Fostering Healthy Non-Professional Relationships

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As Web designers and developers, we invest a lot of time and effort in nurturing professional relationships, including those with clients, prospective clients, coworkers, peers and others in the industry.

Unfortunately, while many Web professionals work hard to make these work-related relationships as strong as possible, they often neglect their non-professional relationships, including those with family and friends and even with themselves and their own health and well-being.

I began thinking about this article after reading about a fellow Web designer who was going through a divorce. Divorce rates are depressingly high anyway, so this sad scenario is not unique to the Web industry, but I do think that Web professionals, and IT workers in general, often struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and their relationships often suffer because of that struggle.

In this article, I will offer some of the ways that I have found helpful in my own life and career to foster healthy non-professional relationships and personal well-being.

As an industry, we are keenly focused on solving problems, yet some of the most important problems we face are the ones away from our computer screens.
As an industry, we are keenly focused on solving problems, yet some of the most important problems we face are the ones away from our computer screens.

Am I Qualified To Write This Article?

When I first began thinking about this article, I was actually very hesitant to write it. I did not want to come across as sanctimonious, nor did I want to present myself as something I am not. The reality is that I am not an expert on relationships, human psychology, or mental or physical health. I questioned whether I was, indeed, qualified to write this article.

What I do have is experience with working hard to maintain a balance between my work life and my life away from the office. I have personally struggled with this balance for years. Along the way, I’ve made my share of mistakes and I’ve learned many of the lessons contained in this article the hard way — through my own experiences and failures. If any of the tips that I can share will help even one of my colleagues to better manage their work-life balance, then, qualified or not, I will have been happy to share my experience.

Avoid The Workaholic Mentality

Yiannis Knostantakopoulos recently wrote an excellent article here on Smashing Magazine about “Dealing With Workaholism on Web Teams1.” His article explores the misguided way that many companies and individuals in the Web industry “not only disregard” the dangers of workaholism, but “actively promote it.” Yiannis’ article does a great job of illustrating workaholism in the workplace, but it does not cover another equally problematic scenario: Web professionals whose workaholism manifests itself in numerous small jobs and projects, as opposed to one 14-hour-a-day job.

Web professionals have a number of ways to “keep busy” — all I have to do is look to my own life for an example. In addition to my full-time job as head of website design and development for Envision Technology Advisors, I also teach night classes at the University of Rhode Island, maintain my own blog and portfolio website, and write articles like this one for other publications. This is in addition to occasional personal projects and design work for friends (how many of you have been asked to design a friend’s wedding invitation?). Yes, workaholism often manifests itself in the way that Yiannis describes in his article, but all of these little “side projects” can also easily consume and overwhelm someone.

Learning To Say “No”

These side projects are often tougher to deal with than what Yiannis describes because Web professionals enjoy these side projects and view them as an outlet for their creativity, as opposed to an extension of their workday. I can relate to this. I love being able to meet and instruct new students in the classes that I teach. I also very much enjoy sharing my ideas and experiences through the articles that I write. I find both of these activities enjoyable and rewarding, but they do take time away from other non-work things that I could be doing.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, so use them well.
There are only twenty-four hours in a day, so use them well. (Image credit52)

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance means learning to say “no.” This might mean saying “no” to staying late at the office, or turning down a freelance project, or politely telling a friend that you do not have the time to design their invitation. You might enjoy doing all of these things, but they are all work. If you fill all of your time with work activities, then you will have no balance in that aforementioned work-life balance.

Saying “no” can be very hard, and everyone has a different threshold for how much they can take on while still maintaining balance. But one thing is certain — no one can do it all. One of the first things you need to do is recognize your threshold and prioritize your time. If you know you can spend only so much time on “work,” then you will be better able to decide which projects to proceed with and which to decline.

Find A Hobby That Does Not Involve Computers

I remember interviewing a young designer a while back. In the interview, I asked him what his hobbies are. He responded that he spends all of his time “online, working on HTML and CSS and building websites for fun.” I suspect that he thought I would be impressed by this statement, and I know that some companies would find this appealing, but I just found it sad. I also remembered being like that at one point in my career.

