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Full-time, side projects, learning, and staying sane

Anna Simoroshka on November 14, 2018

It seems to be a rather common thing, especially among fresh developers, to feel that you can't manage working full-time, constantly learning and s...
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Ben Halpern

This is incredibly wise advice.

My overarching advice that applies to all of this: Don't overoptimize any of these points. At least for me, I've found myself choosing my social activities a little too wisely for example, and I end up stressing about it. You sort of alluded to that. There's definitely a relaxed middle ground to be.

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Anna Simoroshka Author • Edited

Thank you!

It is very easy for me to give up on the most important things first: physical activity and social life. My partner is pushing me out of my shell and I often find myself stressing out because "I want to spend Sunday working on my things, not hosting people, chatting, and having fun!". So I have to remind myself about the importance of living outside of the code editor.

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Ben Halpern

Same ๐Ÿ™ƒ

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Blaine Osepchuk

There's a line from an old country song that goes something like "nobody wishes they'd spent more time at the office on their deathbed."

So true.

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Alexander Antoniades

Totally right. Coding is fun of course but you need some balance. Life is to be lived.

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Blaine Osepchuk

This is a good post on an important topic, Anna. Thanks for writing it.

I program outside of work on side projects, "keep up-to-date" with our industry, and have hobbies.

I think you hit the nail on the head. You have to "find your rhythm". I'm not sure that process will be the same for everyone though.

I'd like to make three points:

  1. Don't try to compete with the personas people are projecting. We're all showing our 'best selves' on the internet. Only the rare guru is going to write a blog post about how much they are struggling and how burned out they are. Everyone else is going to project 'success' at all costs.
  2. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. There's no reason a healthy programmer couldn't work well into his or her seventies. But what's the chance you'll be healthy in your seventies if you don't exercise and take care of yourself now.
  3. Take vacations. Real-ones. You would not believe how much more productive I am after two weeks at the beach with a stack of good books and no internet. I feel like a different person.
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Anna Simoroshka Author

The process and the details are definitely going to be different for different people. This is why my list is as generic as it can get, to the point I felt it's just repeating the obvious.

Totally agree with your points number 1 and 2. Vacations are tricky and also can be different thing for different people. I feel like I have a jelly instead of a brain if my vacation is long and I don't do much, so I try to split it in short getaways.

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Blaine Osepchuk

Yup, you have to figure out what works for your vacations too.

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marc_m_b

Thank you for "Take vacations. Real-ones " I take vacations but not really keeping away of thinking of work and programming, that nearly drove me the a burnout!

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Pawel Sawicki

Although it makes sense to me (I have a similar bio) I came to an entirely different conclusion: Drop the full time permanent employment and become a part time remote working freelancer. Invest more time in yourself. Constantly learn new things... stagnation is a problem. Exercise, stay healthy, enjoy time with family and friends.

Btw ... as a part time freelancer, working remotely youโ€™ll earn much more money, so even a sabbatical after each project is possible.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

This is a valid option that works great for some people! Awesome that you were able to design your life the way that works for you.

I tried freelancing several times and came to a conclusion I don't want to do it just yet. I hated looking for clients and projects. I hated the fact that, as a beginner, I couldn't offer much value.
And I really need a structure and stability.

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Peter

It's great going freelance works for you! :) I think it's important to know that going freelance is always an option to consider.

I myself do need the feeling of security that being employed grants me, so I'm quite certain going freelance wouldn't work for me specifically. At least at the moment. Maybe I'll try that in the future with 50% freelance 50% part-time employment.

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Anna

That sounds like a dream but must be hard to do in reality...

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Daniel Kiedrowski

Really good post! Thank you. And I agree 100%. Especially, till I had the same life before and figured out the same rules helping me. It works!

Two things made a big difference for me:

  1. wake up at 5AM and go to bed at 11PM as consistently as possible. Waking up at 5 PM gives me a solid 3-4 hours (depending on whether I donโ€™t or do remote work this day) ! This additional time I currently use to learn a new language for one hour and work on my side project(s). After work there is still enough time to have some quality time with my friends or girlfriend or go to the gym.

