What are bad habits?

A bad habit is a habitual behavior considered to be detrimental to one's physical or mental health and often linked to a lack of self-control.

I am still fairly new to this field. I started coding in 2013 in College and have been coding professionally for the last 3 years. Just like any profession, it comes with a bunch of nasty habits that develop over the years. Just like any desk job, programmers must make an effort to prevent these.

Not going outside during breaks.

It's always a funny joke to say to people that you don't go outside ever. Maybe it's funny because it's partially true.

One of the biggest things that contributed to my burnout was a lack of sun. For context, I am self-employed so I can make up my own hours and didn't have an excuse to not go outside but I always stayed inside and worked my life away. There is lots of reasons why this behaviour is bad for your physical and mental health. Some of them being:

  • Fatigue
  • Constant feeling of being ill
  • Depression

How to fix this

It's not easy to fix some issues. Sometimes you have to work all day and that's ok. For me, I was required to always be on a computer to get my job done efficiently. On my breaks, instead of getting a colleague or brewing my own coffee, I walk to my local coffee shop or McDonalds and get one there. That way I am taking a break, getting some small excersize and getting sunlight.

Not getting excersize.

I know, I know. You are probably thinking about why you shouldn't be a giant muscle man because you don't care about it. I agree, I'm not a sexy muscle fueled developer myself. I can say that working out has extremely benefited my career and my life. It's hard to start working out. Especially if you are new to it. Developers have long days and use lots of mental brainpower that it is often exhausting just to think about doing a workout afterwards. With the hours of sitting down and lack of movement, it's really tough on the body.

How to fix this

Just like the previous section, taking small walks in between breaks is a great way to get started. Once you do that and improve your diet, you can go to the gym and you will see amazing improvements. For me, this was huge because it allowed me to find another hobby outside of programming. Sometimes you won't have time to go to the gym, but find ways you can get excersize in. You're body and mind will thank you.

Only having programming as a hobby.

I love to develop. There is a massive ecosystem of programmers and packages so it makes sense why somebody will want to do it all day. That being said, if this is your approach, than it's a slippery slope. I can't blame developers for this. Our jobs are constantly coming out with new things and we need to stay on top of it all so if we don't have programming as a hobby, we fall behind. This gets really bad because after long days or weeks, we start to resent the fact that we will have to code. Even so much as starting to hate it at your job.

How to fix this

Stop coding at home when you can. I've reserved all my work code for work and anything else that I love to do I put it on my computer at home. Not only this, but experiment with other things. Laura Medalia is a serious advocate on being a programmer with multiple interests (in her case it's fashion). I couldn't agree more. Ever since I have been trying multiple things out, I have been improving my work ethic and liking to program more.

Staying too comfortable

There becomes a point in a developers life where you are constantly working with the same framework/language/etc and you start to go downwards in terms of learning new things. There's a couple of reasons for this. This usually happens when:

  • You or your employer doesn't require you to learn anything new (legacy projects)
  • You are more focued on hitting extreme deadlines
  • Don't have a desire to keep pushing yourself

It's a tough industry that requires you to constantly keep learning, even if you aren't sure that's where you want to go. Staying too comfortable can cause you to become more lazy or even less qualified in the future.

How to fix this.

Maintain a balance. The idea of becoming really proficient in a language or framework is extremely valuable. With the addition of new standards for computers/languages/web, if you fall behind than you risk your job. Take some time to expirement with new technologies on whatever you are working with. Even if it is minor. Remember, you are a problem solver, if you don't know everything, that's ok.

Not having a clear direction.

This one is very common with newcomers. With the saturated ecosystem of frameworks, languages, concepts, etc... It's hard to keep up and it overwhelms you when you want to get started. Often times this causes you to have an existential crisis in your abilities to perform tasks or even questions your progress down a certain route. Developers often spread themselves out too thin, meaning they know the basics of so many different options but don't know one specific one too well. This is problematic.

How to fix this.

Pick something and stick to it for a while. Chances are you can do it with what tool you are using. Of course, this isn't to discourage learning new things, but first ask yourself if you are learning because you are lost or learning because it's the next step towards your journey.

Closing Words

Devs have lots of issues. Sadly, there isn't an issue tracker to show how we can solve all of our probelms but we can always be here for each other.

What are some other issues you deal with while being a Developer? Let me know in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter.