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The Time I Coded For Five Days Straight With No Sleep

image of staying up for five straight daysThis may sound crazy, but it happened; I sat at my computer coding for five days without moving apart from going to the bathroom and grabbing some food. A client that I often work for wanted a complicated mobile app created for iOS that was then to be developed into a cross-platform app, and he needed it done fast. I accepted the task as I didn’t have many other things to do, and I was feeling ready for a new challenge.

Hey guys, interesting news. It turns out intelligent people love staying up late!

Getting Started

When he told me he needed it as soon as possible, I didn’t realise how much work it needed in such little time. I sat for the first day and got to work, and then I hit some complications with the programming language and got so frustrated I just scrapped it all and started again. I decided then that I would not leave my computer until I had sorted this app.

image of staying up for days in a rowHitting Complications

With technical apps like the one, I was creating there were bound to be some difficulties. I had lots of problems with the functionality and only by the third day did it start to come together. I had to keep testing it constantly to see how it was all working and making sure both the front and back ends were right. On the third day when the sun started to rise, I felt a bit light-headed and dizzy, but at the same time I just couldn’t give up and was so focused on getting this sorted.

Finally Finishing

When it got to the fourth day, I was so nearly finished but there were just a few things to clear up. A couple of them were so adamant not to change, and it was so exasperating. I tried all day and then at night I had to speak to a couple of my programmer friends online. They kept trying with me, giving me tips and advice and finally about 5am we manage to fix everything, Hallelujah. It finally sank in that I was finished, and I was so relieved. I triple-checked everything and sent it all over to the client, and when I heard back from him at about 7am, I finally went to bed.

How I Survived

Of course, the two things that kept me going were coffee and energy drinks. I called a friend on the second day to bring me supplies as I was working my butt off on a project and needed food and drink to keep me alive. I am used to staying up all night anyway. I have not slept for two days loads of times before, but this time it was extreme, and I definitely wouldn’t do it again or recommend it to anyone else.

My body kept telling me to go to bed but my brain was focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, and I just couldn’t pull myself away. I made sure I kept eating and drinking and somehow I managed to do it in 5 days. I got a huge bonus from the client who was happy with the app and then I think I slept for about 20 hours. The next week I was in a weird sleep zone and felt like a zombie but after that I was cool, and I am totally glad I did it once for the experience.

Best Places to Learn Code Online

image of best places to code online 1Learning programming languages is not like it used to be and is now very easy to teach yourself by using online interactive sites. When I was still learning the basics, there were very few opportunities online that helped you to get to grips with coding and the ones I did find were difficult and frustrating to use. Now there are loads, and they are detailed, explaining everything you need to know to learn and master programming languages without too much effort. I think everyone has the potential to try coding, and if you can handle it, you will grow to love it.

Even I sometimes check online for tips when I am confused with something. There are lots of professionals out there that are sharing their knowledge with advice, screen casts and best practices. Choose from these great sites that provide interactive lessons on learning languages such as HTML, Ruby, CSS, PHP, iOS and much more.

Fun fact: Learning to code late at night is better than doing it during the daytime. Just kidding. That’s only my opinion.

Codecademy

This has to be the most well-known site that teaches code interactively, as they have well thought-out courses and an easy to use interface. Each lesson is motivating, and they have loads of different courses from JavaScript to APIs, Python and Web Fundamentals. It is simple to get started and once you begin you won’t want to stop. As you watch each lesson, there are two panels, one explaining the instructions and necessary code needed for what you are learning and the other allowing you to try it out yourself. Try out some code on your own and then check it to see if it is correct. We all make mistakes at first so don’t stress, plus the panels will show you any mistakes and provide hints for staying on the right path. In my opinion this style of teaching is perfect; there is a mix of watching and trying yourself which is needed to stay interested and focused.

Learn Street

Learn Street is a great choice for those serious about getting started with code, and it’s free which makes it even better. With beginner levels on Ruby, Python, and JavaScript, the courses include exercises, a code interpreter and a glossary panel for adding new terms.