  2. donโ€™t work from a todo list. The internet says there is a study that 41% of all items written on todo lists get never done. I havenโ€™t checked and it is not really my key point here. A todo list tells you what you think you need to do, but not when. A Calendar does. Having a long todo list for me, started making the feeling of having not enough time even worse. So what I do now: I use the todo list as a tool to clear my mind of reoccurring thoughts. To ease my anxiety that I might forget something important. And then I use my calendar to plan out my week. I use time slots and plan the time from 5AM to 11 PM for each day of the next week on Sunday. Weekends are not planned. This helps me to calm this feeling of not having enough time, because the calendar clearly shows me what is possible in the coming week and gives me the feeling that every aspect of my life will get touched during the week.

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Anna

Love the advice on number 2 but number 1 really does not apply to many people who are more productive and energetic at night. When left to my own devices without a schedule, I go to bed at sunrise and wake up in the afternoon. I am really happy and full of energy at around midnight. I feel ready to take on the world.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

It is amazing how different people's brains work! I am the opposite: not a morning person at all, and calendars give me huge anxiety because I can never stick to the time slots and it takes too much effort to constantly adjust. So todo lists are everything to me. I keep them short for the current stuff and stuck away the long lists of what I will have to do later. I gladly remove those 59% of things that I won't do (not everything HAS to be done).
But my partner is the same as you: he likes doing most of his work in the early morning and keeps his google calendar so full it gives me anxiety just to glance at it. :D

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Kevin Hooke

I think the key for everyone to understand with these recommendation lists are to try a few different approaches (getting up early, working late, todo lists or no todo lists), and find what works for you. We're all different, and what works for one person (like getting up at 5am) would be the worst approach to get anything done at all for another person.

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Amy Rutherford • Edited

I dropped a lot of interests in the past couple of years because of financial issues and having to focus on learning things that could transfer into marketable skills. Now that my course is done, I want to work some of things I used to like back into my daily routine, but I constantly have that "I should be productive" nag in my head. Hoping I can balance things so I don't become one of those dull "if it won't make you money it's worthless" people.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

I had to do the same when I finished my degree and faced the reality: I need a job to pay for living expenses and to stay in the country, and I don't have much of a marketable skill set. So I gave up on what was at that moment a dream - game dev - and pumped myself up on modern web development, giving up pretty much everything for a couple of months. It was extremely difficult to get out of the "I must do things" mindset. Especially when you keep setting new goals.

But yeah, try to switch your attention. At a point, I took drawing classes online, did some crafting, tried to learn musical instruments. Even simply playing video games helps. "I must do things" should also be accompanied by "I must have fun".

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Amy Rutherford

It's nice to know I'm not the only one struggling.

I don't have a tech job yet, but I feel like now that I'm somewhat competent I should try to balance things out, because trying to get find work is its own ball of stress. I haven't crafted anything but code for the past nine months and forgotten what tv and movies are. I might save the binge watching for when the money comes in more steady, but I can knit a sock or pick up a Japanese book and start from the beginning....again. It will probably be a slow start but I'm going to get back to myself somehow.

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Anna Simoroshka Author • Edited

9 months is a lot! Actually, it is good to take a day or two completely off and binge watch whatever, or even better - go somewhere. You'll be more relaxed if you allow yourself to do it once in a while (which of course can be quite tricky to do, mentally, because "must do all the things").
I find that scheduling idle and fun time is better than scheduling work. You know that you have those hours set aside and that you are allowed to do anything or to do nothing.

Do try to balance things out now, because getting a job is only a beginning of a new interesting but challenging stage.

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Amy Rutherford

Yep. It was a last ditch effort to learn after trying to learn on my own, getting stuck and giving up for a while. A lot of things happened that gave me a lot of free time so I went ham on it since I was starting from almost zero.

I thought about how monks have each hour of the day scheduled and I might have to put reminders in my calendar. I finished my web dev class a few weeks ago and I'm still trying to decompress, even though I see the gaps that need to be filled in. Mixing things up will keep me from overdoing it I hope! The mixed blessing of not having a deadline for a while.

