Do you have any energy and time for your personal goals after a full day of work at your job?

Ilona Dee Codes on January 28, 2019

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If I didn't pursue my personal goals I'm end up with no energy for life. As it hard as it can seem, your personal goals are the ones that matter. If you dedicate everything to work, and it's not one of your personal goals, you'll find yourself burning out and in a terrible situation.

It's similar to sports. Getting exercise every day isn't an optional activity. If you leave it out, you'll suffer for it. It's irrelevant whether you think you have time or energy, there is no way you can avoid it and remain healthy. I find the same is true of personal goals.

Sure, I'm exhausted some days, and have a terrible lack of time. But the only thing making it worthwhile is that I'm pursuing my own goals.


You are right! It's very important to have personal goals. They can boost and motivate us to live and help avoid daily routine.


I usually do have the energy mainly because I exercise a lot. I hit the gym four times per week and do two aerobic workouts on top of that. It is easy for me to say that because a few years ago I didn't exercise at all and had no energy. Staying active seems to give me a lot of energy in return.

What I don't have that much is time. On top of my work and gym, I try to blog, write short stories and do some programming as well. Not to mention that I try to spend as much time with my wife as possible. Of course, I try to maintain some kind of social life, too.


Thank you for the answer! You do the right thing 🙂


Keep up the good job! I identify with you, and is true: staying active gives lots of energy :D


The answer is complicated.
The easy one here is time. One of the things I realized by getting older is that time is scarce. Since getting older involved getting married and having two kids there is very little time left for personal - in the sense of individualistic - goals.

The answer to that part is: I have little time.

Next is the part concerning energy. The answer here is varying due to workload, daily performance level, food consumption, sleep etc.
So the answer here is: Yes, there are days where I have energy left which wasn't consumed by something else.

The really hard part is about personal goals.
That shifted a lot, because of the varying interpretation of what my goals are. And having little to no time helps focussing on what your goals are.

So setting realistic goals is helpful here.

If you accept that, you could say: »No, I do not do any sideprojects and code irregularly from time to time in a language I like just for the sake of doing it« and at the same time:

»Yes, I have energy and time for personal goals«.

That interpretation of the question doesn't fit in a headhunter's profile but in my definition of work life balance.


Thank you for so the expanded answer! I appreciate it 🙂


I am assuming that for personal goals you mean career and/or side projects related goal.

For me, It's all about energy and doing different activities.

If I spend all day coding, then I have no energy left to spend in front of a computer (or TV or any device) so I prefer doing sports, hanging out with friends (other personal goals) read: taking care of my body and brain, build and preserve important relationships.

If I spend the day in meetings or communicating with people (planning etc.) then I have some emotional and intellectual energy left to work on a side project at home.

It's important to set goals in order to achieve them, but it's also important to diversify the day :)


I see your work-life balance is right and, moreover, gives your wellbeing a boost along with your career 🙂


I've dealt with this for a while and recently I came to the conclusion that I was actually very burnt out. Let me give a little context.

I originally started out in college as a CS major. My freshman year, I decided to start a company with a friend I had met. He was non-technical, so I ended up doing a lot of the programming work on the application. Between the company, school work, and extracurriculars, I wasn't really sleeping much and I was drinking a ton of caffeine. This culminated in my sophomore year with me feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest at 3 in the morning after a couple hours of coding. At that point, I decided I needed to do something differently. I stopped working so much, switched majors, and took better care of myself.

I figured I'd recover pretty fast if I stopped burning the candle at both ends. I was still doing a lot, but it was all stuff I really wanted to do. The company ultimately didn't go anywhere, but I started working on other things. I had a lot of things that would burn out pretty quickly. I didn't seem to have a lot of motivation. This persisted for about 4 years, but was so minor I didn't really think anything of it.

Recently, I've been much more motivated to work on things. All of this to say I think I burnt out so hard that I had perpetual, 4-year long burn out. Let's call it cosmic background burnout.

This isn't to say that this is the only reason it can be hard to work on personal goals after working all day long, but for me realizing this as burn-out and taking steps to deal with that has been a real life-changer. I find it much easier to work on personal goals outside of work now that I am actually addressing my burn-out. Take a look at the other things you are doing, and see if there is something you can cut that is burning you out.

