Skip to main content

Gaining Ten Extra Hours a Week

For a long time my work life balance has gone through phases. Some weeks I would spend hours after work writing code. This would exceed to well beyond midnight in some cases. This phase was not sustainable but it appeared to be the norm.

My other hobbies such as reading and gaming were also neglected. These too suffered from weeks of focus, followed by quieter periods.

Over the course of a typical year this cycle would generally balance out, but never feel comfortable. There were always areas that lacked focus. One of my common complaints which I have shared with many other developers is around the lack of time to do anything additional to the day to day job. There always seemed to be a sacrifice.


The book Soft Skills recommends taking the first hour or two out of your weekly day to focus on important goals. This piece of advice was not going to work for me I thought. I was not a morning person.

Sometime after I discovered an article from the Art Of Manliness (AoM) which gave tips on becoming a early riser.

How To

Instead of simply waking up a whole two hours earlier than usual, AoM offered an incremental solution. Set your alarm ten minutes earlier and live with it for a whole week. Each week reduce by a further ten minutes until you hit your target.

This process took about three weeks to see any real benefit. While this can be considered slow progress the act of doing so was incredibly easy. Incrementally reducing the time also provides time for your body to adjust, meaning it's a lot easier to stick with.


The obvious downside here is that the two additional hours you gain in the morning are removed from the end of the day. In other words you'll find yourself going to sleep earlier. Having a good balance between work, hobbies and free time means this trade off is well worth the change.

One area this technique cannot much provide benefit is with children. Developers with children would find it difficult to use an uninterrupted block first thing in the morning. Not being a parent myself means I cannot provide any alternatives.


Like most things in life, small changes add up to big things over a long period. Thanks to this change I nearly doubled the amount of blog posts I wrote back in 2015 when compared to 2014. I've read more books and watched more technical videos during this period than ever, while still maintaining a healthy balance in other areas of my life. Give it a go, become a morning person.


Popular posts from this blog

Constant Object Anti Pattern

Most constants are used to remove magic numbers or variables that lack context. A classic example would be code littered with the number 7. What does this refer to exactly? If this was replaced with DaysInWeek or similar, much clarity is provided. You can determine that code performing offsets would be adding days, rather than a mysterious number seven.Sadly a common pattern which uses constants is the use of a single constant file or object. The beauty of constants is clarity, and the obvious fact such variables are fixed. When a constant container is used, constants are simply lumped together. These can grow in size and often become a dumping ground for all values within the application.A disadvantage of this pattern is the actual value is hidden. While a friendly variable name is great, there will come a time where you will want to know the actual value. This forces you to navigate, if only to peek at the value within the constant object. A solution is to simple perform a refactor …

Three Steps to Code Quality via TDD

Common complaints and problems that I've both encountered and hear other developers raise when it comes to the practice of Test Driven Development are: Impossible to refactor without all the tests breakingMinor changes require hours of changes to test codeTest setup is huge, slow to write and difficult to understandThe use of test doubles (mocks, stubs and fakes is confusing)Over the next three posts I will demonstrate three easy steps that can resolve the problems above. In turn this will allow developers to gain one of the benefits that TDD promises - the ability to refactor your code mercifully in order to improve code quality.StepsStop Making Everything PublicLimit the Amount of Dependencies you Use A Unit is Not Always a Method or ClassCode quality is a tricky subject and highly subjective, however if you follow the three guidelines above you should have the ability to radically change implementation details and therefore improve code quality when needed.

DRY vs DAMP in Tests

In the previous post I mentioned that duplication in tests is not always bad. Sometimes duplication becomes a problem. Tests can become large or virtually identically excluding a few lines. Changes to these tests can take a while and increase the maintenance overhead. At this point, DRY violations need to be resolved.SolutionsTest HelpersA common solution is to extract common functionality into setup methods or other helper utilities. While this will remove and reduce duplication this can make tests a bit harder to read as the test is now split amongst unrelated components. There is a limit to how useful such extractions can help as each test may need to do something slightly differently.DAMP - Descriptive and Meaningful PhrasesDescriptive and Meaningful Phrases is the alter ego of DRY. DAMP tests often use the builder pattern to construct the System Under Test. This allows calls to be chained in a fluent API style, similar to the Page Object Pattern. Internally the implementation wil…