I Can’t Stop Thinking About Programming After Work!

I gotta be honest with you one of the hardest things for me and software development has always been letting go of work when I get home. I think there’s just something about the type of work that we do and how focused we have to be that makes it really difficult for us to just put it aside and get back to our life when the workday is through. Hi, I’m Jayme, and at Healthy Software Developer I want to help you have a long career where you don’t get burned out you don’t get pushed around by people that don’t really understand software development and you can just make sure you have a really healthy career. In the many years that I’ve been writing code it’s really frustrating that while I’m at work. I try to give it my all. You know sitting at the computer we often get these problems thrown at us, and we try to work through them over and over and over again and, you’ve probably been in the situation I have many times where you’ll be trying to solve a problem and you’ve been reading all these things online you’ve been doing all these searches you’ve been trying everything and you go over to a co-worker and you’re like “hey can you come look at this for me for a little bit?”. And they come take a look at it and while you’re going through showing them the problem – it works! And you know there’s just something about when you just keep working on the same problem and pressing against trying to solve it over and over and over again that I think we don’t give ourselves enough of a break at least I certainly don’t and so one of the things I just wanted to talk about today that we can maybe talk about in the comments too is there’s something about technical work and especially programming and software development that I think the way that we engage our mind so much throughout the work day when we go home, man at least the first probably 5 to 10 years that I did this, I would often get out of the car come into my house and immediately just try to find something totally other than you know anything technical to try to get my mind off it I’d try to play a video game, I’d try to play some music – just anything to try to get my mind off work and it would never last. You know within probably a couple hours, I’d find myself sort of subconsciously just thinking about whatever problem I’m in the middle of solving at work. And You may have had this happen to you, too I actually have had many times when I’ve been trying to solve a problem and I’ll be working on it for weeks and weeks and weeks and you know my first job when I was younger was really working in a pizza place and something about when you can do a job where you come in in the morning and you start flipping burgers or making pizzas or whatever that is and at the end of the day, you’re done. There’s there’s no like special pizza that you’re building that takes you two weeks where you know the the work that we do in software development the problems that we try to solve they’re ongoing problems that can take us days weeks months years to solve. And so I think I’d like to hear just things you’ve maybe tried that have helped you with this I still struggle with this myself. You know some of the things I’ve done are you know I did do yoga for a while which was really hard for me being a guy and you know all my own personal hang-ups about it. You know I looked at yoga is kind of like something that you do that’s like super just out of my comfort zone at least for myself where I was and when I first started trying to do it and my wife you know she’s been doing yoga for many years, but I found when I was doing yoga more often, and I and I really need to get back into doing it probably again she actually teaches a little bit now that would really help kind of bring me bring myself to like a present moment when I’m just thinking about that moment where I’m doing yoga and I’m not thinking about you know past things that have happened at work or maybe in my life I’m not thinking about the future. And I think when I would come home from work and just try to throw myself into you know a video game or watching YouTube videos, or you know just something I could do that would sort of distract me it would focus me on something but it would it was just a short-term really escape and it didn’t really help me really let go of the workday. And so you know I’ve had situations where I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and all of a sudden, I’ll open my eyes and I’ll think I have a solution to something I’ve been trying to solve with my code and if I’ve got you know the code on my computer at home which often times I do with whatever I’m working on unless it’s for you know let’s say a client where I can only work on their computers because I have had sensitive clients like that. You know I’ll come rushing over to my computer and just start banging away at it and try hammering out code you know in the middle of the night at like 3:00 in the morning to try to solve the problem that now I think I have a solution to. And I mean I had dreams probably the first four or five years when I was doing software development where I dream I’m standing at a whiteboard. You know whiteboarding certain aspects let’s say of the software architecture or something like that. So you know work can become at least for me really all-consuming and I think you know just the nature of corporate America this isn’t a true of course of all jobs, but it has been for me. You know it seems like The company always wants more out of you which I understand you know people who run a business they want their employees to grow, but at the same time you know I’ve had a really hard time sometimes. Just setting good boundaries for myself, and I think that sometimes leads to coming home from work and not being able to really just let go of work and and treat it like you know what it’s gonna be there tomorrow I’ll have plenty of time to solve it tomorrow and I shared in some of my my software development journey videos where I just sort of talked about the last 20 years and everything I’ve went through how I tried a couple startups me and a co-founder of mine and when we were doing those startups, you know I got completely consumed with work because I had a day job, but I also then had the startup that I was trying to do at night and It was horrible. I mean when I look back on it. This was a couple years ago. You know I had no social life I had no real way to just kind of relax and unwind because it was really almost like every moment of the day, I was thinking about either things I was on the hook for at work or my startup that I was trying to startup and you know this is just my situation not everybody has done something is maybe stupid as I look at it you know I mean I learned a lot of things from that experience, but at the same time I really blew it having three kids. There were many there were a couple years there about two and a half years where I was trying to do those startups where you know I really sacrifice some time that I should have probably spent more with them. But you know such as life right. So I just wonder. Maybe what are some experiences you’ve had. Have you had situations where you come home from work, and it’s just really hard to unplug and short of you know drinking and other stuff that just completely like uses a chemical to get you out of it – What are some like healthier things that maybe you’ve done to help you Let go of work, and just have a nice boundary for yourself So you can go “you know what I’ve done everything I needed to do. I’m not gonna think about it” “I’m gonna enjoy my life outside of work because it’s gonna be there for me in the morning.” Hey, if you’re new here subscribe to my channel I try to put videos out multiple times per week about healthy software development and you can also listen to this as a podcast on Google Play, Stitcher, iTunes, or SoundCloud you can search for “Healthy Software Developer” and you’ll find me. So until next time, Thanks.

