Work Life Balance Tips For Programmers
Forget about the technical things completely for today and let’s talk about the software engineers’ lifestyle.
If you’re a software engineer and reading this blog then take a pause and observe your daily routine for a moment. Now ask a question to yourself…
How do you spend your whole day??
How do your days look like?
How much time you spend with yourself and do some other stuff?
How much time do you give to your family, friends, and relatives?
How much time do you invest in yourself, in your hobbies, and in other activities?
The answer may vary but in general, this is how a typical day of a software engineer looks like…
You wake up, go to the office, check the mails, and you get to know that you need to fix some issues or bugs in the feature which you have implemented before in your ongoing project. You are also asked to implement some new features in your application. You do some meetings with your coworkers related to the work. Your entire day is occupied for 8 hours, maybe for 9 hours, or maybe for 10 hours or more in case if you have deadline pressure to finish off your work. You finish off your work, you come back home, do some other stuff, and sleep.
The majority of the time you spent on your computer and there is a higher chance that you’re still thinking about your code or your work even after your office is over. Especially when you’re in the early stage of your software development career.
The life of software engineers is totally different. A lot of engineers are anti-social and don’t like to interact much with people especially if someone doesn’t belong to their profession. They are just glued to their computers and spend a lot of time alone.
Of course, some folks are passionate about programming, and they are enjoying this kind of lifestyle every day. Some are doing it because of the workload and because of the company’s culture where they are supposed to work for more than 50-60 hours a week but do you realize ever that sooner you will burn out, and you will hate your work. This lifestyle is not just going to affect your health but also it will affect your personal life.
Do you know that in Google if you’re working more than 40 hours a week all the time then your team will get attention because there is something wrong with the team, and it will get corrected.
Software development is challenging and stressful, and it’s tough for developers to find a balance between their work and life especially when tight deadlines are there. Most of the developers have the same story. They need to work on lots of complicated and challenging tasks. Most of the time it happens that they get stuck in resolving some major bug in their application. They stretch themselves and spend hours in it without realizing that they are losing the track of time, and neglecting the other important personal stuff.
Being a developer you might have experienced the time when a nightmare coding project creeps into the evening or weekends, and you’re asked to complete the project within the given deadline. Developers are struggling with separating their careers from their personal lives. This blog is all about maintaining a healthy work-life balance between your career and your personal life.
Surely we will discuss some tips but remember that everyone has a different professional and personal life. So take this blog in a generalized sense. Most of the tips will make you a productive person and if you’re a productive person then you won’t face difficulty in maintaining a balance between work and personal life.
1. Prioritize Your Time
Most of the time we as an employer always think about finishing our office work first. We get up in the morning with the thought of finishing our office work immediately. After that, we want to utilize our leftover time for personal purposes. Well, dedicating our time to office work is a good thing, but sometimes it doesn’t work on a long-term basis.
We push ourselves to finish the task as much as we can, and we forget about the other things which are on priority in our personal life. This doesn’t lead to balanced work life. You only work, work, work, and you keep finishing your office work first. You think that someday you will actually live your life but this never happens. You actually put your life on hold.
You need to prioritize your time for both personal and professional life (we aren’t just talking about the work here). You need to separate your tasks into levels of importance. Don’t just do the first thing that comes to mind. Take a moment, put some thoughts into what needs to be done right now, what can be done tomorrow, what can be done next week or next month.
You can write it down somewhere and prioritize your task which you need to complete throughout the day, weeks, or month. Do this for both your personal and professional life. If a deadline is there for your professional work and a few tasks you can keep aside from your personal life then do that. The same rule is applicable if something is important in your personal life.
2. Follow a Strict Routine
You should have a routine that you follow daily. This is different for everybody. People who are in 9 to 5 job, they will have a different routine, people who are working as a freelancer or have their own business or working remotely they will have a different routine. Structure your routine according to that and follow this routine strictly.
For example, you can start your day doing something relaxing for the first hour. You can do some exercise or meditate, you can read some books, or you can go for a walk. Doing something relaxing will give you some brainpower, and you will be able to manage your time throughout the day.
Also know when you are at your best and use that time wisely. Clearly observe the time, when you’re most productive. It can be 7-8 am or 2-3 pm. During that time finish off the most difficult task that you have. For the rest of the day, you can do lighter work. If you use your most productive time wisely, you will find that you can accomplish more within less time.
3. Cut Out the Things Which is Not Important
Stop doing things that aren’t productive and that aren’t adding value to your life. Choose the hobby or choose the things that make you a better person both in your personal and professional life.