There was a time when I would spend every night and weekend learning the latest Flash tricks (yes, it was quite some time ago) and redesigning my own website over and over again so that I could apply the skills that I was learning. The problem was that, while I was learning a lot, I was not healthy. I had put on a substantial amount of weight, I was consistently lethargic, and I had grown somewhat distant from the people I cared about. I finally realized that the problem was that my “hobbies” and my “work” were one and the same. I was always in front of a computer monitor, which left very little room for other activities or people in my life. The situation had to change. I decided that I needed to find hobbies that did not involve a computer.

Find a hobby that takes you away from your daily routine work and freshens your mind.
Find a hobby that takes you away from your daily routine work and freshens your mind. (Image credit43)

I had always wanted to play the violin, so I decided to give the instrument a try. Later, I also began playing the ukulele. Both of these instruments gave me an outlet for my creativity that did not involve a computer.

In addition to playing music, I also began to enjoy hiking — an activity that not only takes me away from the computer, but also gets me outdoors exercising (more on that later), where I can spend quality time with my wife and kids. Hiking became a family activity.

While playing the ukulele or heading out on a hike might not appeal to you, the point is that you need to find a hobby that takes you away from the activities you do in the workday. This does not mean that you should not spend any of your free time on the computer learning and experimenting — our industry actually requires this level of dedication to continual learning. But it does mean that you should not spend all of your time improving your professional skills at the expense of everything else (and everyone) in your life.

Enjoy Nights And Weekends

There is a reason that the workday, and the work week, ends — it is so we can recharge and not become consumed by our jobs. In this day and age, however, the line between our time at work and our time at home has increasingly blurred.

Our society is more connected than ever. The mobile devices we carry allow us to stay in constant contact with the people in our life, including those we work with. Because of this level of connectivity, many people feel that they need to be “on” at all times, checking messages even after they have left the office for the night or the weekend. You need to break this habit.

For years, I would check my email right before bed. I’m not sure why I did that. It was more of a compulsion that anything else, but I can tell you that I endured many sleepless nights because of this habit. I would often read an email from a client that upset me, either because they were asking for changes that I didn’t agree with or because they made some comment or request that I knew I would need to address in the morning. The email would hang over me all night, keeping me awake and restless — all because I insisted on checking my email before bed, a time when I really couldn’t do much about it anyway!

About a year ago, I decided to stop checking my messages at night. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Immediately, the sleepless nights due to unresolved work issues all but went away. I still receive those distressing emails from clients, of course, but now that I check them during the workday, when I can handle them, they do not cause me sleepless nights.

Once I stopped checking emails at night, doing so on the weekend as well was a logical progression. This enabled me also to reclaim my weekend for activities outside of my work life and to recharge for the week ahead.

Speaking of recharging…

Take A Vacation — For Real

I have spoken to many Web designers and developers who have “taken a vacation from their job to catch up on their work.” While that sentence would make no sense to non-Web professionals, I’d bet that anyone in this industry knows exactly what I mean!

Taking a vacation from work so that we can get to other work that we have not been able to do is a recipe for burnout. A quality vacation does not need to be a big expensive trip to some exotic location or to a ride-filled theme park; it just needs to be a time when work is put aside.

Vacations, like weekends, are time when we need to step away from work and recharge.
Vacations, like weekends, are time when we need to step away from work and recharge. (Image credit43)

Do not try to get in some extra work or check email just so that you can “keep up and not get swamped when I return to the office.” Those messages and projects will be waiting for you when you get back, refreshed from your time away and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

Make Your Health A Priority

IT professionals, as a whole, are not considered the healthiest people around. An overabundance of caffeine, sugar and heavily processed foods seem to be par for the course for many in our field. Couple that with the long hours spent sitting in front of a computer, and you do not exactly have the makings of a healthy lifestyle. This is why your health must be a priority.

When I decided to change my own lifestyle some years ago, one thing that I did was pay more attention to the food I eat and my physical activity. Even small changes to your diet and exercising a few days a week will have a considerable impact on your life. I found that I had more energy (especially in the hours after lunchtime, when my energy level would normally crash), and I was able to think more clearly. I also lost some weight, which made me feel better about myself and had a positive effect on my interaction with clients and others.

