Grind-Culture Doesn't Make You A Better Programmer, But Will Make You Sick
5 min read
When I stepped into programming, coming from a completely different direction, I met many people who also started their programming journey just now and tried to reach the stars within a month. For me, it was nice meeting like-minded people, but I noticed one thing that made me worried. The extreme focus on the grind-culture mentality. In twitter-threads about "How long do you program per day?" people answered 12 hours, 16 hours some even more. Proudly saying they never take a break and found celebration in this. Let me tell you about grind-culture.
Your Brain Needs Breaks To Function
This is something you may not like to hear, but the more you shovel into your brain without giving your brain a rest, the more you will forget. While there is technically not a limit to how much your brain can store in one day, there is a limit that comes to your personal energy and to your brain's ability to form neuronal connections. When you learn something, the information is in a kind of buffer together with everything else around you, that you experience every day. When you sleep at night, all those information will be filtered and then sorted. The brain forms new connections between neurons to access and connect knowledge.
For example when you learn a new language, your brain will make new connections to the languages you already know and add those new words to them.
But what if you don't do that? If you don't get enough sleep? First of all, you won't have the time to process the information learned and our brain is smart with that - it will simply let you forget it to make space for new information coming in. But not only that. You may even forget things outside of your learning - appointments, birthdays, anniversaries. Because your brain just throws everything out to make space. And since it doesn't have the time to look for what's important and what's not - it will just throw out randomly.
Photo by Lux Graves on Unsplash
Stress, Burnout, Mental Illnesses
While you are overstimulating your brain and not keeping anything long-term, you will actively realize that you can't learn efficiently. And you realize that you can't memorize things well. This will start another process, which is stress, guilt, and the tendency to even try harder and learn more and sleep less. Maybe even drinking too much coffee and worse consuming other things.
That is the point where you actively driving yourself not only into Burnout, but you will also physically harm your body. Your immune system will get weaker and you will be more likely to get sick. Your brain will answer to you with headaches.
Especially people with a tendency to wanting to reach high goals and are perfectionistic can now get moody, demotivated. The feeling no matter how much time they put into their work, it won't stick. And when having high expectations of yourself this is a defeating feeling.
Change Your Mindset
Many programmers treat their computers better than their bodies and brains. But in order for your body and brain to work, you need to respect their limits and also maintain them the way they need it.
Get sleep, plenty! How much sleep someone needs is highly dependent on the person, but if you feel tired and exhausted every day and guilty to go to bed, then you need sleep for sure.
Sleep makes you memorize things better, it will also reset your emotional state of the day. When people go back to problems a day later and find solutions with a "fresh mind" then it's exactly that.
Get good food. Everyone loves a good pizza or loves to order stuff when "busy". But think about your food as the fuel of your body. If you fuel it wrong, it can't work the way you may need it to. If you have access to a freezer, do something I love to do. Meal-prep. Take an afternoon to prepare all the dinners for the week and simply freeze them. It's also cheaper!
If you are like me and you easily forget to eat when working, set a timer for at least lunch. Snacks might be tempting to snack on while working, but from my experience, unless it's fruit or nuts or anything else healthy, it will get your brain tired and sluggish.
Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash
Remember Why You Do Something
I see many people saying they do it for their families. It's noble. But never forget - a family does not only need the parent that drives in money but also the parent that is a person to make memories with. A person to have a special bond to. A person that is there at birthdays, that will take their kids by the hand to get some ice cream. Having those moments with your family will give you another view of why you do things. If you lose this time to Burnout there is no going back. Your children will not stay little. They will grow quicker than you think and then leave the house without you being able to make up for it.
Quit Grind-Culture And Be Good To Yourself And The People Around You
Since Grind-Culture is technically not working - even tho we tell that to ourselves, there is no reason to stick to it. Getting out of that mental state can be hard, but it's worth it.