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WORK HARD, BUT NOT TOO HARD
You have to work hard to become a developer. Even harder to grow, change jobs, or get promoted. But to work hard in the long term, you have to take time to rest and decompress.
Having a balance is essential to being a great developer. Your personal and professional life has different priorities, and you need to find a good combination of both of them.
You’re in it for the long term. Maintaining a healthy relationship with your work is not a choice; it’s a necessity to avoid burnout, depression and more.
Some people can code all the time; they love it and don’t burn out. But most of us are not like that; we need that real-life™ to be fulfilled and to grow.
And also, the better you are at what you do, the more efficient you can be. That means less repetitive work and the balance being able to shift more towards the "life" spectrum.
Work, learning, personal life. At different points of your career and life, you’ll have other priorities, needs, and capabilities. Your job is to prioritize these three areas of your life so you achieve the most.
You have to decide where you are now and what your priorities should be at the moment. But let me help you to approach your time more mindfully
You can either go straight towards your goal or choose a longer path full of distractions and things that don't contribute much to the experience. Your choice!
quality over quantity. No ma"er how you want to use your time at the current stage of your life, make that time count. Work hard, try automating, and delegating everything not essential. Learn smart, don’t rewatch these same tutorials again and again.
And when you rest, do it properly, don’t just scroll Facebook or watch Netflix; give yourself a chance to rejuvenate.
Try automating or delegating all the non-essentials
WORK HARDER, NOT LONGER
You have to know your limits. Most of us can’t work 60 or 80 hours a week for prolonged periods.
I know there are times when you don’t have a choice. You’ve got the release of a significant project, and your team counts on you. Your manager asks you to finish some critical features on the weekend. The crucial website crashed in the middle of the night. These are valid reasons to work overtime.
Working overtime before the release is so popular it has its name - crunching. It’s hard to decline when you’re asked to stay overtime because the product’s or whole company's success may depend on the project.
It’s okay if crunching happens from time to time - sometimes life is hard, and you have to grit your teeth. But if crunching becomes the norm, you’ve to talk with your manager or even consider changing a job.
In reality, working overtime is rarely beneficial. It’s detrimental to your ability to focus and do your best, and it also negatively affects your company. Overworked developers ship worse code. Worse code leads to even more work with bug fixing. And quick bug fixing leads to even worse code. That’s a vicious circle and good companies need to break it.
The benefits of putting in more hours decrease over time. Whenever possible you should work only up to 40 hours. And work hard - be focused, and don’t overuse social media. Do your job to the best of your abilities.
If you give your employer honest 30-40 hours a week, you’ll be one of the best developers around. Expecting more of you is unreasonable and unrealistic. A healthy and rested programmer is the best asset for any company.
MAKE YOUR WORK BETTER
So you work eight hours a day and can’t wait to get out of the office? And the "first thing you think about on Monday is a Friday evening when you can get out and live your life? Are you really going to do that for the next few decades? I don’t think it’s a great way to live your life.
Many people don’t have a choice. They live in poor countries or are stuck in simple jobs without a real opportunity to live their lives differently. But you as a developer can do so much more. You can change your career, build your app, start a company, or become a freelancer. So don’t allow yourself to live a miserable life from weekend to weekend.
The divide between a job and life is tempting. You work to earn money for your life. But the truth is, that work takes a considerable part of your life. They're not separate - one is a part of the other. You can and should make it more enjoyable. Stop treating work as a struggle; look for opportunities to make that time count and to make it fun.
Maybe you can ask your manager to work on more challenging projects?
Or you’d instead work some time remotely to avoid the commute. You can make your working environment more pleasant, but you need to ask.
Your main goal is to change the way you think about work. Try making it not the “bad part” of your life but the essential part of it. If it means changing a team or a job, think about doing it. In the long run, work that’s not meaningful to you will become exhausting. Look for new challenges and opportunities to help others. Make your work count.
YOUR TIME IS THE MOST IMPORTANT
You matter. Forget your projects, colleagues, commitments. These are essential, but you can fulfill your obligations only if you take proper care of yourself. That’s why you need to make yourself a priority.
It may sound harsh and selfish - you may feel like a bad person. But it’s not. You have to be on your best and grow to provide value for those around you.
So make time for you. Work out, read, sleep, and learn. Being in good physical and mental health is your greatest asset. All of these are important!
Many times you’ll be tempted to stay at work late. To learn a new language for a few hours after a hard day at work. Hold back. Don’t let your ambition get in the way of fulfilling your long-term goals. Tomorrow will be the next day when you need to be the best version of yourself. If you pull an unnecessary all-nighter, all you’ll achieve is a bad next day. Or even a week. So prioritize well-being and promising effects in the long run over short-lived success.
You’re in this for life. Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint
HOW TO SOLVE CHALLENGING PROBLEMS
Did I convince you? Do you believe a massive part of your success as a developer is a rest? If not, think about the last time you’ve solved a difficult problem. Often you spend hours or even days trying to crack the issue, just to discover that’s impossible. And when you’re ready to give up and go for a walk or read a book, the solution suddenly pops to your mind.
Why is that? It’s because we have two modes of thinking - focused and diffuse. When you are trying hard to solve a problem, you’re in the focused mode. That’s good. It’s the logical mode, used for analytical thinking. But it has some limitations - it’s only great for the issue at hand. And some problems require creativity, not logic only. And for those, we need diffuse thinking.
Diffuse thinking is less structured, more focused on the big picture, and different concepts. It lets you create unexpected connections between subjects. Most of the diffuse reflection happens when you stop doing real work. Because in reality, your mind is still partly occupied with the problem you were analyzing. That’s why great ideas come to us when we’re taking a shower or jogging. In other words, creativity happens when you’re resting.
To work to the best of your ability, you need to switch between focused and diffuse thinking modes. The best way to achieve it is to work hard, with a full focus. And then let go, rest, and have some fun. That will make your life more complete and your work better.
Try to use both the focused and diffuse modes of thinking to tackle difficult problems.