If something is relaxing for you and making you a better person or making you a productive person in your work and then don’t hesitate to spend time on that but if something is affecting your work or personal life then it’s good to cut that nonsense from your life.
The key is not to take anything too far and spend too much time on that. For different people, different things are there that serve no purpose in their life. It can be mindless web browsing or any kind of social media platform. You just need to identify it on your own.
A lot of people surf the internet during their break time and spend hours in it without realizing that they have lost the track of time. They could have spent this time with their family or with their loved ones, or doing their project related to their work. You will find a lot of free time if you cut down the things which aren’t needed, and it will surely balance out the scale.
4. Be Aware of Burnout
Programmer burnout Is huge in the industry. When you’re coding most of the time you use all your brainpower. If you’re writing the code for 10-12 hours a day then surely one day you will be losing your mind, and you will be losing your passion for coding. You won’t have the energy to have a serious conversation with your family members.
Coding 10 hours straight, not taking breaks, not spending enough time with family members, or not doing anything related to your hobbies, all these things contribute to burnout.
If you’re a newbie programmer and have not enough family responsibilities then surely you will enjoy coding a lot in the early stage of your career. You will be spending most of your time writing the code because it’s really fun for you but in the end, you will burnout.
We are not saying that you shouldn’t work hard and avoid coding. We encourage you to work hard but don’t overdo it. Make a balance and also enjoy the other things to keep your passion for coding forever and to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well.
5. Don’t be a Perfectionist
Don’t take this in the wrong way. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t work hard, and you shouldn’t be perfect in your job or coding. It’s good to be perfect but sometimes trying to be too perfect doesn’t work, and it backfires. It’s good to be perfect in your job, but sometimes we are so much focused on being too perfect, and we neglect the rest of the things which are important in our life.
Sometimes you work hard, and you become too perfect in your work but most of the time it happens that your hard work or your efforts are just visible to you, not anyone else. You’re the only one who notices it.
Don’t be a perfectionist where it’s counterproductive. We all want to write good code or clean code, and we wall want to write the optimized solution. Well, it’s great to care about doing a good job, but don’t overdo it if it’s not required or when you understand that it’s getting counterproductive. Giving your best to neglect the other important things is not good if no one else notices it. You need to identify on your own that how much is good enough to become too perfect in something.
6. Learn to Say No, If You Can’t Handle
Sometimes we get opportunities that are really hard to pass up. It can be an email from your client who offers a significant amount of money to do a large project, and it becomes hard for us to turn down the opportunity. You may say yes to complete that project but before you do that make sure that you can handle it. If you feel like you need to sacrifice a lot of time or other important things to work on that project then it’s good to say no to the client.
If you do not have enough time then taking that project may not be a good idea, but we aren’t saying here that you should say no to every project. Weigh the pros and cons if you’re taking a project. Take a look at your schedule and make sure that taking that project isn’t going to drive you crazy and aren’t affecting your personal life.
7. Enjoy Your Work to Lead an Overall Balanced Life (The Most Important Tip)
You don’t need to work hard on living a balanced work-life if you’re truly enjoying your work. If you carefully observe your life then we only strive to lead two separate lives when we are pressurized in our job or in our work. Most of the employees are dissatisfied with their job and the most common reason behind it is that they separate the work experience from their actual lives.
In our personal life sometimes we don’t need to work hard on giving the time to the things which are on priority. We eventually get the time and we finish it. What if you also consider your work as a part of your actual life? Instead of treating your work as work make it a part of your actual life and this is only possible when you are truly enjoying your work. You will eventually achieve an overall balanced life.
Remember that if you really want to achieve an overall balanced life then you need to blur the lines between your personal and professional life to make everything a part of your life.
We have mentioned seven important tips to live a balanced work life. Out of these seven points, the last one was really important. It’s important to maintain the overall quality of your life. Instead of living two different lives and finding a balance remove the distinction between work and life. Once it is removed, and you consider everything as a part of your life, you won’t have to find a balance, and you won’t have to live two separate lives.
Another thing which is important to mention here is that you should practice living in the present moment. Instead of thinking about the past and future all the time live in the present moment. The key point is that when you live in the present moment and when you enjoy everything whether it’s a work or personal life, things eventually become balanced.
We aren’t saying that you should only focus on your personal life neglecting your work. All we are saying that you should consider everything as a part of your life. When you consider everything as a part of your life, you stop looking for a balanced life, and you stop living two different lives.