Where's the balance with programming?

Well, it's been week two with my nice little VPS, and it's working like a charm. I'm loving this system. I've been playing around with it, tweaking it to squeeze a bit more out of the limited RAM I have, or just to learn new things I haven't tried before, like setting up DNS (rather easy) or Sendmail (talk about a pain in the ass). It's certainly been a blast setting up everything, and that's probably the geekiest thing anyone could say.

In any case, I've been wanting to sit down all week and try to finish my Rails project that I have about 75 completed (although I've had so many new and cool ideas, I'm considering starting again from scratch), and I just haven't been able to do it. The time is seriously lacking with my 8-to-5 job, and it's frustrating. I want to learn so much, but can't do much, other than read the latest news and that's it.

I'm still trying to strike a balance between learning and getting some programming, and doing other things. Right now, I've been busy having fun with some of my co-workers, as well as some old friends I hadn't seen in a while. If I wanted to learn programming, that means killing part - or all - of my social life. While I consider myself an introvert, I still enjoy the company of close friends, and I wouldn't want to neglect them, as I have before in the past.

So right now, if I want to seriously start learning new things, I'm going to have to either cut ties with some friends and stop hanging out with them frequently, risking that they just ditch me whenever they go out, or just sleep less and code more. I know some people who can function well with just two or three hours of sleep. I'm not one of them. I need at least seven hours of sleep, or else I'll most likely be moody the next day due to a nasty headache that just won't quit.

I'm also afraid of getting into the habit of drinking highly-caffeinated drinks. I think I drink a lot more Red Bull than the average person, but I don't do it every day to avoid creating a dependency on them. It happened once with Mountain Dew (where I drank two every morning before 9:00 AM, and once I stopped, the morning headaches started). It's scary to think about creating an unhealthy habit, like any drug addict would.

So, how do people do it? I'm really curious. I want to create some study habits that will continue no matter what I want to learn, but I don't want to sacrifice something that I know I will miss in the future (like my friends or my health). Does anyone have any tips on study habits? Does it cut into time you can spend with friends and family? Do you barely sleep? I hope I can get right on track in the upcoming months, and be the coding-maching I know I can be.

Written by

Dennis Martinez

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