Coding with Care
Claire Pollard Apr 21, 2017
I like to think of myself as a hard-working person, and regularly work 14 hour days in a combination of my software developer day job, helping out my fiancée with his robotics business and volunteering in the community at my local BMX club. I very rarely fully unwind and chill out. I'm the first to admit it's not healthy and burn out is a regular worry for me, and does happen a little too often for my liking.
After the first 4 months of 2017 have flown by in a blizzard of deadlines, weekend events, hospital trips, becoming a qualified cycling coach and redesigning a couple of websites for good measure, I found myself sitting in the doctors surgery not feeling so great. Thanks to my doctor running late, I came across an interesting article on the Verge combining mindfulness and coding.
Google Developer Monica Dinculescu has designed the lovely Tiny Care Terminal, using the ever wonderful Party Parrot to help deliver useful mindfulness quotes and advice to your terminal window to gently remind you to take care of yourself when coding.
At some point we're all guilty of becoming welded to our desks and peering at emacs (other editors are available) for what seems like an eternity, whilst slumping into a heap with an awkward posture, and downing that 8th cup of coffee in the vain hope that the buzz will get us that little bit closer to the Ballmer Peak (don't drink and code kids), and we'll eventually fix whatever bug has been hassling us for days.
But with Party Parrot on hand to remind you to take a breath, practice some mindfulness techniques, and give yourself a break, we can all take a little bit better care of ourselves and attempt to de-stress from those times when professional coding gets too intense. And ultimately feel better and code more effectively. While stress can be a useful thing to have at times, too much can prevent us from thinking clearly and rationally, potentially making bugs for our future selves.
The Tiny Care Terminal pulls tips from three Twitter bot accounts, caring bots @tinycarebot, @selfcare_bot and the mysterious storytelling bot @MagicRealismBot and presents them along side to do, done, and commit lists in the terminal window. You can change which bot accounts are used for advice if you prefer a different style of messages. Whilst most of us have Twitter accounts, we don't sit glued to our feeds to catch each and every tweet that's posted, so rounding up a selection of helpful caring tweets and putting them somewhere we're looking all day just gives us a reminder to look up from our screens and breathe for a second.
As I'm still sat in the doctors waiting room (she's now 50 minutes late) I haven't had chance to try the Tiny Care Terminal for real, but I'm running to Github as soon as I'm back at my desk to get it. Well not running... But sauntering and breathing deeply :)
Does anyone else have any different techniques for relaxing whilst coding? Or work routines that help limit stress? I'd love to hear them in the comments.