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FITNESS & MENTAL HEALTH

When I was in high school I had a great math teacher. He told us once that the brain is just like any other muscle in your body. It can handle heavy exercise but it gets tired, and as it becomes older, it will slow down and eventually expire. Just like you take care of your back, your feet, your elbows, you need to take care of your brain and mind.
You need to practice mental health & fitness. They both go together.

During your career and family life you will run into road blocks that sometimes seen unsurpassable. If that ever happens to you hitting the wall over and over again will not make a difference. It is my personal experience that taking a break or sleeping over a problem will eventually find a solution.
Many of my biggest ideas came from 4-6 AM. My brain would just wake me up and tell me the solution.

Frustrations are part of Internet Engineering. We live in an industry that is advancing at light speed. Products like software engineering IDEs, tools, controls, databases, web servers are no different from any other product in any other industry.

Any industry that is involved in a “fast” paced environment that delivers products not based on quality but instead on strategic competition will suffer from product defects. Furthermore, the world has never seen the fast paced environment like the software or Internet industry is capable of delivering.
It is the first time in our history that entire fortunes are built on intangible assets. If you really think about it, most web sites are virtual goods.

So I made a set of rules to deal with the fact that I am working with tools that are not really finished, and will require service packs for the duration of the product. And many times will be phased out without ever working properly.

My rules are to protect my mental health:
1. Don’t suffer. It is not your fault that the product does not work the way it’s supposed too. Find a workaround or get support.
2. Make daily backups. Crap happens all the time. Be prepared to lose it all every day.
3. If run into a wall, work on something else. Don’t aggravate yourself. Take a break and come back later
4. Code samples. Keep them handy. There is no need to be a mad scientist. If someone else has figure out how to do something, then use it. And share your experience. Humans working together have always been stronger.
5. Chaos is good for you. Get a pet or get kids. A lot of Internet Engineers become caveman and forget that the world exists. Remember you work for a living, you don’t live to work. Get a life!
6. Internet Development is like being a mechanic. First, the mechanic has to figure out what the problem is, and then he fixes it. When I am figuring out what to do, I need peace and quiet. But when I am coding, I crank up the volume. Get the music you love and “enjoy coding”.
7. If you don’t enjoy coding you are in the wrong career. Get out while you can…..
8. Never debug yourself. Always get a fresh set of eyes to look at your work. After looking at the page for several days or weeks you become entranced and will never see what others see.
9. Always get a none technical person to criticize your site. You never know what regular people think. They are so different from us, it is scary.
10. Never remember anything. Always right down everything. Right down your tasks and problems. Stress is caused by your mind constantly trying to remember all your problems or tasks. If you write down everything and prioritize them on paper the stress will go away.
11. Don’t read when you go home. If you really think about it, we are professional readers and writers. The only problem is that we read and write dull books. Let your eyes and mind rest.
12. Find documentation and training on video. The days of the book are almost over. Training is moving to video. Visit Lynda.com and many others like it.
13. Unless you get paid for technical support or have no choice, don’t try to find out why something does not work the way it’s supposed to. Your job is to deliver a product that has requirements and rules. If you don’t break the requirements and all rules are in accordance, then your work is done. Many people get distracted for hours and sometimes days figuring out why something does not work. They forget what they were trying to accomplish in the first place.
14. We are not the slaves to computers; always remember that computers were invented to make our lives easier. You should never forget this.
15. Many technical people claim they are on vacation but never get disconnected. Force yourself to take a vacation where cell phones, laptops, and Internet don’t work. The Appalachian Trail is one of them, and many South American countries with terrible facilities. Remember that a vacation is meant to rest your mind, not just your body.
16. Get a hobby. It is an excellent strategy to get distracted once you leave work. Your mind will come back the next fresh and exited to start again. Learn how to cook, or get into gardening. Leave technology completely out of the picture unless you are doing video or digital music.
17. Become an Interesting person. Learn something new that will make you “unique”. Learn a new language, take history lessons, wine tasting, coin collecting, treasure hunting, snorkeling, become a pilot. You only live once. Don’t waste the opportunities that life has to offer.
18. Some of the best code I have ever written was from 10pm-4AM. This is a known fact amongst Internet Engineers and programmers in general. So I made a schedule that will allow me to work late at night some days, and some days I will wake up early to go on bike rides, hiking, swimming, and family time. Remember you are looking for “balance”.
19. Ask yourself if you are happy or just content everyday of your life. This has to be the highest priorities in your life unless you have kids. If you are not happy and just content find out why. Set goals to be happy, not just content.
20. Think of code as art. I enjoy coding the most when my code looks good on the screen. I like how it flows on the screen. I like the fact that the colors scheme matches, I enjoy coding because my code looks good. I am an artist not a dull programmer.
21. Clear your desk. Having a messy desk will distract you.
22. Place nice pictures and art around you. Having a nice environment around you will make you feel better and your mind instinctually will look forward to coming back
23. Get good light. Many offices use sealing lighting that will tire your eyes. Turn them off or disconnect your section and get a good desk light. If you can’t turn them off wear a hat that will block the light.


Fitness plays an important role into the performance of any athlete. Any Internet Engineer is a mental athlete. You get paid to think. In many ways Internet Engineers are just like professional athletes. Your fitness will impact your performance directly. Any doctor will tell you that if you are in shape your bloodstream is full of oxygen; oxygen that will reach your brain. This is common knowledge. The better you feel, the better you will deliver and perform.

Here are some good rules to practice
1. Join a sports club. Cycling is an excellent choice as injuries are unlikely. Setup goals, cycling competitions, triathlons, leagues, swimming events, etc. Joining a club will not only enrich your social life, but you will be compelled to perform and push your limits.
2. Take care of your eyes. Looking at screens all day will take a toll on your eyes. Refresh your puffy eyes by using natural remedies like cucumbers and potatoes. Please consult with your doctor first. http://www.natural-homeremedies.org/blog/home-remedy-for-puffy-eyes/
3. Take none thinking breaks. In other words don’t use your mind when you can. Your brain is a muscle. It will get tired if it’s used all day long.
4. Yoga and stretching. You will live longer and healthier if you make stretching part of your daily routine. As you get older your muscles and bones will contract. Stretching is key to avoid major injuries in the future.
5. Eat healthy. I love junk food, but I perform better when I am not sleepy after a heavy meal. Try to eat 4-6 times a day to avoid that feeling.
6. Some progressive companies allow naps. Take advantage of them. They are known to be a great asset for programmers.
7. If you work from home invest into a nice chair, monitor, keyboard and mice. Protect your hands, your back, and your eyes by providing them with the best equipment available.
8. Get your body in shape. Looking good at work will enhance your chances for promotion. You would think that technical ability alone should be enough, but it’s not. Many managers who are not technical will look for other things.
9. Avoid using calculators. Math calculations using your brain will keep you sharp.

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