3 Tips To Avoid Bringing Work Stress To Software Engineers Home | by Edward Huang | November, 2022

#2 – Have an end-of-work routine

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You’re in the middle of writing code, and it’s 5 o’clock. You don’t want to end your day in the middle of a thought, so keep working. 3 hours pass and you finish the work at 8 pm.

As soon as you get back from work, you can’t stop your mind from wondering whether the algorithm you’ve implemented is correct.

“What if the user doesn’t sign in?” Do you think. “God! I didn’t account for when the user doesn’t sign in!”

You do more work going back home for that edge case. Once you’ve finished fixing and testing your code, you look at the clock, now at 11pm.

Software engineering is a cerebral job. Even if your work clock runs out at 5 pm, your mind doesn’t work.

This differs from other professions, such as pharmacists and doctors, which serve patients during specified working hours. When you’re done, you’re done—you don’t have to think about work during off-hours.

Even though your company said that you are working 40 hours a week as a software engineer, in reality you are working 70 hours per week.

Your physical body cannot rest because your mind cannot rest.

I’ve tried all kinds of tools to prevent problems getting back home from work, and here are three tips I followed and found most useful in preventing it.

How to force your mind to stop thinking at a certain time?

Our mind is a superpower. Everything we want can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You need to learn how to trick your mind into thinking it’s okay to stop and continue the next day.

I used to think that I had to finish everything before the work week ended.

Your intention to end the day by not finishing a bug sounds like a cliffhanger on TV. Your brain wants to know what will happen next because you allow your brain to Thinking,

You soon discover that you work longer hours, which affects your mental and physical health.

According to research by psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, unfinished tasks stay in people’s minds until they’re finished—meaning once you’ve achieved something, you have a lot of drive to finish it. so your brain will stop running on it again.

You need to trick your mindset into thinking that your work is never going to end.

You want a hard stop once you hit a certain time on the clock and delegate unfinished tasks to the next day. You have to build Hemingway Bridge to tell your future self to come back to that flow zone.

Doing this the first time can be uncomfortable. However, once you make a habit of forcing yourself to stop thinking at a certain time, the discomfort will ease.

Whenever I can’t complete a task in the allotted time, I often make “where I left off” notes and “what do I want to do next” notes for myself. It helps me build a Hemingway Bridge that uses yesterday’s flow position to drive yesterday’s momentum. When I start my work the next day, I’ll know where I left off. I can enter a state of flow much faster and easier because I have left all the notes on what I want to do next. This helps me to leave all my worries and thoughts in a note and not take it back to my personal space.

Try this method, and your brain will thank you for it.

To let your brain know that you are leaving work behind, deliberately mark a time during the day.

Sometimes your brain just needs a signal to get you ready for time at home. It’s even better if this hint can help you decompress. For example, you can take the more scenic route home, listen to music or podcasts to relax, and give yourself time to switch gears for family life. You can walk in the park for 30 minutes at the end of the work day to indicate that your work is done.

I would exercise daily around 5 pm to indicate that I have finished my work. Then when I’m finished exercising, I’ll start my personal evening routine.

When we are not working from home, come indicates that ” You are done with the work.You usually log off from your laptop and leave your work laptop at the office. However, now that many software engineers work hybrid or remotely from home, our work and personal hours often mix. We may need certain activities or signs to announce that we are done.

Create a designated place for work. Make it a rule to work from home only in exceptional circumstances and keep computers, folders and notebooks on your desk.

Your brain stores information about your surroundings and environment in cognitive spaces. Therefore, you must tell your mind about “work” and “rest” at a particular time or place.

The traditional 9-5 enables us to associate home with “comfort”. However, far-flung work has destroyed our home’s association with “leisure.” Our work schedule becomes more non-linear.

“For example, a remote worker may start his day at 6:00 a.m. and work until 9:00 a.m. local time. To spend time with family, this person will not double-check their work email until 3:00 PM local time and will continue to work until 8:00 PM local time. And tomorrow may be a completely different program depending on work/life circumstances.” – GitLab.

When I worked from home during the pandemic, I first moved my work desk setup from my bedroom to another location, the “work” room.

When I go into the “Work” room, my mindset will immediately auto-switch to work. When I go to my bedroom, my mind automatically registers a time to rest and a time to sleep.

Doing so will help you mentally take off work when you leave the physical room, which will encourage you to work as efficiently as possible instead of procrastinating.

Software engineers never do 9-5 work because if we solve our problems by 5 then our mind keeps racing like a hamster on the wheel. Here are three ways I use to protect my mental health that can help protect you too:

  • Force your brain to stop thinking about problems after a specified amount of time using the Hemingway Bridge method.
  • Create a ritual at the end of the day to signal to your brain that you are running out of work.
  • Set a specific place or time to work.

Try these three tips, and you’ll see that the habit of bringing work at home fades away.

What methods do you use to avoid bringing work home?

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