We often hear about developers who burn the candle at both ends by working on their apps at all hours of the night with zero sleep. But this is dangerous!
There’s nothing wrong with staying up a few hours later for work occasionally. However, if this becomes habitual, both your health and your quality of work will suffer.
Think you can work all night then double-up on your sleep and be OK? Not a chance. There’s no way around it: you need to sleep a consistent amount of hours every night.
Typical, it is recommended that you should get 7 hours of sleep per night, but every person is different. Find your perfect number, and stick to it, no excuses.
If you get your ideal amount of sleep every night before work, you’re going to feel fantastic, will stay productive, and will churn out consistent, quality work. It’s one of the key things freelance developers need to know, and once you find yourself churning out consistent work, you’re going to get a lot more done and will make less design mistakes in the long run.
Further to the tip above, you will also need to take frequent, regular breaks during a workday. As you work, your mind becomes exhausted, your eyes are fatigued, your legs and back are stiff, and it’s harder to consistently work at an optimal level. While you may feel as if this interrupts your train of thought, it’s mandatory.
Taking a 5-minute break every 25 minutes so that your quality of work doesn’t suffer throughout the day. Stand up, don’t look at a screen (mobile phone included!), stretch, walk around, and return to work. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
One of the most important things freelance developers need to know (and truthfully, everyone needs to know this tip) is that it’s vital that you are active in some regard. It can be as hardcore as weightlifting or as simple as a few Yoga exercises or going for a 30-minute jog; just be sure that you are active in some capacity. Being active results in an improved mind, self-esteem, and avoids burnout. Be active to be healthy, happy, and ready to take on the world every single day.
Most of us love eating unhealthy foods: burgers, pizza, nachos, burritos, etc. Yet, you can’t eat them all the time. As fun as they are to eat, chowing down on a bag of fries and an apple fritter every night for dinner is going to make you feel like Jabba the Hutt all the time; worst of all, this will severely affect your ability to perform work at an ideal level. Control your portion sizes! Eat well, and your work will benefit.
Have a Hobby
In other words, have something to do when you are not working! A lot of people have a problem with separating their work life from their personal life, and eventually the two become one. When this happens, you get people that know nothing but work, and it kills their personal lives.
Don’t get me wrong: making freelance apps is awesome, but it shouldn’t consume your life. Have a hobby that you can fall back on when you’re done for the day and need to unwind; the less it has in common with developing freelance apps, the better. For example, I know a freelance developer that uses carpentry as an escape. His quality of work remains at an optimal level and he gets to make awesome furniture. Find your perfect hobby, and use it to escape from your work.
When you feel burned out, lost, hopeless, or simply need some advice, you need to have someone to talk to when the going gets tough. Speak with your peers, other freelance developers, join a community of other freelance developers (Reddit is a great place to start), so you can vent when you need it. Having a line of support is the best way to avoid any kind of burnout, so be sure you have it!
There are many reasons why burnout occurs, but by doing the following above, you’re going to stamp it out before it even begins. Plus, you’ll feel great!