. Fullstack software engineering immersive is taught on campus in New York City and Chicago and is accessible from everywhere through full stacks remote, immersive go to fullstackacademy.com to learn more. Fullstack Academy making great people into great developers

Laurence Bradford 20:58
Flatiron School's online web design program community powered boot camp and free boot camp prep courses are perfect for anyone interested in a career change and becoming a developer. Flatiron students come from a range of backgrounds from financial to creative. What they all have in common is the passion, grit and determination to learn to love code. Flatiron's rigorous 800+ hour curriculum will teach you the skills you need to land a fulfilling career as a software engineer. Learn to Code With Me listeners can get an awesome $500 off their first month to get started on that career change. Just visit flatironbootcampprep.com. One online Flatiron student said he'd learned more in a couple of days with flat iron than a year of computer science classes. If you're interested in learning how to think like a real developer while using tools actual developers use check out flat irons online web developer program at flatironbootcampprep.com and claim your $500 discount.

Laurence Bradford 21:59
Yeah, yeah we had Alex yeah, Alexander Calloway on in season three, Episode Seven, we'll make sure to link to that. And he's the creator of 100 Days of Code. I know though there's folks that haven't listened to that interview, or they haven't heard of this yet. And they're just brand new to coding. Could you explain like, super quick what the concept of 100 Days of Code is?

Michael Tombor 22:20
Yeah, absolutely. So 100 Days of Code. It's just like, a hashtag on Twitter. But there's also a website that kind of lists the rules. So pretty much all you do is you code all day, and then at the end of the day, you do a quick little write up of what you learned that day. And the act of writing it down, really helps to solidify some concepts that you went over that day, especially if they're really challenging, because it forces you to communicate what you learned to your followers. So that is one huge benefit from the challenge that I didn't even anticipate. And then the other thing is just, you know, you're you're dead. Kidding three months of your life to coding at least an hour every day. And it's just amazing looking back on all your tweets to see like what you've learned in that time. I definitely owe a lot of my knowledge and lots of, you know, lots of the new skills that I've picked up to doing this challenge.

Laurence Bradford 23:20
Great. Everyone should definitely check that out. And as you said, they have a website, and it's also a hashtag on Twitter. But aside from 100 Days of Code, it sounds like that really helped your learning and helped us build this routine and get into a habit of learning every day. Do you have any other time management tips for people that are especially in your position where they're working full time they have a family, they have a bunch of other things going on?

Michael Tombor 23:45
Yeah, definitely. Um, so I have like, a couple bullet points that I'd recommend. So it's kind of a methodical approach. So first, I'd recommend creating, you know, some personalized goals because if you don't have have long term goals, you don't have that motivation driving you to achieve it, then it's going to be a lot harder to reach it. So just sit down and think, you know, write down three to five ambitious goals that you want to complete by the end of the year. And then you could start thinking about how to break those bigger goals down into small actionable steps. So a non coding example would be like, if you're running a marathon, you obviously have to sign up for the marathon, you need to buy shoes, and you need to make a training regimen. And it's the same with coding you, you set a lofty goal for yourself, and then just think about the natural path on how to get there. And that will really help you plan it out. And I'd also recommend, you know, just to stay balanced, do the same thing with a personal goal of yours. And that will help you lead more of a balanced life and when you're balanced, you're just more focused and energized to tackle your goals. And then you know, second I'd say just make a simple schedule. It doesn't have to be You know, set in stone, just set aside, you know, some time to code every day. And if you don't think that you have time, I really would encourage you to do a time audit. So what a time audit is, is you just kind of like, you know, write down what you're doing throughout the day. And I'm sure you'd be surprised to see you know, how much time you actually spend been binge watching Netflix or checking Facebook or any social media. So that's a really powerful tool to kind of open your eyes and see, oh, I do have an extra hour a day that I could easily allocate to learning to code.

Michael Tombor 25:37
And then, you know, once you have your schedule set, you want to fill your time with quality. So I recommend you know, picking a quality program that already it's like a course so you don't have to waste time thinking about what to learn next. So it's great to start with Free Code Camp. I also really enjoyed the web dev web Dev Bootcamp by Cold Steel. If you pick something like that, when it's time to code, you can get right to it. You don't have to waste time, you know, what am I going to work on today. And then lastly, my last tip. It's called multiplying your time. And it's a little counterintuitive. But before I code, I want to prime my brain for learning. And yeah, helps you retain more information. So what you do is you want to release dopamine. And dopamine is actually a chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy and get your brain ready to learn. So before I sit down a code, I'll write some things that I'm grateful for that day, or journal about a positive experience, or I'll go for a short walk. And this actually releases dopamine in your brain. So you're ready to learn, you feel happy, and then you'll retain the knowledge better from your coding session. So those are just some quick tips to kind of like hack, hack coding and get more out of your time.

