Here are some habits that are more or less easy to build and that will definitely benefit your life – and this not only works for programmers.
Drink more water
There are lots of scientific reasons why you should drink more water. I’m sure you already heard a great part of them. Water helps your kidneys, it energizes your muscles, your skin might look better, heck, you might even lose weight when you drink more. That’s right. Less weight by drinking more.
Of course, all these facts are pleasing. But what’s most important to me, are the following experiences I made by myself. Drinking more water regularly makes me a better programmer.
When I drink a glass of water every one or two hours, it keeps my body hydrated. This means my brain is also kept hydrated. Well, and as strange as it may sound, a hydrated brain helps to focus, memorize and remember stuff way better.
This leads to a better performance at my developer job and this, in turn, just makes me happier. I’m literally less annoyed by any task or bug I have to conquer. Isn’t it crazy how drinking a little bit more water can change your daily life?
If you’re using Slack at work, there’s even a nice way to remind you to drink a glass of water every now and then. Let me give you an example:
/remind me "It's time to drink some water!" at 9 am every day
/remind me "It's time to drink some water!" at 11 am every day
/remind me "It's time to drink some water!" at 1 pm every day
/remind me "It's time to drink some water!" at 3 pm every day
/remind me "It's time to drink some water!" at 5 pm every day
Now every time Slack reminds you to drink, enjoy your glass of water and you might have added 1.5 liters to your body on that day. Trust me, you will feel and perform much better. But as always, consistency is key here. Do it not only for one day (though this can already show an effect). Try to do it for a whole week and look at the change.
Sleep 7 hours
Contrary to cool hackers’ belief, it’s not cool to sleep only four hours a night. I know that many may think that way and enjoy being a night owl, but in the long run, this will definitely not benefit your health.
You can read it anywhere. Managers that only sleep four hours and then do a 20-minute power nap during the day and they are so productive – without any other stuff that keeps them focused. And I’m not talking about coffee. Yeah, sure. Of course, there are exceptions. But for most of us, it’s crucial to get a refreshing sleep.
Arianna Huffington calls it a sleep revolution, and I think she’s absolutely right. It is a revolution, because more and more people accept, that you need enough sleep to function properly.
And it’s not only about the sleep itself. It’s also about a pleasant evening routine, where you prepare your body to go to sleep. Dimmed lights, no electronic screens (except the e-ink ones maybe), no alcohol, and so on. Ideally, you’ll go to bed at the same time every day.
Such a routine executed over weeks or even months will improve your productivity and even your overall happiness drastically.
Now that’s a habit that maybe not that easy to build. But as I already have mentioned in my post about some ways to start getting physically fit, you don’t have to join the gym right at the beginning.
Start with something really easy for you. Regular exercise can already be a 30-minute walk around the block. Heck, start with ten minutes if that’s more realistic.
A goal for many fitness trackers or pedometer apps is to achieve 10.000 steps on one day. It’s just about walking 10.000 steps. Of course, that’s a lot when you’re just starting out. But hey, only have to walk a bit. I mean, nobody is asking you to run or even train for a marathon.
When you’re done with your job for the day, you might even don’t have to change your clothes. Just get out of the house and start walking. Doing it with a friend or your spouse is even more fun.
But the really funny part about this is, that even when you think you’re completely exhausted, a short walk can give you new energy. Try it!
If you build these habits, it’s a great foundation for your body and mind. When you keep your body fit, awake and hydrated, you will be less stressed and come up with good ideas to finish your tasks faster and more elegant.