Code Avengers

I love this website as it has been totally designed for those who love programming and those who will learn to love it. There are only a limited number of courses including HTML5, CCS3, and JavaScript, but each lesson contains every detail and is very enjoyable. The courses are designed to be both entertaining and educational at the same time; you will be learning programming skills while having fun, and a reward at the end of each lesson is a mini game. Each course is taken slowly and information is fed bit by bit. All at once which can be overwhelming, then each time you learn something new you get the chance to try it out and see for yourself what it does. A perfect choice for beginners that are a bit wary.

Code School

Code school is the next step once you have finished some beginner’s courses on one of the above sites. When you feel ready to expand your skills and knowledge, here is the place to go. The courses offered here are much more detailed, and you can gain a lot more experience. Most courses are free, but some require a monthly fee to access everything, every course has lots of information and challenges to try out that can be difficult at first but have hints to help out.

Tree House

This is where to go when you have a plan or purpose in mind, rather than teaching program languages it is more focused on certain projects such as building an app or website. There are lots of different choices depending on what you want to know. If you want to build a website choose from an interactive site, WordPress theme or responsive site, or whatever your website idea is you should find the related course. Watch and learn from the lessons then test your new skills in a quiz to see how much you remembered. Tree House is perfect for people that don’t want to learn code completely, just certain parts that will help them along the way.

Why I Like Working Late At Night

image of working late at night 1There are many reasons why I like working through the night, it just seems to be the time when my brain switches on, and I am more productive. I have found myself a good cycle where I sleep in the early hours of the morning and wake up in the afternoon. It works great for me and I can get lots done during my ‘days’.

Not sure why, but FastCompany says that working late at night is bad for your brain. I’ll stick to my plan; thanks FastCompany.

Daylight Doesn’t Work For Me

One of the main reasons I like working at night is during the day I can’t focus due to the light. First the computer screen goes weird in bright light and second, my brain can’t seem to function when the sun is blaring through the windows. Ok, so I do have blinds but they aren’t the best, and the light still filters through.

image of working late at night 2Noise

Throughout the day and even in the evening there is a lot of noise outside as the world goes by, and I get distracted easily. Car horns and people shouting make my thought patterns stop and I get frustrated because I can’t concentrate on what I am doing. After around 9pm, everything starts to get quieter, and I can begin my work properly, and then the hours seem to fly by, I get loads done and suddenly its 4am.

Other People Are Online

Another great thing about working late at night is most of the people I know are online. Many programmers like myself also work late at night for the same reasons, so when we can always ask each other advice and questions about the coding we are doing. I like knowing so many other programmers online because we can show each other new skills and tricks, and we all get to learn new things. I think we all like working through the night because it is more relaxing and seems like a long time without restrictions. So we can just carry on doing what we love all night, every night.

People are always telling me it’s really bad to go to bed really late and wake up so late, that people are more productive and healthier when they wake up at like 7am every day. I have tried it before though, and it is just not for me, I know that I work best through the night, so that is how I plan my routine. I do sometimes mess up my routine when I carry on working through the night until the sun starts rising; sometimes I don’t want to stop because the code is flowing, and I’m on a roll. Then my sleep gets all messed up, and I wake up late, so I have to try and set alarms, so I wake up at least before sunset. Then I can eat my breakfast, plan what work I have to do, and get going as soon as I am ready. What’s most important is how much I can get done and that just seems to be best when I work through the night.

And I don’t have to talk to people in person. I’ve already blogged about why I hate talking sports to people.

Why I Can’t Talk Sports to Anyone

image of why talking sports is so hard 1I know for most men sports is a big part of their life and most conversations revolve around what is happening in the world of baseball, football, soccer, basketball, golf etc. Sports however just don’t seem to interest me and never have done. There have been certain times where I feel alienated from other guys and our culture in general because sport just means nothing to me. I have other interests that I prefer to take up my time; coding and computers get me excited, angry, energized and passionate just like some men feel with sports. I don’t feel like I should pretend to be interested and waste my time watching sports just to fit in.

Not to mention talking sports, I can’t even get myself to exercise or do anything sports related.

