It is not uncommon in the field of programming that people get exhausted and lose passion for their work. Just look at all these questions that come up and the number of votes they get:
- Am I too young to be tired?
- How to avoid programmer fatigue?
- Developer fatigue: a disease of the industry?
These articles serve as proof that fatigue is real and common in the IT industry. When dealing with fatigue, I would like to explore this issue deeper and help others deal with this problem, or even prevent it in the first place.
Why is this happening
Fatigue seems to occur more frequently among programmers than specialists in other fields. I don’t have a definite answer as to why this is happening, but I suspect there are four main reasons.
- The first reason is physical. Sitting at a table, in front of a computer every day is not very good for your health, leaving you in a sluggish state. Lethargy can also lead to other bad habits: improper diet during the day, the use of energy drinks, sitting up late, etc. All this can lead to irritability.
- The second reason includes the fact that programming is stressful work, involving high mental alertness, which can lead to mental fatigue.
- The third reason you are tired is that your work is sucking the soul out of you and not rewarding you enough. The only way out is to take a vacation and find a business that you like, without relying on money.
- The fourth reason was not invented by me, but found in the comments of Hacker News, while studying this topic. One guy accurately described that “Fatigue occurs when you constantly sacrifice a lot and participate in very risky projects that fail. This is the result of a negative prediction error in the nucleus accumbens. You are effectively directing your brain to work with failure. ” This sounds pretty plausible. Not a single day goes by without failures when designing software.
I’ve dealt with fatigue myself a couple of times. None of these cases made me quit programming, even for a month, but at least it made me doubt if I had chosen the right profession. Since then, I’ve become more strategic in how I work in order to stay motivated and productive for a long time. In this article, I will describe the habits I have learned and the techniques that I find effective in postponing or even eliminating fatigue at all costs.
Tips for programmers
- Eat right. Don’t think you have to be vegan to feel good. Start with small steps, replacing soda with water; include slow carbohydrates and vegetables in your diet; eat regularly and do not overeat. These basics will help you last longer.
- Sleep well. This includes quality, long-lasting sleep. There are many things that can help you create better sleep conditions and wake up refreshed. Another tip for programmers regarding sleep is to reduce your exposure to blue, which can prevent you from falling asleep at night. This can be done using Flux, which smoothly changes the color profile of the monitor, depending on the current time.
- Don’t overexert yourself. It has been proven time and again that productivity drops dramatically after 4 hours of focused work. It is impossible to stay productive in constantly intense mental work, such as programming, for long periods of time, with many hours of work each day.
Use the tomato technique while working. This is a fairly simple yet effective technique that will help you stay productive while taking breaks between tasks. The tomato technique breaks down tasks into 30 minute chunks (25 minutes work, 5 minutes break). It works best when there is a specific task for each Pomodoro. Ideally, breaks should be away from the computer. A brisk walk, a few push-ups, or doing something healthy will be the best option. It is also best to take a longer, perhaps 30 minute break between three Pomodoros.
- Be active, keep moving. I mean, exercise, but many people have the misconception about this, thinking that exercise should include going to the gym, etc. In reality, being active means choosing stairs instead of an escalator, parking in the farthest corner of a mall, cycling to work, and looking for other ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine so you don’t feel like you’ve been sitting in front of your computer all day.
There is no one hundred percent cure for fatigue, as we are all different. However, all of the above tips have worked for me, and I hope they will help you too. True, this list of tips is a bit long, and it will take time to develop new habits. But at the same time eating healthy, sleeping well, exercising, and taking care of yourself will help you feel better, perform better, and retain the love of programming you once lost, it all comes down to the basics for most programmers.