Stay healthy and keep coding

Do you play, work and learn using a computer? The way you use a computer may be harmful to your health. It can affect your posture, hands and more. When using a computer becomes painful, it can change how you use it. You may think that you need to stop programming.

Stay Healthy and Keep Coding
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

To prevent that, you can focus on these 5 ways to stay healthy and keep coding.

How's your posture?

When you are coding you can get into the flow and forget about maintaining your posture. Check the way you sit or type periodically. If you need a reminder, have your computer remind you a couple times during the day.

Take regular breaks

Both your brain and body benefit from regular breaks. Depending on how you work, you many need to take a break every 45 to 90 minutes. One technique Pomodoro has you taking a 5 minute break every 25 minutes.

Optimize your workspace

When you work at a computer all day, it should suit your needs. Customize your computer to work for you. Try different type of setups. A new keyboard, mouse, chair or even a standing desk.

Move more

Moving can help you think better. Stuck on a problem, go for a walk. Find an exercise that you like to do and schedule it. By making it an appointment, your more likely to do it. Don't want to exercise alone? Get a buddy to exercise with. A buddy can help make exercise fun and make you stick to it so you don't disappoint them.

Eat better

Do you know what you are drinking and eating? Most people when they get busy or into the flow reach for what is easy and available. They don't pay attention to what they eat or drink. What can you do to optimize your eating habits? Make small changes. Swap out your afternoon snack with a fruit or vegetable snack that you enjoy. Buy a water bottle that helps you to drink more water during the day.

Want to increase your productivity as a programmer? You need to optimize the way you take care of yourself and develop a plan for staying healthy. The Healthy Programmer can help you change your work habits.

Moving to Markdown

What is your writing process? Whether you write a blog or technical documentation, you need to have a process. Not just a writing process, but a process for getting your work in a format that can be published on the web. My process is writing, converting to hypertext and publishing. It works, but it can be cumbersome adding the html code to my writing. What can I use instead? Markdown.

Moving to Markdown
Photo by: Free-Photos

What is Markdown?

Markdown is a way to write for the web. It is text to html conversion tool. The goal was to make it as readable as possible without looking like it was marked up with a bunch of formatting code. This simple system was created by John Gruber.

When you write HTML, it can get very complicated looking with the tags and extra formating:
HTML Code Screenshot

With Markdown, it looks much simpler:
Markdown screenshot

Changing your writing process

Markdown is easy to learn. The syntax is very simple. In five minutes or so, you can start writing in Markdown. You can use either a text editor or an app for Markdown.

What if you don’t want to use a special app? You can install it in IDEs like Atom or Visual Studio. With an IDE like Atom, you can use the preview mode to see how it will look in a browser before you publish your writing.

Want to get started learning Markdown? Start with this Markdown tutorial. It goes through each concept one lesson at a time. You can also use this cheatsheet to look up how do write Markdown.

Using Trello For Your Projects

What tools do you use to manage your projects? Do you track them using lists, a bullet journal or a project management tool like Trello? With Trello, you can create a meal planner, a weekly to-do list, manage clients and development projects. You create as many board, cards and lists as you need.

Using Trello For Your Projects
Photo by: RawPixel

With all of this flexibility, it can be a challenge to figure out how to best work with Trello. Use the following tips to make this project management tool work for both your personal and professional projects.

1. Create a projects board

If you are like most people, you may have more than one project to keep track of. A projects board can help you to plan which projects that you want to work on next. Some people like to plan the next six months or year out. Use this board to provide on overview of what you are working on.

2. Make one board for each project

It may be tempting to place all projects on one board. You may find that it grows rather quickly and becomes hard to manage. A single board for each project keeps things simpler and cleaner.

3. Create as many lists as you need

Trello is based on the Kanban method, which starts with three lists: To-Do, Doing and Done. For some projects, these three lists are all you need. For other project, you are going to need more. Make as many as you need.

4. Give your labels meaningful names

Trello provides different colored labels with no names. It is up to you to decide what they mean. You can use these labels to help manage your tasks. For example, you may use red for Stopped or Blocked tasks, yellow for waiting and orange for annoying issues.

5.Use the inspiration boards

Why create a board from scratch? Trello has a public library of boards that others have created and are available for you to use. Use one these boards to get started on your next project.

Looking for more tips and inspiration on how to use Trello?

Trello’s blog has helpful tips and tutorials on using this project management tool more productively and creatively.

Getting Started with a Design System

When your website is small, you can use design tools like sketches, sitemap and color schemes to create a consistent and cohesive look and feel. What happens as your team and website grows? How do you keep your website design and functionality from being a mess? You may start out by creating a design style guide or building a pattern library. Eventually, you’ll need something more. A tool like a design system.

Getting Started with a Design System
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

What is a design system?

A Design System is a documented library of colors, fonts, buttons, components, visual elements and other design features that helps to create a consistent user experience. It is more than a style guide or a pattern library. A style guide focuses on the design or look and feel. Pattern libraries focus on building and providing a consistent code base. Your design system pulls both the style guide and pattern library into a single, documented system for your entire team to use.

Examples of Design Systems

How do I build my own design system?

Start with the tools that you know. You can build your own using a CMS that you are familiar with. To get started, you can look at Brad Frost’s Design System Boilerplate. You can use the boilerplate as a starting guide for building your own system. Next, review and document your visual elements, design features and other components that make your user experience unique.

When you build your own, start small and build as you go. Remember, the best solution is the one that you and your team uses. Refer to these tools and resources to learn more about how to build a design system:

Finding time to work on side projects

You have different responsibilities: a job or business, family and yourself. These responsibilities can leave you with little time to spend on things that you are passionate about. Whether you choose to work on a side project or a hobby, how do you find the time?

finding time for side projects
Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Schedule it

Why schedule it? You may have different things that you want to accomplish including your side project. By scheduling it, you make it a priority. If it is on your schedule, you are more likely to do it and less likely to shove it aside for something else.

How much time to you give your project? Your other priorities like family time, hobbies and taking care of yourself will help you to determine how much time to devote to your project. Even if you have 15 minutes per day, you can get closer to finishing your project in small increments.

Use Planning Tools

Plans, goals, To-do lists, bullet journals or a chalkboard can help you keep your side projects on track. No matter what productivity tools that you decide on, they’ll help you on track.

Know When To Stop

Should you stop? A side project should be fun. You should learn something new and enjoy doing it. If your enjoyment is dwindling and you dread doing it, quit working on the project. You can always start something new.

Take Breaks

Sometimes you may need a break. You take days off from work to relax or enjoy a holiday. If you need a break, take it. Your side project should not be another job that you create for yourself. It should be something that you want to do.

Finding time for side projects

Side projects should be something that you want to do. It should let you explore new ideas, be creative and find out if you have a passion for it. When you decide to work on a side project, you can be more successful by:

  • Adding time it to your schedule to work on your project
  • Use planning tools to help you track and complete your project
  • Know when to stop working on a project that no longer interests you
  • Take a break when you need it