March 15, 2012

Though this blog has focused on a means to improve one’s professional success, there are many other means by which life can be measured, and although I don’t feel my job defines who I am, I accept the fact that I will spend a significant portion of my life at my job. Even assuming I spend half of my waking hours on the job, there is another half to my life – one focused more on my own ejoyment and well-being. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, but we all have those times when we just need to unwind, cut loose and enjoy the moment.

Not only is this a natural need for the mind/body; it’s a good thing that will make you a more well-rounded person, and just as I’ve endeavored to spread my skills and make myself more of a generalizing specialist, I too endeavor to be a good husband, brother, friend and person with more depth than a professional life. If any of this sounds familiar, I’ll come right out and admit it – I’ve stolen the idea taken the inspiration for this post from this podcast from This Developer’s Life. If your ears have a spare 50 minutes, I highly recommend listening to this podcast (and all the others) and getting the information with one less man-in-the-middle.

Striking a Balance

My spare time is filled with many, many things. Friends, family, games, pets, side projects, you name it. Still I like to take time out of every day to sit back and relax – catch my breath and let the world move around me. Not only do I feel more productive afterwards, it helps me sustain my day to day momentum.

Maybe for you this means that you take a slightly longer lunch break and play some cards. Break out the headphones and read a few blog posts in the middle of the day, even at the expense of working a little later. No matter how you do it, if you find that you enjoy your job, odds are pretty good you’ve learned to relax and combine some of your work and play.

Measuring Success

You know how after a long week you wake up and are relieved it’s Friday. Well, I keep score by not realizing it’s Friday. If in an average week, the weekend comes around and I’m none the wiser, I’ve done a good job of taking a step back and relaxing throughout the week (assuming I’ve put in 40 hours of work).

If I find myself wishing for the weekend, I try to take a step back and find out why. Is there something happening that I’m looking forward to, or something I’m dreading that’s happened earlier? Looking at these issues is important for improving your overall happiness.

Reflecting on the week, the day, the month or the year will allow you to make some realizations. Maybe you’ll find that on days when you’re struggling with something new, you tend to be a little bit happier. Maybe on days when you have to touch that one part of the code, or deal with that one thing in particular (you know the one) you have a worse day than usual.

One thing, we as a team, have started doing at work is using this tool as described by it’s creator. It’s simple to use, one click and done, and I’ve found thinking about it to be detrimental. Being in a bad mood can be for any reason – even those outside of work, and so interpreting the results should take that into account. If I’ve taken longer than a second to click one of the links, something’s wrong… Once you’re redirected, ask yourself why you clicked the button you did. You’ll find this to be an effective means of finding what you do/don’t like about your job/life.

Act on It

Just do it. I can’t tell you what to do, so don’t expect me to, but taking steps to mitigate the things that make you have bad days will make you a happier and more productive person. So will taking some time out of your work day to do something you enjoy. You’ll be glad you did, and you might find your work improving as a result.