Hopefully, this helps! Good luck!


Thank you so much for your story! 🙏 It's tough to detect when we have reached the point of burnout. The stress that contributes to burnout can come mainly from our job, also from our overall lifestyle, and personality traits and thought patterns, such as perfectionism and pessimism, can contribute as well. I am glad that you have overcome burnout and regained your balance! 🙂


Nice advice. Btw What are the steps you took to control the burnout?


Depends on my daily workload. There are days in which I have little work so when I get home I usually continue with my projects for an hour or two. This doesn't happen very often but I try to work on them at least an hour a week.


You are consistent! I believe the consistency is more important over quantity of hours on the way to success.


I would say achieving your personal goals is the reason you keep motivated regardless of your full day of work. It's totally OK if you want to take some rest or procrastinate once in a while. Take good care of your health is also the key to keep you going to do things you love. FWIW, I mean mental health and physical health. So, keep it up on your hard work and make sure you have work-life balance to be awesome.


Your willpower is limited, so if you spend the most of it during the workday, you won't have enough to pursue your personal goals. It's easier to get distracted, or simply to be tired.

One solution is to reverse your schedule. Wake up earlier, and spend your first hours of the day (this moment where you have the highest focus ability / willpower) to pursue your personal goals. You will allocate your best energy to it, and then go to work.


It's great if you can spend the first early hours on pursuing your personal goals. I wish I could do that in winter.


It's a question of habit. You may be interested by the Miracle Morning book.


Not necessarily all the time. I think I need to set a schedule or something.

I'm trying to learn Japanese since I want to go to Japan in two yeah, play the guitar and learn some basic music theory since I graduated and have a job now, and also trying to stay up to date so I can be relevant for work.

It's tough, because after my commute, gym, and making dinner I'm beat.

I just need to set a schedule starting today and this post motivated me to take action.


Have you tried to plan your day the night before?


Not recently, life was a little mess so trying to put pieces back.

Making it the week of change and a day at a time.


These days (and for quite some time now) I have neither the time nor the energy. And even when I have both (rarely), I use them for other things (chores mainly).

It's been a while since I had the time and/or motivation to work on (or even start) other personal goals (projects, blog, learning guitar...) after a day of work. Even week-ends are no good to work on those because I just want to rest, chill and do other things (go out with friends for example).


I agree with that. Focussing on the goals without any motivation is difficult. Especially, if the body and mind just want to take a rest and relax.


I've been trying for weeks, since I have some online courses that I want to finish, but some days I got home so tired that I just want to watch tv. One thing that I do to do my personal goals is when I'm making dinner, I also watch some videos from those courses.


Balance is everything. Unfortunately, fatigue has become a part of our daily routine and when we feel that there is no energy to do anything, then it's time to take a rest.


I find it's easier to wake up early and start the day off well before work. Hit the gym or cycle into work, this gets my first aim of health completed for the day, also helps me feel better at work generally.

Plan my day to figure out when to have lunch with my book of the month, this means that I am going to be reading it during the day and not wait till the end of the day to do this. This month it's design patterns.

Side projects generally fit in the evening around children, they are rare but i use some other techniques like weekly learning goals at work to improve my skills.


You are so lucky that you can spend morning hours on your personal goals 👍


Before I had children I would get up at 630 to get the gym in each day.
Now the children get up at 630 so both myself and partner are up earlier, once they are dressed fed and watered, then I'm off :)


When it comes to energy, it depends what that full day consists of. If it's "lightweight" e.g. last day of the sprint, updating docs, releasing stuff and so on, I'm usually happy to get something "real" done once I get home. If I've spent the entire day cracking some difficult problem and spitting out LoC like crazy, then I usually don't have energy for absolutely anything afterwards.

Time is a whole different beast but I'm on the "lucky" spot here. Being an introverted nerd with no kids, I spend most of my time at home and get to choose what I do on a given day. I do my best to spend at least some quality time with my wife but other than that I'm free. I realize that this might end one day but I guess (naively hope) that I'll be happy to change my personal goal to "be a great parent" and fully commit to that.


