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The Ultimate Life Hack for Developers

Friday, July 19th, 2019

The ultimate life hack for developers is also one of the most difficult to implement - exercise!

If you are anything like me, then you have likely felt unmotivated with your work as a developer more than a handful of times. You may have even suffered from burn out - heck, you may be struggling with this right now.

In an attempt to tackle the dreaded 'after lunch slump' I was suffering from on a daily basis, I decided to lace up a pair of running shoes and join a local gym. Six months later, I can confidently say that exercise has helped me...

  • Reduce burn-out and fatigue
  • Keep a clear head throughout the day
  • Become more efficient at problem-solving
  • Become more creative

Not bad, huh?

Implementing the habit

In the past I have had an 'on-off' relationship with exercise, but I have now found a routine that works great for me. Usually I go to the gym in the morning before work and although this doesn't suit everyone, I find it starts the day off nicely and the gym is always a lot quieter compared to the evening. The trick is to make it as painless as possible to get out of bed and out the door, so I always follow these steps...

  1. Prepare a kit bag the night before and place it by the front door next to your shoes. Don't forget your water bottle, headphones and a fresh towel (make it impossible to forget anything!)
  2. Prepare your exercise clothes the night before and leave them close to your bed so you can spring out in the morning and get dressed before you can convince yourself otherwise.
  3. Go to bed at a sensible time and set an alarm that is difficult to ignore or snooze, I use Alarmy as it forces me to get out of bed and take a photo of the wall in my bathroom to shut it up.
  4. Ensure you have the ingredients available for a quick, filling breakfast (pancakes and banana is usually my go-to).

This routine will not work for everyone, but it suits my schedule perfectly. It may take some trial and error to realize your perfect routine, so be sure to experiment - hit the gym at 2am wearing a tailored suit if that works for you!

The results

Making exercise a habit has given me the energy and enthusiasm to do many things I wouldn't usually find the time for (including this blog!). Although I lose around 1 hour a day to the gym, my remaining time is much more productive.

Integrating a healthy exercise habit into my life allows me to get more done in less time.

Spending time at the gym doesn’t need to be boring either, I usually spend the time listening to a podcast or reading a book (it looks super nerdy, but who cares?!). Exercise also gives you some much needed time away from your desk, which can often lead to problem-solving and new ideas. It will almost certainly be difficult at first, and you will probably fail over and over again (the early mornings suck). But try not to let a missed day turn into a missed week. Try to label the entire process as an experiment and you will have a higher chance of success. Put simply - figure out what works best for you and give yourself a good reason to force yourself out the door.

Hey there 👋 - I'm Luke Brown, a frontend web developer who often doesn't write about development at all.