Laurence Bradford 26:58
Oh, I love that. I have not heard the last one, but I want to recap them real quick. So you first mentioned personalized goals, setting like longer term goals, breaking them down into smaller goals. You also mentioned like staying balanced in there. The next thing you said was creating a schedule. And if someone doesn't feel like they have time to do a time audit. The next thing you mentioned was choosing a quality program or course you specifically mentioned Free Code Camp and then the web Dev Bootcamp I Cold Steel, which I believe is on Udemy.

Michael Tombor 27:28
Yep, that is on Udemy.

Laurence Bradford 27:29
And the last thing I forget what you call this, but you said priming your brain for learning and really see this dopamine and journaling or walking.

Michael Tombor 27:36
Yeah, there's lots of--

Laurence Bradford 27:37
Yeah, is that what's the right or what's the way we're, how do you refer to that?

Michael Tombor 27:41
So it's called multiplying your time.

Laurence Bradford 27:43
Multiplying your time, okay.

Michael Tombor 27:44
And this is actually you know, one of the most important things for people who don't have much time so if you only have an hour, you really want to suck everything you can out of that hour you have. So by just spending five minutes or so, five to 10 minutes, you know, writing some Thing positive down going on a short walk, doing even a random act of kindness, it releases dopamine in your brain. And that chemical actually, they've done studies, actually, Prime's, the learning centers in your brain. And it allows you to retain a lot more information. So if you do that right before you code, you won't have to relearn what you just learned later, you'll just remember it.

Laurence Bradford 28:24
That's really cool. I don't know if I've ever heard that before. Maybe I haven't. I've just forgotten. But that's one thing I don't know if I've ever heard of. So do you do that every single time before you learn?

Michael Tombor 28:34
Yeah, I really tried to, if I don't, you know, if I'm, if I don't do any of them, at least going to walk, because that that really is just an easy thing to do. You don't even have to really think about it. You could listen to a podcast or whatever, go on a 10 minute walk and then you're ready to code. And in my article, I talk about this more and I I give credit to the guy who did the research on this. It's really interesting if you want to look more into it.

Laurence Bradford 28:58
Awesome. How did you learn about That like just wondering, like did did you read researching, like time management tips? Or how'd you find out about that?

Michael Tombor 29:07
Yeah, I just really love. You know, I just love TED Talks. And I just kind of saw that Ted Talk. And, you know, kind of like you had that reaction, like, what multiplying your time what's that about? So I just kind of clicked on it. And it was really interesting that, you know, being happy and positive, you know, it doesn't just make you happier, but it actually makes you more successful. And, you know, by doing these little things, it could really radiate throughout your life. And it doesn't just help you when you're coding. But, you know, throughout your day, you're thinking about, like, what am I going to journal about later, like, let's are let's do a random act of kindness, you know, so it's just another little thing to do, to, you know, help help you balanced and it prevents burnout.

Laurence Bradford 29:51
Awesome. I really like that I'm definitely gonna look into that more myself, cuz that sounds really interesting and super helpful for people who want to make the most of their time. There are two things that I wanted to mention with what you had said. So you mentioned the personalized goals. And I love the idea of breaking bigger goals into smaller steps. So there's a book that I read, oh gosh, a few, actually, probably about 12 weeks ago, and it's called 12. Week here. I won't get into a bunch of it now. But the whole concept with the book is treating a year like 12 weeks. But basically, you've set this 12 week goal like a few 12 week bigger goals, and there's a whole way to set them and then every single week you plan your week, you even plan your days around like those 12 week goals. And it's just, it helps you like break bigger goals into smaller steps. So I really like that I did my first one recently. This is actually my 12th week of the last 12 weeks. So I'm on week 12 of my first 12 weeks a year. There's definitely things that could have done better, but I think it's just like a really good way to you know, to Longer term goal set, but also thinking about the day to day. The other thing you mentioned with the time audit, I love that tip to something that I use, it's called rescue time. So it's like something you download on your computer, it's free, they private pro version, I just use a free one. And it'll look at all of your applications that you use. So not just websites like they look at that, but also like an actual application or computer like Excel or Word, and then it'll send you a weekly report. You can probably get date daily ones though. And it's just like where you spent your time on the computer.