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  • Healthy Software Developer says:

    What healthy ways have you found to stop thinking about programming when you get home? Leave me your tips and feedback below!

  • Павел says:

    This is very complicated topic for me as well, though I'm still a student, there are a lot of projects in our university, which we need to accomplish, and it's to stop thinking about them even when you are trying to sleep.
    In my personal experience, what helps to get rid of such thoughts is gym, when you are totally concentrated on how to accomplish some exercise in a right way. You just cannot think about programming, when you need to lift 100 kgs or something like that 🙂
    Another thing, which helps, is talking with people, who are not from IT area. It's impossible to speak with them about "our" themes, and so you are slowly switching and turning your mind into another direction.

  • Impdev says:

    What you said about coming home from work and not being able to take your mind off of things really resonated with me, I'm going through the exact same thing and it's starting to burn me out a bit. I still love my job, but I can't ever seem to just stop. I think a lot of people in the software industry experience this because our work is also what we're passionate about (most of the time), we can't switch off because subconsciously we really don't want to, at least that's how it feels for me. Great video regardless.

  • Mike Chilson says:

    I have a hobby that has nothing to do with programming or being on-line. After dinner, I go down into the workshop and work with wood and other materials using my hands and it winds me down from the day in ways I could have never imagined.

  • Jacob Swartz says:

    Thanks for the vid, it resonates a lot. However I don't necessarily feel burnt out, as much as I do frustrated when it comes to not being able to "switch off" from work. This is due to not being able to connect and engage with what's going on around me at the time.

  • David Yu says:

    Definitely relatable. I had same issues of dreaming about work and not able to fall asleep cuz my brain was so actively thinking about all the problems I had to solve. And I'm sure it's a common problem for most engineers. For me, I considered it a somewhat unhealthy lifestyle especially considering the bigger picture of what it takes to be a healthy human being. In fact, taking our minds off of work is beneficial for us to get more productive at work. So maybe developing some ritual after work to wind down the day would help. Like go play sports or join a book club. You'll get a better sleep at night as well.

  • Code Swag says:

    I have the exact same problem. I get so engrossed by work that I end up doing exactly like what you are saying. Awesome channel by the way, I love the whole Healthy Software Developer concept, keep it up!

  • Mi Randria says:

    I am coming across the same problem at the moment. It is good to know that other people feel the same thing. In my case my brain can't seem to stop thinking about work and I dream a lot about work also. Problem is, I don't feel rested in the morning. It feels like I've been working all night. I'll try yoga I'll see

  • Fan Meow says:

    Furious masturbation. I find it really distract me

  • Evan Adams says:

    I completely understand figuring this out, but I do not think there is a one-solution-fits-all to this problem. Especially in the software industry. I am quitting a job this week that has completely ran my mental state into the ground the past 2.5 years. I was doing exactly what you mentioned: Bringing my work home with me, working into the early morning hours of a day (2am, 3am), giving the company more and more without thought to my own health. Then I broke, started smoking weed daily, drinking excessively, sometimes even taking my laptop to a bar during lunch hour. It got very unhealthy, very quickly. It was just escapism, like you mention. Then I discovered that isn't the person I have always been, so I had to identify what changed in my life to lead me into these new habits.

    That's when I figured out that being a hard worker does not define me, my habits define me. If my habits are just working my ass off every day, then I'm not human. I'm a freakin robot and everything I do outside of being a freakin robot are just mitigation tactics to keep my mind from breaking. I was being reactive, rather than proactive. I had to have that thought drilled into my head to make a change. So lately I have been taking steps to carve out those 16 hours of the day I'm awake into work habits, play habits, and emotional habits. Play is still that escapism – where it be having a drink, playing video games, or smoking a bit. But it doesn't consume me anymore. Balance at the daily scope, rather than the weekly, monthly, or yearly scope truly matters in the long run. It just took a company to run my mind into the ground first for me to figure that out.

    Cheers Jayme. Just discovering your videos. Great topics to reflect on.


    Yep , I'm felling that I've been pass trought the same situation , although I've a newly history on programming, only 2 years.
    Started when I get into the university , and recently I start an internship , specifically on web development , since the begin I've been studying studying abruptly every day , and now that I work with it , I just can't stop to think about it , often I need to force myself to stop and sleep, not to mention when like you'd say woke up in middle night with some kind of 'solution' . I got reproved on all my course disciplines (computer science), because I've spent all my time programming , seems that i'm kidding but I don't :'( .

  • samuelps says:

    You're doing an amazing job. Your videos are almost like a therapy for me!

  • jagadeesha kanihal says:

    "Dreaming about programming" – this has happened me.

  • Eugene Lefter says:

    That's crazy, but have you tried DMT?

  • Patrick Iradukunda says:

    This is killing me. As long as I have a computer within reach I can't stop. The only thing that works for me is hanging out with people outside. The problem is my friends are programmers, so when we hangout we are talking about programming…which makes me bring up what I am currently working on ughhhh

  • CryhmeTime says:

    As i have started developing as a teenager i have always tought about "work" as home as i simply replaced time i spent on my hobby with working. Since ever i have this problem that when i am finally home at like 8, i have 2 hours until i go to bed and at least one hour i cant stop about thinking about work, in every silent minute. Just like now i am thinking about a problem on work and it drives me crazy, tomorrow i will remember that i want to play skyrim that evening, but i am going to think about work…

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