Now, I am not one of those people who will talk about how much they love to exercise. On the contrary, I pretty much hate it. Every workout is a struggle, and it is very easy to say “You know, I’m just not feeling it today” or to make excuses by believing other things are a priority, like your current project, but the reality is that that project will still be there after your 30-minute workout! Squash those excuses, and make your health a priority. After all, you are the only one who can maintain and improve your relationship with your own body!

Make Friends And Family A Priority

The people in your life — whether it’s your spouse, significant other or other family or friends — are important to you and need to be prioritized. Many of the failed relationships I see amongst my peers happen because people stop communicating or paying attention to each other’s needs. As I said earlier, when you are stuck behind a computer monitor all day and night, you leave no room for anyone else.

Long hours at the office and late nights in front of the computer take you away from the people in your life. If you consistently neglect a personal relationship because you need to work on projects, then that relationship will eventually fail.

Putting aside some code for a while to focus on a personal relationship is healthy and necessary. The code will be waiting for you when you return. The converse is not always true, however.
Putting aside some code for a while to focus on a personal relationship is healthy and necessary. The code will be waiting for you when you return. The converse is not always true, however. (Image credit52)

As I said at the beginning, I am not an expert in human psychology or relationships, but I do not need a degree to know that if you ignore the people in your life, they will not be in your life much longer.

However, if you follow the tips in this article, then you will be doing a lot to make the important people in your life a priority. Take hiking. My family began to join me on those hikes I told you about, so not only did I get away from the computer and get some exercise, but I also found something that we could all enjoy together.

Many of the activities mentioned in this article are like this. If you start making nights, weekends and vacations a time not to catch up on work, but to experience new things, then you will find that many of those new activities have room for your loved ones and will bring you closer to them.

In Summary

Strong, healthy relationships require work. Just as you must pay attention to the needs of your clients and colleagues to keep those relationships strong, so too must you be mindful of the non-professional relationships in your life.

  • Do avoid the workaholic mentality by learning when to say “no.”
  • Do not try to “do it all,” at the expense of other aspects of your life.
  • Do find a hobby or outlet for your creativity that gets you away from the computer.
  • Do not check email at night or on the weekend.
  • Do give yourself time to recharge at night and on the weekend.
  • Do take a real vacation that allows you to relax or experience new things — as long as those “new things” are not more work.
  • Do make your health a priority by improving your diet and exercising a few times a week.
  • Do involve family and friends in your life, and make them a priority.

(il, al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/01/20/dealing-with-workaholism-on-Web-teams/
  2. 2 http://picjumbo.com/
  3. 3 http://unsplash.com/
  4. 4 http://unsplash.com/
  5. 5 http://picjumbo.com/

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Jeremy was born with six toes on each foot. The extra toes were removed before he was a year old, robbing him of any super-powers and ending his crime-fighting career before it even began. Unable to battle the forces of evil, he instead works as the Director of Web Development for the Providence, Rhode Island based Envision Technology Advisors and teaches website design at the University of Rhode Island. His portfolio and blog, at Pumpkin-King.com, is where he writes about all things Web design.

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  1. 1

    Excellent article! Really helpful and it gave me inspiration to start right away. Many thanks!

    8
  2. 2

    Good one… I like this point – “Learn To Say NO!” :)

    11
  3. 3

    Great message and it rings with truth – for any field or volunteer position. I know many who won’t say no and the ones that love them the most suffer. As an older graduating student, I learned these lessons young, however, the temptation still lurks around the corner.

    3
  4. 4

    Very good article. I especially like the part about keeping healthy. Many of the developers I know seem to believe that they are indestructible as super heroes and will never be affected by problems that ultimately will have a negative impact on their professional and personal lives.
    In fact, maintaining a healthy, mentally and physically life, can often contribute to the professional performance more effectively than working overtime to stay in front of the computer.
    Thanks for the article!

    6
    • 5

      Jeremy Girard

      May 5, 2014 5:12 pm

      Health is something that a company itself can contribute to as well. I know at my company, this is something we work hard to find a balance on. We often have company lunches and the menu is typically pizza, tacos, chicken wings, and other not-so-healthy fare. Add in the gallons of coffee consumed each day and the slushie machine we have and we are not exactly encouraging healthy food choices! The problem is that this is what employees often want. We’ve tried to do healthier lunches and no one wants to attend, which defeats the purpose of having company gathering time!

