marcin piczkowski
Jun 18, 2017 · 4 min read

Confessions of young father programmer

This is a first blog entry at medium originally posted at http://piczkowski.blogspot.com after a long absence.

A lot of stuff was happening recently. Let me explain a bit why it was difficult to force myself to write.

Mostly, this is due to my son who was born in June 2016.

Before my son was born I heard from many other young fathers that this will completely turn my life upside down and I have to admit — nothing is as it used to be any more, but that’s completely fine. Having a child is as much rewarding as exhausting sometimes :)

Anyway, I’m trying to get myself together and keep up with all the new techs that came to my ear since then but I did not have time to learn more, such as non-blocking, async servers ( e.g. ratpack), JavaRX, JavaScript frameworks (like React), Big Data ( Spark, Flink, Flume, .. do we have any more “F”-like fancy names here?) and Spring ecosystem (Spring Boot and latest Spring 4 new features).

This is an instant fight with self-discipline, planning and.. changing plans when all depends on our “Little Chief”.

I know if I wanted to do them all I would do none, so I just thought to concentrate on a single thing first. Just by chance I heard about a contest called “Get Noticed!” (explanation in Polish: http://devstyle.pl/daj-sie-poznac/).

The rule is simple. Each participant has to blog at least twice a week during 3 moths. Every week at least one post should be about the progress in open source project which author should contribute to on Github.

I decided to give it a try and started a brand new blog: https://cloudly.tech where I’m going to write about Cloud related topics and describe my pet project — Servelerless Reservation System. It took me about 1 month to write on time, then other activities took all my spare time and I could not keep the blog going on.

As I am working from home for over 1.5 year already, it is sometimes hard to sit down and concentrate when all the attention is dragged by a baby screaming in the second room or my wife dragged to tears by him and seeking help from me. What makes it even worse is the kind of remote work I do which is very demanding (in CrossOver with a very special model of work, more about it in separate blogpost)

The new remote job is also another reason of why I can hardly find some spare time off-work to write anything.

In addition other non-programming projects has taken all my free time. That’s it, enough of excuses :)

I wonder how other young fathers programmers went through this first period and keep on going, self-organize and stay productive.

I’m working on the best model now. When I find the silver bullet I will definitely write about it. Hopefully it would help other fathers like me.

I would also read with pleasure experiences and tips from others.

So far I came into the following things that seem to work, but I have problems to turn them into habits:

1. Get up at 6–7 am yet before the kid gets up and starts “catching in the rye”. My kid usually wakes up around 9–10. That gives me 2–3h of undisturbed working. After that we usually play and go for a walk until 12.00 and then eat lunch.

2. Listen to podcasts

When we walk I usually listen to some podcasts on my mobile when my boy usually takes a nap, the same when I run.

3. I get back to work at about 1pm (after lunch) or sometimes I run before lunch, then eat a bit later and get back to work at about 2–3pm

4. I try to split my 40h work into 6h * 6 + 4h. It means I have to work on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, but I noticed that working over 8h a day influences my motivation and clear thinking very much.

* 8h means real hours of work, no coffee, chats, lunch, playing ping-pong, etc.

5. Do sport

As I already mentioned, I run 5–6km twice a week + 1h swimming once a week.

Spreading it every second day in a week looks like a good proportion to cure myself from back and arm pains. It may be first symptoms of RSI but I need to find time to visit a doctor finally to look at it.

I found keeping to this plan very important. I used to have weeks without any move at all, but this only resulted in bad mood, nervousness, pains in body, deprived sleep.

6. Sleep

At least 6–7h of sleep is a minimum to sustain for me. Without it I’m depressed, slow-thinking and physically exhausted.

I’ve noticed that it is important to go to sleep and get up in regular hours.

Before I was a night owl. Recently I have an impression that I’m more productive if I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

However, I will repeat again, this plan is extremely hard to make it a habit so far. Sometimes it’s enough to stay overnight on an important task to ruin whole week plan.

If I stay late, I cannot wake up early, then I start work later and stay late again (because there are always so many urgent tasks to complete that day) and go to bad late again.. and the circle goes on.

I know everyone has own tricks to stay productive and keep the right work-life balance. Please share yours in comments if you like.

Marcin Piczkowski

About software engineering, programming, cloud technologies

marcin piczkowski

Written by

modern tech. enthusiast, father, born explorer ;)

Marcin Piczkowski

About software engineering, programming, cloud technologies

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