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Carles Mata

Great post! Just the situation I'm having this year.. I'm working 45h / week or more, and everyday I spend 1h in conmute. And I always feel I don't have enough time to learn new things, have side projects and have fun outside development. My actual situation vs the changes I want to make are:

  • I go running 2 times a week, but spend a lot of hours sitting on a desk the rest of the time. I don't feel that extra energy you talk about, so I think I should exercise more than I do to feel it. Anyway, I plan to exercise 4-5 times a week: 30-40 minutes during the week and all the time I can on weekends, but always longer.
  • I'm starting to wake up 30 minutes earlier every morning from Monday to Friday. When I get used to it, I'll wake 30 more to have 1 hour of extra time every morning. I'll use 2 days to exercise and 3 to learning.
  • I stripped down Facebook and removed the mobile app. I only log in by web and maybe 1-2 times per month. I still have to spend less time on Twitter and Instagram.
  • And my main problem, one of your advices: focus. When I have free time, I spend a lot checking e-mail, RSS, or just maintaining the to-do list. I need to reduce that and spend more time just DOING. I'll take your advice to dedicate almost half an hour per day to the side projects.

So as you see, I'm still trying to find my rhythm and staying sane, because currently it's a bit of a mess.. hahaha Thank you four sharing this!

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Kyle May

Yep. It's all about finding the best productive moments in the day and devoting them to work, and that's certainly much different from person to person.

I'm personally productive at 9AM to 1 PM sluggish and unproductive from 3 PM to 8 PM but I hit my most productive period from 9 PM to 2 AM

A lot of people actually have multiple productive and unproductive periods during a day, but unnecessarily constrain themselves into a binary circumstance of being a night owl or a morning person.

You could take this further in that people also might unnecessarily constrain themselves into a 24 hour cycle. I personally have 3 days a week where I work most of my hours, and 3 days where I relax and work on hobbies, social activities, fitness, etc. This conflicts with my unproductive periods, but I find that the added goal and time crunch gives me more motivation, focus, and enjoyment than I would otherwise have.

I personally burn out much faster working consistently for 5 or 6 days even if it's less hours, because I like to devote long focused periods (12+ hours) to whatever i feel like doing. My family knows if I go into work mode that they wont see me for the day, but the reverse is true for family mode where I spend all of my time and focus on them.

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Carles Mata

Working full day 3 days and resting other 3 sounds really interesting. But it's not an option for me as I work in a company that is very strict with time and presence. It's old fashioned and I have to be 8h/day like if I would have to be open to clients. Like in a clothes shop or businesses like that. It's a pity, but what I have at this time.

I think my day is not binary like I'm productive at morning and unproductive at night. It's more like an energy bar, full at the morning and near empty at nights. It's strange because I can go to run either mornings or nights with more or less the same result, but my development focus is very different, high at morning, half at midday and finding really difficult to focus at nights.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

Great plan! Try changing this and that and see what works for you.

Yes, exercising works when you do it consistently, preferably every day. Hitting 10000 steps can also be considered an exercise, and a short 10 minutes intense workout can work even better than an hour long session. I am still struggling establishing a consistent routine with this one.

When you get to wake up earlier, remember that you don't actually make an extra hour in your day, there are always 24 of them, and you'll need to go to bed earlier anyway. Unless you are super productive in the morning, it might not make much of a difference. Giving up on things that don't give you any value is much better.

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Carles Mata

Well, I didn't explain you.. I'm a morning guy and at nights I usually watch films or series. Nothing more than distract my mind because the rest of the day I'm doing a lot of things. So waking up one hour earlier means that I go to bed the same hour earlier, so I convert one "video hour" to a productive hour. That's why I said I'll have extra time. :)

Anyway, as you recommend it's a kind of way to give up things that only give me some fun and nothing really valuable.

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Peter

Thanks for your valuable advice. Especially the choosing-your-social-activities and the get-help parts.

I also tried doing everything all at once: full-time CS studies, part-time employment, pursuing all my hobbies (LARP, D&D, programming, tinkering with electronics), and partaking in all the social stuff with all my friends at once. Needless to say it didn't work out, since I also needed more than 4 hours of sleep a night. So I decided to cut back on a lot of things.

