Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Balance – Family

When you're a single geek who loves code your free time is often taken up entirely by code and you’re happy and nobody else is involved; then you may meet someone else and find that your time isn’t entirely your own so what do you do?

Family Time

If you’re lucky your other half will understand your love affair with code and let you have time alone with your PC but even at this point you need to be careful to balance out the time that you spend “geeking out” instead of spending time with your other half, although they are there for you and understand why you have to spend time at the PC they still need to feel wanted otherwise you run the risk of them feeling like they are being taken for granted and that is never a good position to be in and ultimately they should be more important to you than the code.

If you are blessed with kids then most likely you’ll find the majority of your spare time disappearing, if you aren’t playing with the kids your other half probably wants you to spend time looking after them which then squeezes out time to continue your love affair with code but, and this is only my opinion, I’d make sure I spend my time with the kids, as a friend said to me recently the latest technology is unlikely to be that important in 10 years but your family will still be important in 10 years.

Social Networks

The one thing you are very likely to hear when with the family are phrases such as “are you on that computer again?” and “would you put that phone away!” and my bet would be you are most likely to be on a social network, probably twitter, and I’m guilty of this myself. Now in the Disconnecting episode of 'This Developers Life' Scott Hanselman’s wife made a statement which struck me (paraphrased here):
When you are with the family but spend the time ‘playing’ with your phone what you are saying is “the people you are interacting with on your phone are more important than your family, even though your family is here and they can be thousands of miles away”
This really made me think. I have some good friends on twitter but I get very little time to spend with my family as a whole (kids are usually in bed in the week) and so I want to spend what time have have with them actually with them. So this has lead me to making a decision where I disconnect at weekends so from Saturday morning to Sunday night I don’t go on twitter or code, I ensure I’m focused on the family and what they want/need to do.

Out of hours coding/learning

“Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life.”
If you’re a passionate geek then the above saying will make perfect sense to you, if your job allows you to ‘geek out’ at work using your skills and learning new tech then probably won’t feel like you are working at all, which for most techies is nirvana and if you are in that situation then balancing work with everything else in your life will be a whole lot easier.

For lesser mortals who at best only like their job and most commonly don’t have time to keep up with tech in work time you need to take time out when not in work to do this and it is this that can cause you issues.
But all is not lost! Balance here is the key, your other half will know you want to spend time geeking out (or are perhaps in a death march situation) and as long as you make some time to be with them, look after the kids for an hour, or it could simply be to have a conversation with them then in my experience you’ll find them happy to support you in the death march situations and even allow you time alone with the PC to geek out every now and again.

If you are a train or bus commuter then you do have another option you may be able to use that time to get your tech fix be it reading a book on the latest tech or something you don’t know about, or you are able to get the laptop out and do some coding and doing that really helps with spending time with the family.


I’ll tackle balance in your social life related to work.

Monday, 30 May 2011


Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good.
Balance bad, better pack up, go home.
Mr Miyagi - Karate Kid

As Mr Miyagi says Balance is key, and balancing out the various aspects of your life is possibly one of the most difficult things you have to do on a daily basis even if you don’t realise it.

So what am I on about? Well balance has many definitions in the dictionary but the closest definition to what I’m on about is:

mental or emotional stability

So is the am I on about your mental stability? Not really. To be honest I prefer Mr Miyagi’s quote as for me it conveys what balance is all about and if your balance is off then you need to fix it or its likely to lead you to a bad place…….

As geeks we frequently focus on code and tech, they are the core and centre of our very beings but it is possible that this love affair can end up being very imbalanced with us focusing on things that aren’t necessarily the most important things to us although we perhaps don’t realise this at the time.

I had originally intended on only writing one post but as the post increased in size I decided to split it up into a series of posts to make it easier to read , so I’ve now got  a series of posts in relation to balance covering :

  • Family
  • Social Life
  • Work
  • Tech

These post are very much my opinion on the subject and in no way do I promise to have all the answers, but this post has for me become the itch I had to scratch and I wanted to share my thoughts and experience in relation to these things in case it can be of any help to anybody else.

First up…

I start with my thoughts on balance in relation to family specifically where you have an other half and children.