Yes, all in good time 🙂


Not really.

Of the 12 years I'm working now, I did exactly 2 years of full-time employment. These were the most miserable years of my life.

The rest of the time I did part-time jobs or was a freelancer. Worked much better for me.

I like the freedom of sleeping until noon and working from my girlfriends appartment.


Usually no, and less all the time. Between basic self-care, family time, and slowly increasing age, I don't have a lot left in the tank after work.

It's partly why I hate meetups--they are always scheduled for right after work! Somebody please organize a dev breakfast!


Currently I'm working in customer service and usually I work 8-10 hours a day to come home and study in Lambda School (bootcamp) 3 hours a day. The days I got off from Lambda are Friday and Sunday but still I code at least 3 hours those days. The way I work is that usually procrastination is a slope. If I miss one day and just say to the other nah, I'm going to chill I'm going to miss a few days cause I just don't "feel" like doing it.

Most of the time I have no energy for it but when I get in the zone and start coding it just flows. Having clear and realistic goals plus using techniques like the pomodoro technique can help you achieve your personal goals a bit easier and it's ok to have days you just don't feel it but like exercise you just got to do it.


I feel you. Often the most challenging thing is to start 🚀
I also use the Pomodoro technique and adjust it as I need to my daily schedule.


I think it depends on what are the goals and the current job, 3-4 hours of self-dedicated time instead of 1 could make a huge difference in a week.

After working 8 hours a day I go to the gym for minimum 2 hours, 5 days a week.
Relationship "goals" aside, my goals are strength and physique oriented based on my training, I find the time to count the calories and cook myself the meals I need to stay healthy.

As a 28 years old, I'm pretty active and feel a good balance between energy and time/management, but I have to improve on the latter.
I guess the more you grow, the better you manage your time.


It's true. I like your daily schedule. 👍
Yes, time seems to be going by faster as we get older.


YES! I recently started blogging and applying to speak at conferences so after work I usually like to do a little bit of that. I used to come home from work and either go and ride horses or I would sit on the couch and watch TV. Basically, I replaced the TV watching with blogging and writing CFPs. In the end, I honestly don't miss the TV much. I still get to it on the weekends or sneak in an hour after I have done some tech writing.

There are some days though where work was tough and all I want to do is let my brain veg out and do nothing tech related and that is 100% fine! I never try to force myself to write after work if I am not in the mood. I think bc I am pretty loose with my goals and I allow myself to be flexible I enjoy the writing a lot more than if I was forcing myself to get a blog post/week or something along those lines done.


Wow! Impressive! 😃I am also trying to spend less time on TV and more on blogging, vlogging, conferences and self-improving. Keep doing it!


I do my best to make it work especially if I know I have something that I need to focus.

Usually, I just set aside some time to do it during the weekends instead of a weekday. Probably in the next few days of changing my habit to wake up early would allow me to have more time to work on before my usual working routine.


I totally understand you. I am also working on some side projects during the weekends and would be happy to switch to early morning hours to do that.


The short answer would be no but I force myself to do it anyway.

The longer answer is that I know once I get myself started, I will find the energy to continue knowing full well that both areas of my life will benefit from the time spent.

Plus, most of the time, my evenings are when I get to really sit down and either solve a problem or research and learn about it, even when it's a problem for the day job.

When we have full-time jobs, it is easy to get caught in the trap of 'doing the usual daily stuff' and never moving beyond that, this is especially problematic if we decide we want to either move on or start working in a new technology area.

I think as developers, we are always preparing for the next thing, and it seems a lot of the time we have to do that preparation in those 'off hours'.


Thanks a lot for your message! 👍yes, we are ✌️


I don't have much energy once I get home. The cause is twofold for me:

Work itself can be tiring. It's not burdensome though.
What really gets me is the stress of thinking about all the things that I should be learning.

I used to enjoy learning a lot of random tech topics. But now that I think about 'What this could do to my career', topics that I would have enjoyed learning otherwise becomes a chore.

I hope to resolve this soon. Please help/enlighten me!


