5 tips to improving work-life balance as a software developer

The life of a software developer can get quite tedious especially with the pressure of making codes run efficiently. However, maintaining a great work-life balance is essential.

As a software developer, keeping your mental health in the best shape is quite crucial in being successful at your job. But with what seems to be a never-ending pile of work, having a good work-life balance feels like a dream to some modern-day software developers.

Being a developer, it is not unusual for you to be involved in nightmare projects where you are forced to work late into the night, on weekends and completely forget about having a social life. If you’re one of the many programmers out there who are consistently fighting this battle, here are some tips that would stay productive at work and ensure that you create enough time for your personal life.

1. Always prioritize your time

More often than not, developers are engrossed in so much work that all they think about is finishing the task before them. Therefore, rather than taking the much-needed breaks, they would trade their personal time to get more work done.

While this approach might work in the short term, it is not sustainable in the long term and leads to burnout.

You can create a list of tasks you need to complete on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Do this for both your professional and personal life. If you have to meet deadlines, you can move some non-pressing tasks around to balance things up.  

Always make time out for family, friends and even a vacation.

2. Create definite boundaries

Since the pandemic broke out and remote work became more rampant, reaching out to co-workers have become as simple as sending a text message, email or making a phone call.

Almost everyone now has a smartphone, and this makes communication a lot easier. However, just because you can be easily reached doesn’t mean you have to attend to work outside of official work hours.

If you can, leave your laptop at work and attend to emails only during work hours. You can equally postpone works calls until you’re back in the office.

It is necessary to set these boundaries with your employers, so they equally understand not to intrude into your personal time. The moment you start giving attention to work outside of working hours, it is instantly perceived that you have given people the express permission to always do that.

While there are emergencies that require you must respond to, these instances don’t happen frequently.

3. Learn to say ‘no’ to work you can’t handle

Sometimes, it’s really difficult to say no to certain work opportunities but doing this when you are overwhelmed with work becomes highly necessary.

It is tempting to pass up the opportunity to work with a huge client with a great project but if you’re unable to take on any extra work, the best thing to do is to either postpone it or reject it.

However, you can always learn to delegate certain tasks to other colleagues to free up some time on your hands. Accepting every responsibility thrown at you would only leave you feeling worn out and with no free time for yourself.

4. Take frequent breaks

The tech industry has a high rate of programmer burnout, which is quite damaging to any programmer’s physical and mental health. Programming requires a lot of brainpower and if you have to write codes for 12 hours or more daily, then you’re bound to wear your mind out and eventually, lose passion for coding.

So, similar to a physical workout, you need to always take breaks in between. The human body isn’t designed to be staring at a computer screen for several hours on end.

5. Don’t be a perfectionist

It is good to take your job seriously and strive for perfection with your work but when you try to become too perfect, this can seriously backfire.

Doing more work than is required of you would steal up time that should be spent on more personal things. Therefore, you need to determine how much work is good enough and not spend too much time on a single project because in the end, what is visible to you might not be visible to anyone else.

To progress in your career as a software developer, it is important to maintain the overall quality of your life. Always pay close attention to your work-life balance and give equal attention to your work as to your personal life.