How Developers Can Reduce Stress
Reduce the stress and decompress with these three guidelines to help simplify your life as a software developer and as a person.
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A developer’s life isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Movies like “The Social Network” and “The Internship” have skewed the public perception of a software engineer’s life to make it seem like it’s full of constant action. On the other hand, a show like “Silicon Valley” offers an arguably more realistic portrayal, yet it’s still infused with a fair amount of exaggeration to keep the audience entertained.
In reality, a developer’s life is full of hard work, long hours, and difficult choices. Managers demand more results, while clients ask for specifications that are sometimes way too complex to complete in the allotted amount of time. In addition, you as a developer likely want to learn new skills, try out innovative APIs, and simply improve your approach to web development. However, you just don’t have the time to pursue all of these interests.
If you constantly find yourself putting in long hours to complete mundane tasks, spending weekends dealing with verbose documentation and looking for ways to reduce stress, there’s still hope. In fact, here are some actionable methods to declutter your life and establish a better approach to your daily routine.
Set Priorities and Deadlines
Many people try to cram as much as they can in their daily schedule, calling it “multitasking.” The truth is that only 2 percent of people are capable of multitasking efficiently. The other 98 percent simply attempt to do multiple tasks at once, which results in more stress.
You have to prioritize. First, decide which tasks are essential and which ones can be completed at a later date. Then make a list and approximate the time each item requires. Don’t forget to take greater ownership of your schedule by prioritizing responsibilities others may have planned for you. For example, meetings, especially impromptu ones, can easily sidetrack you. Try to avoid scheduling them between your tasks, since it always takes some time to get back in the groove after you’ve been pulled away from your work.
Also, don’t forget to set realistic deadlines. You want to make sure you’re maximizing your productivity without jeopardizing the quality of your work or the stability of your mental and physical health. Plan your schedule ahead, use the resources at your disposal and don’t be afraid to reach out to your colleagues for help. This will allow you to get on the path to achieving that coveted work-life balance.
Improve Decision Making
You’ve probably heard of decision fatigue, or worse — paralysis by analysis. Many people struggle with overthinking, which adds to stress and results in eventual burnout that prevents effective decision making and again leads back to overthinking. This is true especially with software engineers, who have to maintain close attention to detail and make critical choices at every step of the development process. So how can you avoid getting caught in this vicious cycle of indecision?
Sometimes you have to tell yourself to just do it. Are you going around in circles trying to develop a game plan or decide whether a certain solution is worth implementing? Work on a demo! Spend a short period of time making your vision a reality, so at least you have something tangible to consider. The worst thing that can happen is the reality wasn’t what you envisioned. At that point, you’re bound to have at least a few takeaways from the demo building process, which can help you develop a new vision into a better reality.
Another approach that developers can take is to simply reduce the number of choices available. If a certain path doesn’t seem viable from the start, don’t waste your time considering it. Reduce your options, make a short list and just do it.
Disagreements happen, yet, as poet John Lydgate once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Developers identify with this statement.
If you collaborate with many opinionated coworkers, tread carefully and always pick your battles. There’s no shame in compromising or letting someone else have their way on occasion if it helps preserve your peace of mind. If these arguments occur more often than normal and things start to get out of hand, consider getting someone to mediate the discussion. A civil exchange supported by constructive criticism can go a long way.
Even if you work independently, you can’t escape the stress of disagreements completely. Many people, including your clients, likely don’t understand as much as you do about your work, so they frequently underestimate the amount of time and effort that goes into it. Communicate with them early and often to make sure you agree on realistic expectations regarding the final product and the project’s timing.
Implementing these recommendations will lead to a better routine that’ll let you enjoy greater satisfaction with your work and life.
Published at DZone with permission of Andrey Bobrovskiy. See the original article here.
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