Growing Up in a Sports-Oriented Society

Sports are a very prominent institution in our culture and especially where I grew up. Almost every other male in my high school played in a sports team of some sort and it was all everyone ever talked about. My dad was never really in to any sports other than hiking and fishing, so he never influenced me in that way. At school I hated gym class but I would just try and get through it as best I could until it was over. Spending time with other kids at school was a bit uncomfortable for me because 90% of the conversation was about who was picked for the team and who beat who in the game last night. I didn’t really get bullied but I was definitely a ‘nerd’, I would prefer to study and use the school computers than run around the football field looking all macho.

image of not talking sports

That’s my Dad!

My Friends and Family

With my parents, the fact that I prefer to talk about anything other than sports is fine as sports is not really a part of their life either and we can find much more interesting subjects to talk about. With my friends, it did used to be a problem but those closest to me have similar interests so we usually spend our time talking about new software, technology and programming. I do have a few guys that are old friends that love sports, mainly soccer and baseball. When we meet up they try to avoid the topic as they know it bores me, but a lot of the time they can’t help themselves and I totally understand so don’t hold it against them. It is their passion just like coding is mine, so I just let them get on with it, smiling and nodding until the subject is changed.

Meeting New People

The toughest time for me is when I meet new people and talking to strangers. Most people would assume that all young men like myself would be really into some kind of sport, and they start asking me all kinds of questions about teams and people I have no idea about. I find it slightly awkward and embarrassing and just have to tell them that I don’t really follow any sports, my interests are more with gadgets, technology and software. When I tell people my passion is coding most of them look at me with a frown that means they have no idea what I am talking about, so I try to fluff it up a bit and make it sound a bit more general. In these situations I do feel a bit embarrassed and think maybe I should have more interest in sports like most other men in the country, but then later I think to myself no, I am proud of who I am and what I do.

Why Coding Keeps Me from Exercising

image of how i cant exercise 1I spend almost every single day of my life on my computer coding. I know it seems a bit depressing but for me it’s not, coding is the one thing that makes me happy and keeps me motivated. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the great outdoors, I just prefer to spend my days programming because I always feel like I have something to solve and something to achieve. I hardly ever exercise, I know I should but I don’t find the time, and I always have something more important that needs to be done.

My Body Type

I guess I am pretty lucky because no matter what I eat I always stay skinny; I must have one of those fast metabolisms where I never put on weight. When I was younger I wished that I wasn’t so skinny, and I could build up some muscle. I started lifting bottles full of sand and tinned food I found in the kitchen everyday hoping that it could make a difference. After a couple of months, my arms still looked the same, so I gave up. As I get older though, I do think my metabolism will slow down, and I won’t be able to keep eating what I eat and stay thin without exercise.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I do think about it often and know that it is bad. I hardly move my body, but when I wake up in the morning all I can think about is the new and exciting coding projects I have to play with. I spend all day and night on the computer; it’s like an addiction, and I can’t seem to drag myself away. The hours seem to fly past when I’m programming, suddenly it’s the early hours of the morning and I feel like I just sat down. Sometimes I forget to have meals at the right times because I am so caught up in the computer, so finding time to exercise seems impossible.

image of a coder who cant exercise 1“Dexter, You Have to MOVE”

The people close to me are constantly telling me to get out, enjoy being in the fresh air and do at least some form of exercise. When I still lived at home, my mom would only cook healthy meals and would make me run up and down the stairs to get them. My parents would try and get me to go hiking with them on the weekends, but I would always be too busy with finishing off coding projects and trying to improve my skills. A couple of my friends are into soccer and used to try and get me to come and play, they soon gave up asking as they know I won’t come. Now I have my apartment; there are no stairs to run up and down apart from when I go out to get groceries. About once a week I go out to get supplies that will last me for the week. I try to power walk there and back, so I know at least I have done a mini-workout at least a few times a month.

Future

It is always in the back of my mind, and I know it is not doing my body any good constantly sitting on the computer. I have been thinking about getting an exercise bike or something similar for my apartment. Then when I am feeling frustrated with some complicated coding I can let out the stress with some really loud music and a ten or fifteen minute ride.