Over the past several years I've had the privilege of being able to throw bits for some seriously amazing companies. Often time the unspoken mindset was that you were to work until the task is done or that more hours meant more code (good or bad). The idea is that if we focus on the tasks and work we will inevitably achieve our goals and everyone will be happy. I remember working some really long weeks hitting the "goal" but not feeling very happy.
Here's a challenge for all devs who can relate to what I am saying above :
Go for work-life awesome not work life balance.
I believe that there is no such thing as "work-life balance" or at least the phrase implies something that cannot be. Balance assumes equality on both sides. The fact is that work and life are not faucets we can turn off and walk away from, so instead of becoming frustrated at trying to compartmentalize we should try to make these aspects of our lives more congruent. Work should fit into our lives not go against it - more like velcro and less like sandpaper.
The following are some tools, books and resources I use daily to help me with the whole nerd life balance thing - They work for me; I hope they will help you.
If you have 30 minutes take some time to watch the talk on the whole ideal of OPEN SOURCING YOUR LIFE.
Rescue time is an amazing time tracking tool that will help you uncover distractions, time saps and general efficiency holes in your day. It runs as a background service watching what apps have focus and uses a pretty slick rating algorithm to help you classify things that are distracting and things that are productive for you.
Sleep cycle is an app that helps you get a better idea of how you are sleeping. I often lay in bed cycling through problems I am trying to solve so while I am physically in bed at a reasonable time I am not actually asleep; being more aware of that helps me spin down so I can get the rest I need. It also does a gradual wake so that you come out of sleep slowly and not abruptly.
Triage is a tactical inbox 0 application. I have four email accounts that I use regularly and this app lets me quickly sort the important from the noise so that I can grind through my inboxes quickly. There are several apps that claim to do the same such as Evomail, Mailbox and Sparrow but for me Triage gets the job done the best.
Clear is much like any task application with a few simple elegant twists that make it easy to use. There are hundereds of these todo list apps such as List to-do or even the awesome Wunderlist but for me and my needs this was the most simple to use. Clear helps take out much of the cruft that goes into making and doing lists.
Epic Win is well, epic. Firstly who would not want to use an app named epic win (+2 to charisma!). Secondly if you are really tired of the same old check an item off the list app and you like gamification then this is for you. It is basically an RPG todo list app. Get organized and get things done while leveling up your character.
Being Geek As a software engineer, you recognize at some point that there's much more to your career than dealing with code. Is it time to become a manager? Tell your boss he’s a jerk? Join that startup? Author Michael Lopp recalls his own make-or-break moments with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Netscape, and Symantec in Being Geek -- an insightful and entertaining book that will help you make better career decisions.
Hackers & Painters "The computer world is like an intellectual Wild West, in which you can shoot anyone you wish with your ideas, if you're willing to risk the consequences. "
--from Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, by Paul Graham.
Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you'll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don't need outside investors, and why you're better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don't need to be a workaholic. You don't need to staff up. You don't need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don't even need an office. Those are all just excuses.
50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) In a time when children are too often coddled, 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) reminds readers that climbing trees is good for the soul, and that a pocket knife is not a weapon. Full of exciting ways children can explore the world around them, this book explains how to "Play with Fire" and "Taste Electricity" while learning about safety.
Welcome to Your Awesome Robot Designed to be enjoyed by children with an adult on hand, Welcome to Your Awesome Robot provides perfect material for a fun family activity day or a kids workshop. Viviane Schwarz has illustrated hilarious comics throughout the book to explain the blueprint instruction pages, so this is just as much a story as it is a workbook.
Backyard Ballistics Enabling ordinary folks to construct 16 awesome ballistic devices in their garage or basement workshops using inexpensive household or hardware store materials and this step-by-step guide. Clear instructions, diagrams, and photographs show how to build projects ranging from the simple match-powered rocket to the more complex tabletop catapult and the offbeat Cincinnati fire kite. The classic potato cannon has a new evil twin—the piezo-electric spud gun and the electromagnetic pipe gun has joined the company of such favorites as the tennis ball mortar. With a strong emphasis on safety, the book also gives tips on troubleshooting, explains the physics behind the projects, and profiles scientists and extraordinary experimenters such as Alfred Nobel, Robert Goddard, and Isaac Newton. This book will be indispensable for the legions of backyard toy-rocket launchers and fireworks fanatics who wish every day was the fourth of July.
Geek Dad Today's generation of dads & moms grew up more tech-savvy than ever. Rather than joining the Little League team, many grew up playing computer games, Dungeons and Dragons, and watching Star Wars. Now with kids of their own, these digital-age dads are looking for fresh ways to share their love of science and technology, and help their kids develop a passion for learning and discovery.
Get out of #jail free card Facebook is like jail, you sit around and waste time, write on walls, and get poked by people you don't know. This short book is designed as a tool rather than as an armchair diversion. It shows you the faster, easier, natural way to take back your life. This book is here to help you start living again. To even be able to think about the life you don't have, first you have to unburden all your daily worries at work.
The Healthy Programmer To keep doing what you love, you need to maintain your own systems, not just the ones you write code for. Regular exercise and proper nutrition help you learn, remember, concentrate, and be creative—skills critical to doing your job well. Learn how to change your work habits, master exercises that make working at a computer more comfortable, and develop a plan to keep fit, healthy, and sharp for years to come.
Pragmatic Thinking and Learning Software development happens in your head. Not in an editor, IDE, or design tool. You’re well educated on how to work with software and hardware, but what about wetware—our own brains? Learning new skills and new technology is critical to your career, and it’s all in your head.
The Phoenix Project In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. Readers will not only learn how to improve their own IT organizations, they'll never view IT the same way again.