Michael Tombor 31:30
Oh, awesome. Yeah, check that out.

Laurence Bradford 31:32
Yeah, like I'm sure there's a lot more you could do with the results and finding ways to cut things out but what I really use it for so at work, we use slack all the time. And like that was the biggest surprise to me was how many hours I spent in the slack application every single week. So it makes me a lot more mindful just about like not sitting in Slack, you know, during work and actually being like, actionable and like doing like real work, not just talking about work. In Slack, but that's a whole other thing.

Michael Tombor 32:01
Yeah. Yes. All funny meme. I was like, slack went down, productivity went up or something like that. And it was just so funny because I've realized the same thing about slack is like, yeah, you could sit there and just talk and talk about like your goals and like about work and what you're doing. But that's a cool tool. I'll definitely check that out. You said it was called rescue time.

Laurence Bradford 32:23
Yep, yep, rescue time. And it is something you download on your computer because it looks at like everything you're doing not just in the web, because I know there's also chrome there. I mean, there's a ton of productivity, Chrome extensions I used to use. I forget the name, but I also used to do lots of pomodoro timers, which I don't know if you're familiar with but it's like a 25 minute, intense period of focus. And then you take a five minute break and you do like three sets, they take a 15 minute break. I used to do that all the time. And it worked really well. But now just with, you know, the way life changes, it doesn't really make sense for me to do anymore.

Laurence Bradford 32:55

Laurence Bradford 32:56

Michael Tombor 32:56
Yeah. That's a Commodore. That really is Try that before and it is great. And it's like you said 25 minutes. And then by the time it's done, you're like, I just want to keep going, you know. And it's it's easier to sit down for 25 minutes and saying, I'm gonna sit down for two hours, you know. So it's like you start out with 25. And then two hours later.

Laurence Bradford 33:16
Yeah, hundred percent. So you mentioned already a few different ways that you learn. You mentioned like podcasts. You mentioned Free Code Camp, you mentioned the course by Colt. Is there anything else that you do to learn that you think has really helped you so far? Your journey?

Michael Tombor 33:32
Yeah, so something that's helped me, you know, maybe the most is finding people to help hold you accountable. And you know, you could do this by going to local meetups or just meeting people online. I've made some really great friends and they've had aligned goals, and they're really driven people just by going to my local community meetups, and it led to me joining what's called a mastermind group. So I I don't know if the listeners are all aware. So a mastermind group is just a group of people who meet regularly to discuss what they're working on what goals they have, and then you kind of set, we set a six month goal, and we meet bi weekly to kind of touch base on our progress towards that. And it's just really great to you know, chat, make friends, and then you know, be held accountable and keep focused on your goals. So that's, that's one tool that, you know, I think people should take more advantage of, because it's hard to do it by yourself, you know, if you if you hit a plateau or a rough patch, sometimes just takes a friend to, you know, kind of remind you, you know, what your end goals are and put you back on the a good learning path.

Laurence Bradford 34:41
Yeah, I love that. I've been in a mastermind group before and it was definitely really helpful and it really helped me stay accountable. I was actually in one. So it's kind of meta, so that's why I'm sharing it behind you with podcasting. So as before I launched my podcast, I was in a mastermind group with two other women that were also trying to launch They're like first podcast. And we would meet every week. And all of our end goal was launching a podcast and I, I feel like I would have done it even if I wasn't in the mat, like I would have met my goal, but it definitely helps to be with other people who are going through the same thing and like experiencing especially with podcasting for me, because I had no idea like what I was doing with anything in podcasting, so it was great just to like, have that knowledge, that knowledge share. Yeah, well, thank you so much, Mike, for sharing all this. This is all really helpful. We have you shared so much awesome advice with time management and goal setting and finding more in your day. Is there anything else so that you would like to add, especially like advice for listeners that don't think they have the time to learn to code they want to learn but they're just not really dedicating the time to it that they can every single day?

Michael Tombor 35:53
You know, let me think about that for a second so that you like something else that will help help them --

Laurence Bradford 35:58
Or maybe it's something you already said but It's it. I'm just just wanna make sure there's nothing we didn't get to talk about that you wanted to.

