Exactly one year ago today I posted about “mind share” and how I was going to “punch out” of the tech world and enter fully into my home life with my full attention. Well, it has gone pretty well. There is definitely a correlation between programming too much and mind share issues. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to recognize when I’ve been pushing too hard, and deliberately let go of the things I don’t have time for.
Here are a few thoughts about what has worked for me and what has not in my ever elusive quest for work life balance.
Things that worked:
- Early mornings:
I have been reading and working on projects by getting up really early in the morning. Working early in the morning has several benefits for me. 1) It is a natural time box that I can’t easily lengthen since I need to get ready for work eventually. 2) My mind is fresh and doesn’t feel tired like it can later in the evening. 3) I’m not taking away from time with anybody else (they are all still sleeping).
- Family projects:
My wife and I worked on a project together. It is a website that helps her keep track of things she buys in bulk to better understand which of those things are making her money and which are not worth the investment. This was fun because it was something we could work on in the evening but it wasn’t taking time away from us being together. It also was different than when I worked on a project by myself because now we were both thinking about the same thing, so if I had an idea for Homestore Lane (http://homestorelane.com) it was something we could talk about, unlike if it was some project she was not interested in.
Things that didn’t work so well:
- One night per week to work on projects:
There are several reasons I don’t think this worked very well for me. 1) I was already mentally tired by the time I started on my projects. 2) It was hard to unwind and go to sleep after programming late into the night. 3) It was hard to get back into things after waiting for the whole week (or sometimes longer since it was easy to skip a week).
- Trying harder to compartmentalize:
It wasn’t mind over matter for me. I had to stop trying to do so much before I noticed the difference in my attention span and my engagement in my home life. Even though I would tell myself to stop thinking about projects, my brain just could not unwind enough because it was too tired (or engaged, or ?).
I’m going to stick with the morning thing and maybe some more family projects and see how it goes. If there is anything else along these lines I am sure I will blog about them next year. Or the year after, maybe. (I am already staying up too late to write this, so what am I doing? Time to stop.)