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Is it important to have hobbies outside of coding?

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I've always been a strong advocate of people having hobbies outside of coding. For me it's music, for others I've known it has been anything from crochet to climbing.

Personally I find it helpful to be able to switch off, unwind, and think about something different for a while. Equally it's something else to talk about outside of tech (particularly with clients), and, on one occasion, something actually came in use during a project.

So, is it important to have a hobby that isn't coding?

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Personally, yes. When I spend time doing other things -- sport, guitar, writing -- it's a breather from code. It's also nice to do something just for the enjoyment of it, rather than with any goal in mind.

The different perspective is good. Life isn't just about code.

That said, I sometimes feel guilty about not coding more. After all, I'm likely falling behind, right? I suspect that's something that a lot of us suffer from.

 

The guilt is real. Quite often I feel that I should be doing more in my spare time but work is so manic I know I'll just burnout super quick if I do.

 

Exactly. Whereas a hobby should have the opposite effect.

 

Yes, absolutely!

It's important to get out of your head. Spending all day, every day working on code will deteriorate your health, social skills, and overall happiness.

If your entire life revolves around tech. And you spend all day, every day working on tech. What happens if you burn out and need a break away from tech?

IMO, this is the reason why a lot of Devs exit the industry permanently. Recovering from burnout is difficult enough even when everything in life doesn't revolve around the thing you're trying to take a break from.

 

Sometimes. It depends on where I'm at in life.

When I have a side project going or I'm trying to learn new skill, I put all the energy I can into coding.

But I can't keep that pace forever and I think you're right that it's helpful to shift focus to something like music.

 

Yeah I can get that. The nice part is when a side project is born out of a hobby, gives it a real purpose and you've already got your first user!

 

100% it's important! You need to have SOMETHING to get your mind off code/tech, and it's so nice to turn off that side of your brain and focus on something else.

I have many hobbies aside from code. Some might say too many. :P

 

Yeah for sure!
Just taking a break from everything and doing something else (I like to read, take pictures, write books etc.) really helps. Not only does it improve focus, it's much better for your life socially!

 

It doesn't work for me - no matter what interests I take up, I end up writing code to solve some problem I encounter there. You mention Music, and for me that has been the worst of any hobby for this. I bought Ableton Live (a digital audio workstation), and discovered it comes with it's own programming language, call Max For Live. Don't get me wrong, its loads of fun, but its definitely a rabbit hole!

It could also be that I'm just not very good at "switching off". I find it just leads to a kind of mental restlessness, that is anything but relaxing.

What does work for me is to have a problem of my own to work on - without time/budget pressures, or having to deal team dynamics.

 

Ah yes, I fell down the Web MIDI rabbit hole not too long ago...

I quite like that hobbies generate problems for you to solve, it at least gives side projects a goal and makes them a little more interesting.

 

Yes! Everyone should have a hobby outside of programming and one of those hobbies should be astronomy. This is an objective fact :)

 

I have to confess I have a telescope collecting dust in my attic from a brief interest in astronomy!

 
 

Interestingly before going to University and moving on to doing it full-time, my hobby was coding.

 

Frankly, I think it's critical.
A real example: I once solved a circuit design problem by looking at the strokes of paint left by my brush.

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Jacob Baker profile image
lead developer // mentor & lecturer // pizza devourer