Sustainable developer

We, as professional developers, thrive to achieve perfect balance between ease of change and demands of “real world” in our code. But today I want to talk about the other side of the screen, meaning you, the developer. In this blog post I wanted to share things that help me to be happy and stay in balance. As for most of us, I had to learn these things the hard way. I hope this post will help you to avoid my mistakes.

Power of habits

Let’s start with the simple example – Imagine yourself doing a 5 kilometer walk each day to your work and back instead of driving there. On the lunch time you would order chicken noodle soup and a bowl of salad (Something healthy). Now think of the opposite – You are driving to your work each day, once in the office, you drink 3 cups of coffee. On lunch time you go and grab a burger with fries.

How do you think these routines would change you in one year or perhaps ten years? You see the picture? While the first routine ensures that you burn enough calories and maintain a healthy diet, other one may lead to problems with heart and weight. Usually bad habits sneak in our lives and we do not notice them, because they are part of our routine.

To avoid this, seek out for these little things that you can improve and try to replace them one by one. It will take time. Don’t try to change them altogether. Start off with the one that sucks most energy out of you. If you are a smoker, start with that. If you eat junk food, that’s a perfect candidate to replace with a healthier diet. Small things matter.

Recharge your batteries

We are complex machines and we need a periodic maintenance. And by maintenance I mean sleep and personal time. While we are sleeping, our brain processes and stores information gathered during the day. I noticed that if I have slept enough, I get “AHA” moments and pieces of puzzle just start to fall in their places. This does not happen if I have a sleep deprivation. Our brain also needs to focus on something other than programming. Let’s be honest. If you enjoy programming, you think about it even after “work bell rings”. What helps me to avoid that is to read some Sci-Fi, go for a run, take a walk or go to a date with my girlfriend. These activities help me to stop thinking about programming and they allow brain to do background processing.

Exercise

Personally, I enjoy running. Running allows me to burn some calories and to release endorphins. Plus it allows me to stay in good shape. Bad emotions just wash away. I am not saying that you should start running. Find what suits you. Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise per day is more then enough. It can be something as dead simple as walking to an office. I would like to point out that I feel most recharged after the most extreme exercise. Something like 8 hour orienteering race is what keeps me mentally charged for the rest of the week.

Some other useful stuff

Our work will always demand more of us. Don’t be tricked by that pressure. You can and should choose sustainability over immediate gains. Software development is like a marathon. You won’t finish if you run it in sprint tempo. While these Ideas are not mine, they work very well for me. Here are some of the influencers on this topic:

Clean Coder by Uncle Bob Martin
Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware by Andy Hunt
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Janis Miezitis

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