How to create structure in your life and stick with it

How to create structure in your life and stick with it

Beginning the developer journey when you are a bit older than the average dev can mean that the path you take may be somewhat more difficult than for some of the younger developers. At least for me, one of the most difficult parts for me has been to maintain structure in my life to make sure I am accountable and stay on track.

When my life lacks structure, it’s easy for me to be distracted and either not spend the time I should be spending on my learning and practicing to be a developer, or to easily get pulled off-topic by something that is interesting but shouldn’t be a priority at that moment.

So how can you create structure to help you stick to your learning plan? For me, one of the best ways has been to use Google Calendar (or another calendar app) to plan out each day and make sure I stick to my schedule. I can set aside time every day for all the various things I should be doing - studying my Anki flash cards, working on Codewars or other problem sets, spending time working on client sites (if I have a current client), building a passion project, or even networking to make the eventual job hunt easier down the road.

I always work better when I have a deadline, so I like to set dates when tasks need to be completed even if there isn't an "official" deadline. When there is no date for completion, I find that it is much easier for me to find an excuse not to work on something and tell myself I'll do it later. We can't work ourselves to death and only do work, but fun/downtime can be planned just like anything else.

When I have a time period that I need to be working on something, I also find that using the Pomodoro technique can keep me on-track and allow me to enjoy my down-time and not feel guilty about taking a break. For me, a bit longer period for each session (about 50min) works best, as I have a bit more time to work on things and don't get interrupted too often.

I hope these ideas help you to build and maintain a bit more structure in your life. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line!