What did work out is essentially what you describe: carefully cutting back on my studies, hobbies and social stuff (cutting back on work was no option). Being a very social and time-consuming hobby, only playing pen-and-paper RPGs "survived" the process as a serious hobby. To stay sane, I roughly plan two weeks in advance while keeping two days a week work-free*. Also, being a bit of an introvert, I sprinkle the whole thing with an evening of solitude once every one or two weeks - even my s.o. doesn't see me on those evenings, and it works very well!

(*work meaning both paid work and working on university projects, papers, or my thesis)

The whole process did prolong my studies, but I eventually reached a point with consistent productivity - and with much lower levels of stress because of that. Having cut back on so many things even lets me act spontaneously again - it makes me feel like I'm in control of my schedule again, and not the other way round.

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Ekim Kael

Thanks for writing this Anna, I think I might read this every week(Monday)
Also all the comments here,

I am currently in a stressful situation mainly because of my family and I don't have any jobs but I would try to apply your advice to see if it works for me if not pick in the comments to adjust

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Anna Simoroshka Author

Thank you! Yes, the comments are incredibly useful here, I am so glad.

If you pick only one thing at a time it might be easier to incorporate in your life. Personally, I'd start with exercise and rest as the most influential thing.
I hope it gets better for you soon.

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Ekim Kael

I'll try my best

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Periklis Gkolias

Looks like this article was written for me. :) I do have a commute of 45 minutes(one way), I am working on my side project(s), I do spend some time for self-learning(currently taking lessons about deep learning), exercising 2-3 times per week...and guess what, doing my masters degree at the same time, while trying to keep my social life active.

I can't brag that I have managed to balance all those requirements. But if I can give a couple of tips those would be:

0) Eliminate crap from your life.(Paretto law)
1) Take advantage of your "dead time". I have managed to read more than 20 books this year, just because of that.
2) If you are doing video courses and the material is not extremely advanced, it helps to listen to some parts to 2x speeds.
3) When attending the lectures, be present and active, it will save some reading later on.
4) Code every day, even if it is a single function. This one here: johnresig.com/blog/write-code-ever...
is very inspiring.
5) Dont forget to do funny things,you still need endorphins.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

Do your have any advice on how to decide what is crap in your life and what is not? Sometimes it can feel like all things are super important or needed.

Yes, funny things! Fun is really important.

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Periklis Gkolias

It is mostly being cynical about my targets. Something like the YAGNI but for life.

Lets say my schedule for a normal Thursday would be:

  • Go to the gym
  • Grab a beer with a friend
  • Work a bit on my side project
  • Revise yesterdays slides from master
  • Progress with the introductory blockchain course I am watching

You need to apply the 80/20 law here. So you need to pick only one.

  • If fitness matters for you(for example but not limited to, you had an accident and you want to become stronger) gym is a top priority.
  • IF social stuff matters more, beer

You got the point.

What if you want more than 1 to progress? You have to pick them interchangeably. And of course it helps to leverage your time(shameless advertising): dev.to/perigk/the-art-of-leveragin...

PS I just realised I never pusblished this article. Hmm

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Decebal Dobrica

This article is inspiring Anna, I feel challenged to write my own now. Albeit I am a little less emphatic and I would offer less answers, more questions.

I too tend to want to do programming outside work hours or record video courses, but somehow I seem to get a little bit ahead of myself when doing side project and allow exploration a way too important role, that led to me failing to be successful in doing so.

While finding a rhythm and staying sane is always a different challenge and as I found out a constant struggle our human nature wants to be in (constant change). Grappling at how other people deal with this has hardly been positive to be.

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Sean Ahern

This is excellent advice. Thank you for sharing. Iโ€™ve had to address almost all of these issues in the past year and have never felt better. Initially i thought Iโ€™d end up โ€œdoing lessโ€, as if thatโ€™s net negative, but ultimately Iโ€™m doing a higher volume of valuable, heart-centered work. โœŒ๏ธ

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Adrian B.G.

