I enjoy waking up before everyone else does, even though it’s hard to get out of a cozy af bed.

Chances are that my day would flow better if I get an early start to it but being a dev often means late nights. Sometimes that brick wall leads to all nighters with great code, good enough code, and meh code. How do we strike a balance here?

I’m sure by now most of my readers are familiar with the constant nag of ‘Get more sleep’, how exactly? We can’t really quit our jobs, make a lifelong vow to the lords of the couch to be one with a potato, and let our beneficiaries starve? (cough, I mean family – reallllly)

The problem I have with this sincere request is that it’s unrealistic in IT and in particular development. The odds are stacked against us if we work from home. We don’t get to switch off or turn our backs on the possible conundrum of a shitstorm that often looms it’s disgusting head during long work hours and stringent deadlines. I often found a consensus that deadlines become more and more stringent because of the need for a break from the chaos which ultimately leads to putting it off to the last moment.

There is an erroneous belief that a love and passion for coding == a love and passion for client work. And while you can be passionate about something, in general, it shouldn’t render you a fatigued, stressed-out, depressed, high strung, and disrespected being.

I am harping on and on about the problem.. please hang in there… *hangs a coffee IV* … there you go buddy…

The unspoken (or not nearly  spoken about enough) view is that if we say we’re human it comes with a monetary / career loss. If we admit to needing a break, we are liabilities.

Here’s what I do and endeavor to do cause science knows I fall off the damn ‘I manage my schedule like a boss’ wagon a shit-ton of times.

 

Make a list of what you need every month to be all zen and stuff

Rent, food, utilities, pizza (look it deserves it’s own damn category), a small stipend for broken crap that always chooses to break in the middle of coding etc.

Stick to this budget.

Make sure that each project leads to savings or contributes towards your savings goals.

Be comprehensive, you don’t want to be caught off-guard with the added financial stress.

Ensure that you’re not overbooking and give yourself a 20-30% time leeway on EVERY project before you send a quote.

Note that I said time and not rate, but you should be priced to be comfortable.

Price yourself correctly and add terms and conditions that make sense for you

Make sure you protect your time so that if things go south, your agreements should be iron clad. Try to be transparent, be open to offering unfinished work in exchange for monetary returns or more leeway to see things through.

Focus on preparing for your project.

Do your initial research, map things out, start a project board, write a technical spec document if one hasn’t been handled already. Plan for hurdles, if any.

Communicate

I know it may suck to communicate to someone who doesn’t understand the difference between a server and a toothpick but work on this skill daily.. the return is huge and you may actually find that people are more likely to give you the space to let your code shine if they think you gave a shit about other humans. In an ideal world we would adore every project and have great relationships with clients but it’s not an ideal world. . you’re bound to have some douchebags in the mix so mastering the art of communication is the key to not losing your sanity and ultimately avoiding the whole ‘I’ve become a vegan, hippie, who gains sustenance from the sun, the earth is flat, and someone fried my brain’ thing.

Have a side piece

You read right, have a passion project on the side. Don’t burn out, re-ignite your love for development by working on a sensual, steamy line of code when you start banging your head against a wall on your client’s work. Remove yourself from the stress and place yourself at the helm of the – fine I’ll stop. You get it – work on something you love to get through the hump.

If you’re someone who can stand the light of our star – take a breath outside, do something with your hands (like gardening damn it), and create these positive associations in your mind. Chances are, you’ll come up with a ton of code-related ideas too.

 

Level up by learning something new that keeps you going. Establish a routine that works for you, trust me, you’ll be more productive and happy if you have balance. Automate everything you can. Try Clickup, try Stripe, and find ways to engage that don’t siphon a ton of time.

I hope my ramblings have helped you.

– DecodedNerd