Honestly the way I work it is if I've had a rough day or things didn't go quite as well as I wanted for the day I find 20-30 minutes after dinner to sit down and work on one of my side projects. Most days I don't do much on them but then there's other days that I can put in 4-5 hours because I get into whatever I'm doing whether it's learning a new language/framework, writing a blog post, or even just tweaking a few things about the apps I've created.

For me it's the drive to learn more about what I'm doing that gives me the energy and the time either comes from when I'd normally be sleeping or in place of my veg-out time after dinner.


Not only does having personal goals keep you sane at work, it can actually help you with work projects. Once I was working on a html game and had to lay out a bunch of tiles. I discovered that the algorithm for that helped me assist a coworker on a bug he had laying out a list of links.


As a new parent this is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. My wife and I both have career goals that we are working towards and each of us have things we need to learn to get to them. We have made sure to communicate our needs to each other for when we are looking to work on those things.
But, sometimes after a long day I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV. Working on things that will take the brain power of learning feels daunting sometimes because I spent the whole day working. I combat this by reminding myself I don't have to study / work for hours at a time to make progress. Even just sitting down for 15-20 minutes can be enough to get something done that gets me closer to my personal goals. Progress is incremental and sometimes those increments are small and that's okay. I'm still working towards my goals and that motivates me to keep going.


My answer 5 yrs ago: hell yeah.

Me now, having 2 kids: not really, maybe in weekends or after everyone is asleep


I don't typically have the energy or time for my personal goals after work, but I have a couple of strategies that still allow me to make progress on them:

  1. I make the best of my long commute! Every morning I have about an hour biking & sitting on the bus before I reach the gym for my before-work workout. This gives me a great opportunity to listen to 20-30mins of a podcast (usually an engineering topic) as I bike, and then practice some French via Duolingo or a Netflix show with French audio for the rest of the trip.
    Every evening my commute home is about 30 minutes by train, so I take that time to slow down and read a technical book. Sometimes it's an engineering topic and other times I read nonfiction (right now I'm reading Stephen Hawking's "The Grand Design").

  2. My manager is extremely pro self-development and goes out of his way to remind me that I can take time out of my day to work on my own goals if they serve to launch me forward in my career. I typically start my work day by reading a couple of French news articles and a couple Dev.to posts before digging into writing code. I also tend to write my own Dev.to posts during the work day as they are often related to whatever I've had on my mind at work that week, and occasionally I'll allocate some time to an online course. I realize not everyone has the freedom to dictate their own day, so I feel very fortunate that I can do this.


Depend on that "full day". If it was a day where I left feeling like it was a day well spent – a day full of accomplishments or otherwise seeing efforts pay off – then, yeah, usually have plenty of energy. If was one of those (all too frequent) days where I ask "why do I work for this customer" or "why did I let myself get into this field", then I'm usually too demoralized and energy-sapped to do anything when I come home, let alone pursue personal goals.


Since we have our son, my me-time at home decreased, but at the same time the productivity increased in the time I have left.

I got less tolerant of time-wasters (like bad books/games/tv-shows, social-media) and I got better at baking learning into my day-job that I would have done at home.

When travelling for work I stopped flying but go everywhere by train, which introduces lots of hours of undisturbed time for reading and learning.

I started to aim for a humane 8 hrs sleep each night, which helps with the energy you need for all this activity. Again, less free time, but the quality of the available time increases.


It depends on what I've planned and how my work day went. If my brain is mush by the time I get home, I probably won't do much in the evening. On other days I'll take a short break after work for dinner and jump into a personal dev project or working on my home improvements or something. I have a pretty busy schedule with two D&D games and a girlfriend (which frequently overlap!) but I still carve out personal time. What I do with that time and how productive I am depends on the day. Hopefully that makes sense.


It is tough, but I have managed to be able to include a gym session and work on two of my personal goals every day. I setup daily reminders and have a kanban board with the weekly tasks that work towards my personal goals(better dev, better professional, read book, etc..). I've embraced Pomodoro, meaning that I spend 25 mins. per task. On Sunday nights I spend some time reviewing all the awesome things I achieved in the week and reset everything.


