Finding Balance as a Programmer

Grinding to become a career front end developer — or any sort of programmer for that matter — can be a wholly overwhelming experience. Given the bevy of suggested languages, frameworks, and tools to tackle, information overload is inevitable. While always well-intentioned, all the advice can be damaging at times. I’ve had many days where don’t know where to begin, so I procrastinate — knowing what to hone in on each week, especially given my full-time work schedule, is enough to make my head explode.

What I’ve learned along the way is to focus on one thing at a time, to not get distracted worrying about everything else. Maybe I’ll read a blog post or two, or speak to a mentor/peer. Once they point me in the direction of a single concept to pursue, I make sure not to get lost in additional reading.

While it can be stimulating to digest new info, it makes for an an easy excuse to procrastinate the most important part of the process — coding itself. I’ve made sure to clone a series of practice modules for computer science fundamentals — that way I’m always keeping my rudimentary skills sharp. Without those, tackling more complex tasks is futile.

What’s equally important is knowing when to stop. Once I start coding, I have a tendency to sit in the same spot for hours on end, face glued to the screen, keys clacking away. I forget to eat and stay hydrated, only taking breaks to answer nature’s call or suck down a cigarette. Though my obsessive nature can come in handy at times, it’s also a recipe for burnout. I’ve learned to create boundaries for myself in order to ensure I make time for proper nutrition, exercise, hobbies and, most importantly, my girlfriend and two cats.

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