How Not To Let Overtime Affect Your Performance

Recently, I read a book titled The best software writing I by Joel Spolsky. This book presents some of the best writings about software from around the internet through the eyes of Joel Spolsky. One chapter, specifically, refers to the negative consequences of overworking. You can read the original article here EA-Spouse. From the very first of sentence I thought that it was so interesting that I couldn’t treat the book lightly.

When I found my first job as a programmer, I used to work 14 to 16 hours every day for the first 4 months. Afterwards, I reduced the hours a little bit, but I carried on working about 10 hours every day. I got at a very good level rather fast and I could build a web-site either using a CMS or building the whole project from scratch. I was trying to read as many books and articles about programming as possible , so as to improve my skills in writing code in a better quality. Unfortunately, by doing so, I saw my performance decreasing more and more

The drawbacks in this case were the following:

  1. I didn’t have a mentor, someone who could lead me to a more efficient way of working. It’s not necessarily bad but sometimes it’s grinding to reinvent the wheel.
  2. It’s good to devote as much time as you can in a field that you love, but if you don’t have an aim, a plan or even a schedule, you are wasting your time. I was reading everything and anything on programming and every article took me to another and sometimes I was getting derailed.

Even though researching absolutely everything is sometimes useful, if you want to have an improvement in this way, you are just wasting your time.

What I have learnt the last few months is that everything that you deal with you have to have consistency and to practice every day irrespective of time. It doesn’t matter how much time you can invest every day in something. What matters is a systematic occupation with it. You mustn’t lose even a day. These every day habits help us to improve our skills taking a step forward to come closer to our goal. It is true that if you deal with it many more hours every day you will get there faster but there is not really need to dismiss your aim in case you can’t put in all these hours. For instance, you may deal with it solely 25 minutes every day so as to improve your skills in programming, but you have to keep a consistency doing that every single day. Essentially the only difference is that your journey is going to take more time. So what? That is not bad at all.

One way to achieve this goal is to track your time and learn the value of it. You may think that only 25 minutes every day devoted in a single task is not enough, but you are going to be amazed how effective it is. You are going to be a step closer to your goal. As I said it’s not bad at all if your journey takes longer. When you get there, you will be full of the sense of completeness and pleasure that you achieved one more goal. This is exactly the feeling that will help you to pursue the next target and improving your assets.

[quote name=””]What you will accomplish tomorrow, you owe it to what you do.[/quote]

[section_title align=”center” text=”How to deal with it”]

The concentration span of the human brain is limited to a short amount of time. There are many surveys on this with various conclusions. The only thing that is clear is that concentration depends on how important a task is for you and the type of task (reading, working, auditing etc).

There are applications and techniques which can help you to increase your concentration. For instance, you can use pomodoro. This is such a simple technique, but it works. You have to push yourself to stay concentrate on the work you have for 25 minutes and after that you take on a break for 5 minutes. The same again and again. One cycle is one pomodoro. It is really valuable to devote at least one pomodoro every single day on something important for you, on something that you want to be better at. Think that, with only 25 minutes in a day you will have 175 minutes in a week, in a task you wouldn’t execute at all. And that’s because you think that you have to devote a big part of your day in a single task. Give it a try. It is not just a few minutes, it is just a step closer to your goal.

Basically, you just use your mental time as efficient as you can and afterwards you give your brain a little time to refresh so as to get back into work with momentum. You can find a bounty of articles doing a search in google for pomodoros, for managing your time efficiently. A book that I read with many references to all these with good advice is Soft Skills by John Sonmez.

You may use an application to track how long you spend in every creative project, in every habit. You will find many applications doing a simple search on google, you can read what my friend Geodoo uses as well.

[section_title align=”center” text=”The impact on me”]

The last 2 years I felt tired and I couldn’t improve my knowledge on programming as I used to. The main reason was that I didn’t have consistency. I didn’t motivate myself to start a course because I thought that it was going to take too much time. I didn’t actuate myself to set goals because I thought that it was grinding. I couldn’t control my hobbies as well. I have so many hobbies and I couldn’t set a schedule to improve each one accordingly.

Since I started managing my time better, the improvement was huge. I have engaged in creative habits, when before I had none and I have been able to have them in order. Doing every day at least one pomodoro in every single habit is so helpful that I have learned 3 times more than I used to.

Also it’s true that I can improve my performance more because I have yet to find the best schedule that fits me perfectly. Keeping consistency and playing around various techniques helps you to increase your payoff.

As Art Kohn said here

[quote name=””]We need to find ways to continue to improve our instructional techniques.[/quote]

[section_title align=”center” text=”Conclusion”]

If you wish to help yourself you have to stop being disoriented, turning your hobbies into habits. Learning and improvement are things that need consistency and practice. You shouldn’t stop trying if you have a failure. You need to keep your mind open learning from these failures and your experiences will lead you a step closer to your goal.

3 thoughts on “How Not To Let Overtime Affect Your Performance

  1. Dear Lefteris,

    I want to congratulate you on making your brand new, super cool-looking blog! I sincerely wish you the best! You surely deserve it! You are one the few developers I know in this world with such a passion for programming and self improvement! Way to go and good luck!


    1. Hi GEODOO,

      I greatly appreciate your kind words. I hope your dreams come true as well.
      It’s my pleasure to have you around.


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