For me personally, 2 hours a day and a weekend is really enough for personal goals, since I come back home from work at around 7pm, taking care of the usual chores will leave me at around 9pm, from there till 11 or maybe midnight if the need arises will be all for my side goals.
And currently, that goal is a pvp ranker in an mmo, it's still the same "setting in front my lappy" thing, but I do consider it a side goal and a big stress reliever from my daily job.


As for my personal experience, three main things I'm trying to do;

  1. First, keep your personal goals in smaller pieces as much as possible. Being smaller in size is helping more than being fewer in count. At least you can start even if it's a small step to your goals!

  2. Second, do not let them stay in your mind only. Write them down. Ideas disappear but text stays!

  3. Finally, just track them. When one is down, you feel your motivation is up for one tick!


It's not easy to have motivation/energy to work on a side project or do anything after a long day of work

I think this is why extrinsic motivation in the form of an extra paycheck exists.

In the case of open source, the intrinsic motivations of perfecting your craft or getting rep points for creating something useful to the community can give a nice boost of energy.

In your case, you're really better off just focusing on your startup and using whatever freelance time you need to keep re-investing into the startup. Most developers only have a full-time job and are not working on a product/service/business that they have a large stake in.


In a phased cycle. I currently work on-premise for a client 38.5h/wk plus 2h of commute each day. After that I usually spend some time with my lovely fiancée and then have dinner with the parents.

Then from 8pm-12am I spend my time doing various things in a rotation:

During November and December however I did absolutely nothing, so this schedule is still very new to me. It seems to work quite well, though, because after a month of keeping it up I still feel fresh when I go to work after work.

Also so far my effort in all of these areas has proven quite valuable in terms of growing a followership and getting my name out there. Which is good for when this contract ends. And I guess this is where I pull the energy. A constant cycle of fresh things followed by validation. :)


A clear ROI (writing an article for a few bucks about technology) or intrinsic feeling of getting better at my craft give me more energy and then I make the time.

If you're cranking through JIRA tickets all day at your day job, I can understand how it would be exhausting to work on personal goals afterward.


Most of the time, yes. If you like the project you work on, It makes it easy to have time working on it after you got home.

I am just trying to have at least 1 hour each day and trying to be persistent. I got lots of things to learn and practice and that's my solution for this problem.
Hope my answer helped you!


sometimes yes, but sometimes life and more important things take precedence. If the motivation is there and certain things are taken care of, I usually feel like I can put enough time into the side project after work to make it worth it. In my case it's usually music-related or working on my one open source project.


Got the time, not the energy...


Since when do you work in this way? How much do you sleep with this schedule?


No. Because after work I'm going to the GYM. Even If I don't go, I haven't any energy and why I don't know :/


If I had to answer in one word, No. However this is also super complicated question and highly depends on office hours / setting and responsibilities outside of the office.

As for myself ( < 1 yr full time dev ) at first after office hours I tried to read and watch coding related stuff every day to improve my skills, however then I realised that I was getting super exhausted, so I switched to sports after office hours, which is working better.

However learning part is still important and I am currently struggling with forming new habit to do more coding and learning outside of the office hours. Occasional couple of hours in weekends happen, but I am determined to take steps forward and writing this post is a tiny part of it. I will do my best to be on Yes boat next time this question is answered.


For me I took about 6 months off of coding outside of work after I got my first developer role. I had been working 12-16 hour days between my job and my internship that once everything settled down to a normal 8 hour day I needed time to recover.

Now I mostly set aside 1/2 nights a week to work on side projects/freelance and spend the rest of my free time with my wife and kids. I have found that doing this helps me maintain a balance and keeps me from hyper-focusing(darn ADHD) on just doing dev work all the time.

I will say though that if you feel that you are tired all the time then look at your sleep/diet/exercise. I used to be tired all the time and found out I had sleep apnea so even thought I was sleeping 7-8 hours a night I was only getting the equivalent of 5 hours. Once I got my CPAP machine and started using it regularly my 8 hours where 8 hours and I feel like an entirely different person.

Hope this helps give some perspective!


Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Usually it depends on what I'm doing with the personal projects. If it's something new and exciting, I'm much more likely to continue working after my day job.

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