Michael Tombor 36:05
Yeah, so first, you know, just drink more coffee. I'm just kidding. But, um, yeah, like, one other tool, actually, that comes to mind is Trello. So it's just like this. It's like a visual, kind of like a bulletin board that you can put your goals on there. And you can put, you can break your large goals down into smaller ones within the different cards. And it's good to just kind of, you know, have a list of your projects and a list of the next steps to, you know, work towards completing those projects. I've noticed that once I've gotten that and set my Trello board up, it's really helped me stay focused, you know, if I, if I see something really exciting, because you know, in tech, there's always new stuff coming out all the time. So it's easy to kind of, you know, drop everything you're doing and start learning that new thing, but I'll first ask myself Does this align with my long term goals? And then If yes, then I'll find a way to work it into my, my goals, and then I'll add it on my Trello board. And then it's right there. I could just look at that, when I sit down to code and be like, okay, that's what I'm doing today. So, if you don't have one of those, check it out. And that's just a little another little tool that might help somebody.

Laurence Bradford 37:20
Yeah, that's really that's a great tip. So do you use it to help manage like your day to day and what you're doing and making sure it aligns with your long term goals?

Michael Tombor 37:29
Yeah. So I read, I read the Getting Things Done book. And I don't know if you're, you may have read it or not. And, you know, they have all these different you have the projects list, and then your next actions list. And I was like, well, that's just a lot of lists to keep. So I just throw it all on a Trello board and it's easy to just kind of look at that and you get a little snapshot of, you know, what, what you want to accomplish. So it just makes it easy, and it declares your mind a little bit You don't have to remember at all, you could just, you know, look Get a look at it and get get working.

Laurence Bradford 38:02
Awesome. Nice. Well, thank you for that final tip. So again, Mike, thank you so much for coming on. This was great. Where can people find you online?

Michael Tombor 38:10
Yeah, so people can find me online, on Medium or at Twitter, or even at my website, michaeltombor.com. And feel free to reach out, reach out to me with any questions or, you know, comments. I love, you know, connecting with anybody.

Laurence Bradford 38:27
Awesome. Thank you again for coming on.

Michael Tombor 38:29
Yeah, thank you, Laurence, for having me. It was so fun. I love your show.

Laurence Bradford 38:37
Just a quick note before you go, if you're feeling inspired by Michael's story, and you want to follow in his footsteps, you can find the course he mentioned the web developer bootcamp at learntocodewith.me/webdev. That's all one word, learntocodewith.e/w-e-b-d-e-v. That's an affiliate link so if you buy the course, I'll get a small commission for referring you. Thanks for your support of the show and I'll see you next time.

Key takeaways:

  • Just getting started? Immerse yourself in tech to prime your brain for the new experience. Go to meetups and talk to people, listen to podcasts, watch videos.
  • People are friendly and helpful in the tech community, taking time out of their lives to teach others, which you don’t always see in other industries.
  • Stay balanced. When you live a more balanced life, you’re more focused and more energized to tackle your goals. Take a few minutes to go for a short walk, write in a journal, or do random acts of kindness–it makes you feel happy and helps you to retain knowledge.
  • If you’re learning to code while working full time, make a schedule. “No time to code”? Do a time audit–write down what you’re doing throughout the day and you’ll be surprised what you spend your time on.
  • Stay organized by setting goals in manageable chunks, and keeping track with a project management tool like Trello.
Sign up - simple 4-part framework for landing side gigs

Links and mentions from the episode:

Thanks for listening!

Thanks so much for tuning in! Remember, you can listen to the Learn to Code With Me podcast on the following platforms:

  1. The LTCWM website (https://learntocodewith.me/podcast/)
  2. iTunes
  3. Overcast
  4. Stitcher
  5. iHeartRadio

If you have a few extra minutes, please rate and review the show in iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show. I would really, really appreciate it!

Special thanks to this episode’s sponsors

Fullstack Academy: Fullstack Academy is one of the nation’s top coding bootcamps with the curriculum, the career guidance, and most importantly the community support to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Fullstack’s advanced software engineering immersive course gives you the skills you need to launch your dream career in tech. Go to FullstackAcademy.com to learn more.

Flatiron School: Flatiron School offers an online web developer program with a focus on community, actual development tools, and a curriculum that will teach you the skills you need to land a career as a developer. Visit flatironbootcampprep.com to get an amazing $500 off your first month.