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Discussion on: How to Stay Fit Physically and Mentally and Keep Coding

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drdomski

I’m lucky enough to work from home most day’s, and have been doing so for the last 17 years. In the early years I made the mistake of letting the fact that I was at home lead me into working more and more, sometimes at ridiculous times. When I found myself getting out of bed at 2am to do an hour of work before going back to bed, I knew I had a problem.

After many experiments I now have a general schedule that I try to follow, which works for me and keeps me productive, fit and sane.

First hour, catch up on email, admin, calls etc. The rest of the morning is for work, either dev, design, project management. I try and work in bursts, around specific tasks, similar to pommodoro. I don’t impose time limits on the bursts, but at the end of each I will get up, walk around, make a drink. Or if a task has taken just a few minutes, I will check the news, read a blog. My aim is to reset my mind by thinking about or doing something else for a few minutes, before I embark on the next task.

I don’t take a scheduled lunch hour, but usually after 3-4 hours I will stop and take the dog for a walk for 45 mins or so and then have a light quick lunch.

When I restart work, I will take typically take 15-30 mins to catch up on emails, calls and then work the rest of the day.

My working day will normally start at 9am, but sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Generally I work an 8 hour day, Monday to Friday and I don’t work outside of those times, ever. In terms of output, a 40 hour week will give me about 30 hours of quality billable development, which I think is an acceptable return, and another 10 hours to run the business. Where I’m working with colleagues on projects I wouldn’t expect more than 30 hours of output per week.

This compares to other times over the years when I’ve naively worked 70-90 hour weeks and probably lucky to be 50% productive, with the quality of the output at sometimes questionable.

Outside of work, I have a hobby which has nothing to do with programming, and I try to go to the gym 3 times a week.

I am lucky in that I get to define my working environment but I know from experience that a disciplined, structured approach is vital. Currently I would say my work life balance is about the best it’s ever been.