How I stay productive
My two bits on how I balance my daily life.
You read the title. Let's get straight into it.
(This is not advice.)
I don't try to be productive all the time
Trying to be productive all the time is not practical. No one can be productive all the time. We aren't machines. We are subject to ups and downs in our energy levels and motivation. We all need to 'go slow' every once in a while. I don't feel bad about it. It is perfectly normal.
I like to think of life as a marathon, rather than a sprint. The slow and the steady wins the race. I like to slow down, recharge and go for it again — rather than constantly trying hard and inevitably burning out.
Timely breaks are a game-changer. When I feel like I've hit a dead-end, I take a short break and come back to the problem later. I usually come back with a completely different set of ideas & make the problem easier. The break could be a short walk (the best!), reading a book, listening to a podcast, a game of Warzone — anything!
Changing things up is the key. I need something that takes my mind away from the problem and gives it some time to relax. I am often surprised by the wonders our brains can do when we approach problems differently.
Lifestyle over 'rapid growth'
When I first started out as a developer in the industry, I used to say yes to every opportunity in my reach. Over the years, I have learnt to say no.
Sure, saying yes to every other project that comes my away would make me a lot of money — but at what cost? I used to spend my entire day working on low-quality projects. Even though I was making more money, the pleasure was short-lived. My inner self used to feel disappointed with myself. I wasn't treating myself like I knew I should. At one point, I flicked the switch.
I started only taking on projects that allowed me to grow & had a great work environment — even if that meant that I would be making a less money, at least temporarily.
In the long term, this has allowed me to make much more money. 😉 This is why I hold the opinion that too much speed is bad. When it feels like too much is happening at the same time, I slow down. I take a deep breath, re-assess and say no to some things.
I choose, and will continue to choose, lifestyle over 'rapid career growth'.
I have desired traveling the world ever since I was a kid. There is lots to do on our beautiful planet — mysterious places to visit, awesome people to meet and tasty food to enjoy!
But I come from a humble background. I have never stepped foot outside of India. I need a lot of money for that. I knew could earn a lot of money by being a good software developer. Coincidentally, I happened to fall in love with computers as a 5-year-old kid. A match made in heaven.
The dream of going to all those places I've always wanted to see is what keeps me going. I'm not quite there yet, but I will be. One day.
I utilize procrastination
Utilizing procrastination? Doesn't make a lot of sense. Let me explain.
Whenever I find myself procrastinating, I don't fight it. I use it as information. I think — 'If I really wanted to do it, I would have jumped into action already. I wouldn't wait. Nothing would stop me.' As Daniel Vassallo would say, procrastination helps me avoid things that don't give me energy. It can't tell me what I should do, but it can tell what I shouldn't do. Whenever I can afford to, I try to use this information to guide myself.
Embracing procrastination rather than fighting it has changed my life for the better.
I try to help
I am really grateful for the tech community — be it on Twitter, Hashnode, DEV or anywhere else. I am forever in debt of some folks from the community who held my hand when I was a newbie. I owe so much.
This is why I try to give back whenever I can. Most of my contributions come in the form of open source contributions & articles. How does this help me in being productive? It gives me inner peace, reduces stress. I feel proud of the person I see when I look in the mirror. This might not make any difference for some people but it impacts my life drastically. It just works.
'Happiness is only real when shared' — Christopher McCandless
Like I mentioned earlier, please do not consider this as advice. No 'advice' is ever universal. What works for me might not work for you. These are my experiences and I tried to share them from a very personal point of view.
If you found my insights interesting, consider following me on Twitter.
Cover photo by Murray Campbell.