The Developer’s Guide to Work-Life Balance

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If you’re a developer, every so often you’ll find yourself staring down the barrel of crunch time. At those moments, you’ll have no choice but to boil up several pots of coffee (or break open the latest crate of energy drinks), message your loved ones that you’ll be home sometime next month, duct-tape yourself to your desk chair, and grind away until the app or game or platform is launched… or at least won’t collapse the second anyone clicks on anything.

Even outside of those moments of insanity, however, many developers ignore the need for work-life balance. It’s a lost cause, they argue. I’m too busy trying to change the world, or at least make some money—and besides, stress is a motivator, right? Right?

Wrong. Think of it this way: Maintaining a solid work-life balance will give you the added energy needed to tackle your (long) list of tasks more effectively, translating into long-term career gains. Here are some ways to help achieve that balance:

Remove What Doesn’t Matter

Easier said than done, of course—when you’re in the thick of it, everything seems to matter. Sit down and make a list of what’s essential, from a professional perspective; downgrade everything that doesn’t actively contribute to those goals. No, you don’t need to answer all those emails in your box.

Outsource Tasks

There are a lot of apps on the market designed to streamline your schedule and outsource your errands and other daily aggravations. You might even be building one of these apps yourself. Use them to free up as much time as possible.

Exercise

You wouldn’t believe how reserving a couple hours a week to run or go to the gym can give you the mental balance you need to keep going.

Schedule Downtime… and Don’t Skip

Block off chunks of time per week when you’re doing absolutely nothing. Don’t break these blocks for anything. Use said blocks to rest your brain.

In a 2014 survey by Glassdoor, respondents actually cited a number of tech positions as offering an exemplary work-life balance, including data scientist, SEO specialist, game designer, and social media manager. So take heart—despite the tech industry’s reputation as a burnout factory, there are a number of jobs that (at least in theory) will allow you to maintain a real life.

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