On the importance of rest

July 3, 2014

##You are not a machine!

You need rest; you need to recharge and you need to time for yourself!

Why?

If you want to remain at your peak and achieve efficiency, you need to rest. You need to respect your body and keep your sanity. I once heard a story about a developer that would work crazy hours; the guy was amazing he would churn out software at a phenomenal rate. Then one day he lost it, he lost it bad. This poor guy was unhealthy physically and mentally.

Earlier in my career this was my strategy too. I would sometimes pull all-nighters, be a hero but I quickly learned that doing so on the regular would be catastrophic. I saw the effects on my mood and my health so I quickly started to cut back.

I knew I needed to do something different.

How?

The first thing I done was to start focusing more on delivering between 8am and 6pm. Yes, I would be still be working more than required but at least I would be in bed before 3am. To achieve this, I use the Pomodoro technique, some days I use work sessions where I will block off an hour and concentrate on that, and I make heavy use of a pen and paper. Second I started eating better, less junk food. Third I started exercising.

Obviously during this time I sometimes regressed but the important thing is just to get back into the routine and keep going.

Also importantly I now try to turn off when I get home, I try my utmost not to do any work from home. Sometimes I need to, and that comes with the territory but again it’s not till the early hours of the morning. On Sundays I will literally not read my email, read news, read any non-fiction, play catchup on any work or even talk about work. I have no issue working 6 days a week, but I need 1 day a week to recharge and work at my optimal level.

Conclusion

Being a programmer its difficult to switch off and stop but you need to. I would suggest making better use of your 9-5 time, use something like the Pomodoro technique or work sessions. Use materials and tools that scale focus on the important things. Your brain needs to turn off, and your body needs time off. You need just to stop sometimes and think about you.


Discussion, links, and tweets

My name is Deon Heyns and I am a developer learning things and documenting them in realtime. Python, Ruby, Scala, .NET, and Groovy are all languages I have written code in. I appeared in the New York Post once. I host my code up at GitHub and Bitbucket so have a look at my code, fork it and send those pull requests.

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