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How to Have Healthy Relationships as a Developer

How to Have Healthy Relationships as a Developer

by Karl McGuire on August 8, 2016 – Tutorial – 834 words

We all know that feeling.

That feeling when youre jumping around your text editor solving a difficult problem and the whole world seems to fade away. Youre not thinking about what time it is or what youre going to eat for dinner, you just get lost in the screenlost in the problem.

Ive never done hard drugs but I imagine thats exactly what they feel like.

It very easily becomes an addiction. Its one of the sneakiest addictions out there. It doesnt feel like an addiction, it just feels like being productive.

Sure, you might be getting things done, you might be getting paid a substantial amount of money to feed this addiction, but at what cost?

Your friends and family dont share this addiction. When you sit down and knock out a few hundred lines of code and finish upsatisfiedthey dont feel the same satisfaction.

As developers, it can be difficult to find that balance of work and life. Relationships are a key part of being happy, so its important we understand how to maintain and grow them.

Talk About Your Work

Lets face it, it can take a lot of effort explaining hard technical problems to the less tech-savvy.

Often times Ive found myself saying you wouldnt understand when asked what I just spent all day working on. Recently, however, Ive come to realize how much this damages relationships.

As I said above, friends and family usually dont share our love for programming and problem solving. They do love us though, thats why theyre curious in the first place.

If youre tired, not in the mood, or dont know how, at least make an attempt to talk about your work with friends and family. They appreciate the effort, and who knows, they might even have something to contribute.

Take Regular Social/Air Breaks

If you want to make the best use of your time, take breaks. Its well known that regular breaks boost productivity in the long run.

Okay, Ill take breaks, but what should I do during these breaks?

The key to effective breaks is movement:

Moving your legs is easy. Walk outside, walk your pet, walk to get some water. You could even run, but I prefer not being drenched in sweat while coding.

Moving your mouth can be tricky depending on your environment. If you can find a coworker, great, talk to them about anything. If you work at home and have no one to talk to, use your phone. Call your grandma, friend, dad, girlfriend, anyone.

Notice how I didnt say text. Phone calls are much more stimulating and thoughtful than texts, and itll help get your mind off work.

Spend Time With Them

For most developers their job is also their hobby so it can be hard to discern where professional life ends and personal life begins.

I dont know any accountants who love keeping books in their free time.

I do know quite a few developers who dont get outside much.

No amount of Slack messages or IRC chatting will ever replace human connection. Get outside with your friends, do crazy things, make mistakes, travel.

Our brains automatically group similar memories together in order to save space. As developers, years can feel like weeks if we dont actively pursue different experiences.

(No, changing your Vim colorscheme doesnt count as a different experience.)

Do you want to look back on the past 10 years and remember nothing more than the same routine you do every day?

That thought alone terrifies me.

Dont Wait to Make It Big

Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit has probably had a thought process similar to this (I know I have):

Ill just work 18 hour days until my SaaS takes off, then I can take it easy and spend time with friends and family.

Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether it be a side project or main project, understand that sacrificing relationships isnt worth it.

Sure, you can always make new friends after making it big. But youll never be sure of their true intentions. Your old friends, the ones you had when your big idea was just an idea, the ones who enjoyed being around you for your personality (not your money) will make an effort to keep up with you.

Dont make the mistake of ignoring their effort. Be flexible. Arrange times on the weekend to spend time with them. Figure something out.

Everyone wants to be successful, but if you lose friends and family in the process, whats the point?

Its never too late to start implementing these guidelines into your daily life. Dont put it off until youre left friendless and with a family who barely knows you.

You dont have to start with all of these tipsjust pick one or two. Gradually implement them and watch your relationships grow.

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or concerns.

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