In order to be productive, one should follow much more than good practices just in the workplace during working hours. Good productivity comes as a byproduct of good physiological and psychological well-being.
Table of Contents
Having enough quality sleep
Having enough quality sleep is of uttermost importance. I go to sleep at the same time of the day.
One to two hours before that I usually stop using all kinds of screens and reading a book, listening to a podcast, or having a conversation with somebody is probably the best approach. I guess you probably already know that blue light is forbidden before boing to bed. My lightbulbs are also in the warm white spectrum and are non-flickering.
I also sleep in a completely dark and relatively cold room. Sometimes I use ear tips to insulate noises.
Alarm clocks in the morning are a big no-go. My body decides how much sleep it needs. It doesn’t make sense to wake up an hour earlier only to be sleepy and grumpy the whole day. I usually need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep.
Drinking plenty of water
Most people are chronically dehydrated. I strive to drink a lot of water and I drink mostly water. Any kind of sweetened beverages is a very bad idea. Yeah, you might have to go to pee more often, but it’s good for you and is another reason to take more short rests during the day.
Choose your sport, but choose at least one at least 3 times a week. I like to go to the gym, to jog from time to time, to play table tennis, soccer, volleyball and to ride a bike. Walking after work is an excellent idea. I strive to walk at least 8 000 – 10 000 steps most days.
You body literally needs to move often for your mind to stay sharp. Do not underestimate the power of exercise. Any kind of aerobic ~120 BPM activity for a couple of minutes here and there is awesome!
Mind your meals and drinks
Working on a desk, owning a car, not doing any exercise and eating whatever you want is a sure path to obesity, brain fog and low productivity. I highly recommend that you install MyFitnessPal, buy a scale and count calories for at least a month. You will learn a lot of stuff about the caloric density of various foods. Knowing your energy expenditure as well as the caloric burn rate of various activities will let you build a model in your head. If you are in a constant caloric surplus, your health will only degrade in time. My personal advice for men is to stay around 12%-14% body fat if you want to be healthy.
Many people overeat unconsciously (with bad and/or processed foods) and then blame genetics and what not but themselves.
Drinks loaded with sugar and empty calories and also very dangerous and should be avoided. Beware of alcohol.
Learn how to relax
Software development can be a very stressful job sometimes. Everyone should learn how to release daily stress. Exercise helps a lot, but some very powerful tools are for example various forms of meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, laugher, social gatherings with friends, walking in nature/parks/mountains, massages, etc.
You have to find what works for you and to schedule it often and on purpose! I’m not kidding. I even have my favorite activities as repeating events in my calendar so I won’t forget them. Sometimes I just forget to feel good but it is so easy! So go find your thing and just do it!
Going on vacation also works very well for me and I strive to do it quite often. The better you are rested, the more productive you are! Working too much for extended periods of time often has the opposite effect on productivity and your general health.