Notes by Lesnitsky Subscribe

#productivity · 2020-03-26 02:15 PM Twitter Logo

How do I manage to work hard, stay motivated and not get a mental burnout

I quit my full-time office job more than 1.5 years ago. I felt like I don't have enough freedom, I wanted to do something different on and off. I'm certain that software developers are creative natures, and like artists, we need a LOT of freedom for our creativity to prosper.

So I quit. Now what?


Do something interesting specifically for you, not your employer

If you're used to something and kept doing for 4.5 years – no wonder changes will be hard. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes to argue/be friends with yourself is a tougher job than with your boss. Why bother yourself with work if you can do anything else and no one will say you a single bad word? Well, you have to pay your bills, save for retirement etc., etc. That's just a fact we should live with, but it's the worst motivation you can have. I was always trying to do what's interesting for me, money is just a nice bonus coming with results of my work. If you're truly interested in what's you're doing – your productivity, motivation, mental health, everything will be in a better position.

Prioritize and set your goals listening to yourself 

So you found something interesting to do. Maybe it's a wonderful game, inspiring start-up idea which will change the world or maybe a productivity tool which will make you as fast as the whole dev team? Awesome! For some time. Any project, no matter how awesome it is on its surface will have a lot of routine under the hood. I have tons of projects thrown away after "interesting part is done". Makes sense and perfectly aligned with the previous paragraph, right? Nobody likes routine, it needs to be done though. I'm no expert, but these "techniques" work for me:

  1. Make routine interesting: have tons of minor bugs? Take a step back and look at a bigger picture. Could these bugs be fixed if you change architecture, data structures, dependencies? Maybe you're missing some sort of utility library/project? Could these bugs be eliminated earlier in the process? Should you write a dev tool specific for your project? (yes)

  2. Switch your activities: is something you don't like to do is a high priority now? Probably you can have a day for something different – start something new or come back to something old you left in the same "I don't want to do this" manner. Don't use this hack very often – you will end up doing everything and not finishing anything

  3. Estimate your capabilities for a single day. Had a bad sleep? Feel tired or just have "don't want to do anything" mood? That's ok, I have these too. The first thing I'm doing when I come to my co-working is thinking about what I'm capable of exactly today. Do I have plans for this evening and will have to leave earlier? Maybe I can do something little, but worthy? This way I will feel satisfied at the end of the day, I had some progress. Often the hardest part of the work is get started with it. After this part is done – you just go with the flow

  4. Do things requiring a lot of mental fuel/concentration at the beginning of the day and something more "mechanic" in the evening. Don't think I should explain this further, we all had "I spent 4 hrs last evening debugging this 💩and fixed it in 20 minutes this morning".

  5. Take breaks. We're no robots, our brain is overheating sometimes and needs some cooling. Don't put your head in the freezer, just disconnect from work for 10 - 15 min, have a short walk or a chat with your friend. Don't forget to keep track of time and don't allow one of these breaks to become "I'm done with work for today". Beware of memes!

  6. Have a good rest. Productive work is not possible without it. Preferably this should be a physical activity, let your brain switch off, process the information received during the day and put it in order

While these "tips" work for me, they are not necessarily will work for everyone, listen to yourself and develop your own framework of life.