Wow nicely written. I can guarantee that these advice work because I am applying them for years, but never realized that I can summarize and share them.

  • Time - I have the luxury to choose only jobs with low commute duration, and I apply many Team-management skills to my personal life. The family is a team and can be managed. My colleagues that are living in Rent apartments are always moving near the offices (we moved the office twice). I did 45 min commutes and at my new job I cut it down to 5.

  • Exercise - I did some A/B testing and a few hours a week are great for me.

  • Focus - It is all about priorities. Many years ago I realized that I cannot have more then 3 main focus areas at a time, in my life. The first two are family, and as a side effect providing money. The third and secondary targets are switched each year: learning, a hobby or other extra stuff.

The downside is that I had to let go to many other things, so I do better at the main activities.

  • Brick by brick - I use all the free time I have, but the long projects (that takes more than 4-5 hours) are sometimes finished in a span of weeks. You can accomplish many things if you persevere.

  • Social activities are a priority for the peers I always keep hearing "I do not have time ...". They do not realize this of course. I cut off from my life many "mandatory events and gatherings", that did not bring awesome in my life. I was wasting time just because of social pressure.

  • Marathon. I often speak to people that want to become developers, and I am portraying this "IT" industry as a long and hard core marathon. You have to think on the long run. It takes at least a year to get your first job, and many more to build great stuff.

  • Monitoring - I keep a close eye on everything that is a time Sink. When I realized I was checking social networks every 10 minutes I removed them from my phone and some from my life. I keep away from games (being almost an addict).

I know that it sounds lame and "robotic" but if you think about it, if you measure and improve the mandatory activities you spend time, you will have more time to do fun stuff.

Context: I am doing side projects for at least 7 years, I learn a lot, I have a family, I never had a burnout.

I do not wake up early, I work full time at an office, I always work at projects I like and for free. I take entire days and holidays time off with no computer and apps.

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Fabio Rosado

This is such good advice. One of the most important bit would be diet and exercise, I felt completely dead at times, but after starting working out I got more energy and my brain seems to work much better - also focusing for long periods of time is not as painful as it was in the past.

Also this - Expect things to always take much longer than you think. - sometimes I think: "Oh yeah, I encounter this issue somewhere else, this will be quick. A day later I'm still stuck on some weird bug haha

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Anna Simoroshka Author

"Oh yeah, we will have a beta version in 2 months" One year later it is still in the making XD

Good point about the diet. Especially cutting down sugar in general and snacks between meals, this works great for me.

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Prateek Gogia

Currently, I am going through similar kind of process and there are some points which you mentioned are actually very valid in my case.
The major point about commute and working near to house are actually very important. It can save a lot of time and plus the energy as well.
My colleagues think that's a stupid move though, since I've to pay almost double the amount of rent for the place I live in because it is nearby my office.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

I got the same reaction from my colleague. But everyone's workload and priorities are different. I know he doesn't do any side-projects or have time-consuming hobbies except travelling.

When I was making the decision to move, I actually calculated, how much my hour is worth. The rent increase was pretty much covered by the time saved, plus I was saving on commute as well. Add the additional benefits like nearby gym, nice area, and ability to make my own decision when and where I want to have a walk or a bike ride - for me the choice was very clear.

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Prateek Gogia

For me this is like a relief because after hearing from so many people about my decision, I started by decisions.

Coming to side-projects, they are so much important. I think majority of my learning and confidence in writing code has come from there!

In order to that, time and body's will is required which is totally in our hands.
Sad to see that people often neglect this point.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

There is a huge difference between working on an existing code-base and building something real from scratch. I learnt a lot from both type of experience and I see them both important and complimentary to each other.

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Leandro Ardissone

I can't agree more with the commute time advice. I work at 45min on best traffic and it's a pain. You get home really tired and need to do the chores with a bad mood instead. Thanks for this awesome article.

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Juan Pareles

Hi! very nice article, as a developer that has been working on a full-time job plus another one part-time I can agree on every point you present here. However just to enrich the point "Exercise and rest" I could say: respect your sleep hours and make them a habit, you'll have to sacrifice mid-week handouts, watch a series/movie, or anything similar :)

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Anna Simoroshka Author

Oh yes, so true! I totally forgot :)

Not so long ago I stopped using an alarm clock and started listening to my body. What a blessing.

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Gergely Polonkai

Iโ€™m in a lucky position because the train i commute on is not crowded. That means i can use that 1+1 hours to do some work, effectively shortening my office time.

Also, unless sometting urgent is in the queue, i do easy tasks on the train, so my brain can spin up in the morning and down in the afternoon.

So commuting is not necessarily a bad thing. In all the other points, i canโ€™t agree more. Kudos!

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Anna Simoroshka Author

This a very lucky case! Actually, I mentioned it, but since I never had this type of commute I don't really know how well it works. :)

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Charlie Collins

"Expect things to always take much longer than you think" is a truism, if I have ever heard one.

I have worked as a software developer for 25 years and run my own business for the last 16 years. It has nearly broken me on more than one occasion and recognising burn out, depression or anxiety early is the key to putting in control measures as soon as possible.

You need balance in your both personal & work life that only comes from a good work / life balance; get it wrong and you are headed down a one way street you don't want to go down!

Exercise is important, get outside and walking will also help clear your head. When you get stuck, walk away, breadth and you'll return and figure things out far quicker.

Learn to say "No".

Learn to ask for help.

Learn to avoid toxic people.

Learn to meditate; this allows you to clear your head and get everything back into perspective.

Expect the unexpected; that way when it hits you late on a Tuesday afternoon you'll be expecting it.

Keep calm, when everyone else around you is loosing their heads.

Always put the other person first, something I learnt a few years ago and helps when someone is yelling at me because something doesn't work (often down to something beyond the control of the application, etc). It work well in your personal life too!

I hope this helps, but make sure you look after yourself, always!

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AdultChain

I cant tell you how much I needed to hear this from someone who is experienced Ive basically come to the same conclusions myself but it took me a LONG time to confirm it... really have to take care of yourself and not neglect social life... I hate to admit it

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Anna Simoroshka Author

it took me a LONG time as well.. And I also kept repeating same mistakes in different circumstances and I still make a lot of them just not as often.

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Max Antonucci

I definitely agree with the advice related to focusing on the key activities you enjoy the most. It reminds me of similar good advice from a book called "Essentialism," which is the basic mantra of "if it's not a clear yes then it's a clear no." That's what got me to clear up some time and resources in my life earlier on by cancelling my guitar lessons. It was tough, but it was taking time away from things I liked even more and ultimately was the right choice.

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jpventorim • Edited

That came in such a great time. I was until now feeling guilty because I was too slow, or not committed enough with my studies.
I'm a full-time mainframe developer, but I want to migrate to Web Dev, so I'm studying it and trying to create stuff (lacking ideas though D:). But it's so tiresome sometimes. My job is very stressful and when I get home I want to relax, but I know I need to study.
A few weeks ago I stopped eating properly and doing exercises so I had more time to study. I'm feeling the consequences of that bad decision now.

Anyway, time to go back to those small actions that make a lot of difference.

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Yokim Pillay

This is really great advice, Anna! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

If I could add anything, I think it could be to try be kind to yourself, and don't compare yourself to anyone other than your past self, especially if you are in a time of burnout, depression or just feeling horrible about things. Usually it'll just make you feel worse, in my opinion.

I say this because from my experience when things aren't going according to plan (e.g. Having to put a side-project on hold for a while due to some circumstance), I tend to beat myself up and doubt what I do because I see so many other people working their full-time jobs in development, and are involved in open source and are juggling a whole bunch of other things with what looks a smile on their faces.

I'm sure that I'm not alone in feeling this.

Try remember that you're living for yourself, and you shouldn't push yourself in an unhealthy manner because you see others doing what you wish you could.

In my opinion, you can try things out for your Self, to grow your Self, and in the process you will effect change in the areas you desire.

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Paul Jacobson

Hey Anna, thank you for writing this article. I'm trying to learn more around my regular job (which is primarily a support role).

