There are thousands of articles, videos and guides with tips on how to be a better developer. Ways you can make your code cleaner, how you can estimate work better or communicate well with non-technical colleagues. Rather than cover any of those I am going to give you the single best thing you can adopt to improve your career and your life.
DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’RE GOING TO DO
Seriously, so many people don’t keep their word that just simply making sure you follow through and are reliable will put you head and shoulders above everyone else.
This sounds like obvious advice, surely everyone keeps their word? Well, take a moment and think about it ... how often have your broken your word? Not just to others but to yourself as well.
How many times did you set out to learn to code? How many times have you said you'll get up at 6 AM, only to change your mind at 6:01 AM? How many times have you said you'll follow up and email someone and just haven't? Eat healthier and then the next day eaten a family sized bag of Doritos?
We tend to think about "Our Word" as commitments to big and important stuff, like not cheating on our spouse or picking a parent up from the airport in mid-winter. But our word is pervasive, it is about all aspects in our life, from getting up when we say we will to updating a Jira ticket and completing a code review by the end of the day like we promised.
Think about how many times someone has broken their word to you. How did that make you feel? How did they manage the situation? Imagine if you NEVER broke yours?
You would almost certainly make less commitments but people would learn that when you say you will do something, it will get done. You become a person who can be relied on, who can be trusted and promoted above others.
If you know that something is going to slip, that you are going to have to break your word then it's your responsibility to tell the person relying on you. Propose a mitigation "I can't do that PR today but I have asked Brian to do it and he promises it will get done" or a new time frame "This work was bigger than I thought, I need another day, does that work for you? If not then we need to form a plan to fix this and make sure it doesn't happen again"
Give your word and mean it.
Own your word and protect it.
What if your word was iron? Sheeesh, then you’d be dangerous!