Your advice to do a little every day makes so much sense. Certainly better than waiting for that mythical time on weekends.

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Jaime ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Great article Anna, you are spot on!

  • Eliminate commute as much as possible. Alternatively, reduce your commute as much as possible and learn to enjoy it. I love walking to work while listening to a podcast, or taking the metro while reading a good book on my kindle. :D
  • Exercise and rest. Very yes on all of this. I call this my cornerstone habits. They make everything else in your life better.
  • Focus. This is the secret to being really productive while keeping yourself sane.
  • Do a little bit every day. Totally agree. On two fronts, the results of continuously iterating every day are just amazing and, as you say, silencing that voice in your head, or yearning within your soul. I have a completely different level of inner peace if I find time to work on any of my little love projects. And I'm that much more engaged with those around me.

I had the same experience when I started working at my first full time job as an engineer (yeeeears ago). I remember being always extremely tired and feeling like that work took all of my life and energy out of me. I wondered, is this all there is to life? Is this how my life is going to look for the next 50 years? :D (Back then I didn't know yet I would fall in love with developing software)

The whole thing made me become quite obsessed with being more productive (doing more meaningful things with less) and living a more purposeful and thoughtful life. I wrote an article a while back on how I use goals, systems, reflection, purpose and values to live happier and do more of the stuff that I care about. Could be interesting ๐Ÿ˜Š

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maxdevjs

What it means not the other way around though in this context?

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Anna Simoroshka Author

I meant, some social interactions can drain your energy and some people can be generally unsupportive, and it's better to avoid them.
Sometimes I write in clunky ways..

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maxdevjs

My doubt is: if we mostly spend time with people who support and give us energy, not the other way around... the possible hazard is that we can easily become that kind of unsupportive, draining people. To be avoided. Isn't?

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Anna Simoroshka Author

Healthy relationships are two-way, of course you need to give back.

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Antonio Radovcic
  • It's ok to not have a side-project as a developer, first of all
  • Never ever neglect sleep. A week of only 6 hrs sleep == 1 night without sleep
  • Go for shorter-term side-projects without heavy mental load, that you can pick up quickly and work on in smaller portions
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Anna Simoroshka Author

It's ok to not have a side-project as a developer, first of all

Totally. But a side project does not have to be a programming-related project, can be anything :)

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Warner Onstine

I fall into the camp of lifelong learner. I've been doing side projects for most of my professional career. When I started out I didn't have a computer at home so I wrote out my Java GUI on legal paper and brought it into work. At the time they let me use the computer there to play with after hours.

Here are some additional tips I would add from the umpteen years I've spent doing this:

  • A specific goal in mind of why you want to build this thing
  • Once you have your goal, then I would time box it to 4 - 6 weeks. What is it that you think you can deliver in that time frame?
  • Once you've got your end goal and you have your specifics for a deliverable then you need to work on that project every single day. Not just on the weekends, not just when you think you have time, carve out at least 30 minutes a day and work on your project.
  • Document as you go. What are you learning? What is stumping you? Make sure you keep this up to date so that when you come back to your project the next day it is fresh in your mind and is easy to pick up again.
  • Run into a problem? Ask for help. Find the right forum or group and ask detailed questions about the issue you're facing. Most communities are very open and willing to help those who are learning.

Some of this I have distilled into a flowchart to help people pick a side project. Other sections are actually part of a course I teach called 30 Minute Project.

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Edwin Miguel

"Deep work" is an excellent book from Cal Newport about this topic. calnewport.com/books/deep-work/

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Dmitry Khabarov

Good article Anna! After reading this I join this community, so hello there! It seems me I on a brink of burnout last several months

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Dhiraj Ray

Found this very helpful. I had the same life before. I am sure that things will change after reading this article.

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Dionny Prensa

It only remains to say what a friend would say: The technique is useless if there is no dog.

Thanks for that big message.

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Anna Simoroshka Author

Funny, we are getting a dog this Christmas. :)

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Brittan McGinnis

Really enjoyed this article. Great advice and insight. I may have to make some changes very soon. Thank you!