      To try to do our part, the company decided to make both healthy and not-so-healthy food options available during company lunches. They also pays 100% of a gym membership for any employee that wants one. Some people take advantage of these healthy benefits, others do not. Whether that is because they feel they are indestructible or not, I cannot say, but I do know that many people appreciate the company offering healthy options and outlets.

      So, in the end, individuals need to decide on their health and the choices they make, but having a company that supports those choices and offers options is a great starting point.

      6
  5. 6

    Thank you! My code can really waot.

    -1
  6. 7

    I agree with your statements on finding hobbies away from the computer. I have always had a passion for hockey and have found this sport to be a great disconnect from the online world and also a great example of an activity that requires a team to come together. Finding a sport or another activity that you can share with friends has been a great use of my mind away from the computer!

    1
    • 8

      Jeremy Girard

      May 6, 2014 2:36 am

      Like the hiking example I used in the article, these activities are really great because, as you said, they not only give you time away from the computer, but they do so in a way that promotes your physical health. Additionally, in your hockey example, you have also found a hobby that includes teamwork, which will help you build relationships with others. Win-win-win!

      1
  7. 9

    Find A Hobby That Does Not Involve Computers.

    6
  8. 10

    Your article is all well & good, but it would seem to subject colleagues to an unwarranted guilt trip that they inevitably resist. But thanks.

    2
    • 11

      I’m not sure what you mean? How would the activities from this article subject someone to a “guilt trip”?

      0
  9. 12

    If you’re 20 you probably won’t think it’s a big deal. You can sit for hours straight and don’t feel a thing. But it’ll creep up on you by the time you hit mid-30s. Especially if you lived a sedentary lifestyle for yearrrsss and most likely overweight by then.

    My BMI was slightly over the limit when I was 35. I didn’t pay much attention to proper sitting ergonomics throughout my life. Although I jogged and played tennis in my 20′s, it all stopped when my wife and I had our first kid. By the time I’m 36, I have to deal with the stress of 3 kids. My mental and physical health took a huge toll from family and domestic duties. Physically I’m holding on, but mentally I’m a wreck.

    Sitting even for 30 mins is painful and tiring. I simply can’t think and work. This is my lowest point. I am now 38 and enough is enough. I want to work painfree and not tired. I don’t want suffer a heart attack or stroke in my 40′s. I don’t want to be in a wheelchair being a burden to my family. I have to be there for my kids until they’re out of college, get a job and independent. Then I don’t care if I die.

    I’m back to running 5k every alternate days and it’s gonna be for life. Only god can stop me from doing so. I will kill mortals who stand in my way. I ditched my desktop and work from a laptop. I don’t work sitting down. I devote an hour of my day to some hobbies away from my family.

    1
    • 13

      Thanks for sharing your story- and I wish you the best of luck keeping to your new routine! It sounds like you are making some good choices to resolve some of the problems you have been having.

      0
  10. 14

    kalyankumar bethi

    May 6, 2014 7:01 am

    Very nice article. I really really likr “Make Your Health A Priority” and “Find A Hobby That Does Not Involve Computers”!

    1
  11. 15

    Manikandan Baluchamy

    May 6, 2014 8:18 am

    Pragmatic & well written! You don’t have to be a doctor to tell that you have a headache.

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  12. 16

    We do need to have other activities that does not involve computers. We also need to take time to spend with our families and friends. This might even help us in our coding and creativeness. Think out of the box and have other perspective and interactions.
    Thanks for this article!

    0
  13. 17

    A really great post: learning to say ‘no’ and also doing non-web/non-screen extra-curricular activities is something I’ve been desperately trying to cultivate over the last few months. Feeling a ton better for it, too.

    *shared*

    0
  14. 18

    Tiago Martins

    May 6, 2014 9:55 am

    Great article, I work a lot and sometimes this is bad to my relationship with my girlfriend, this year I started to say “No” to unlimited extra hours of work, taking some breaks to enjoy my life with friends and family.

    I noticed that my work quality improved because of this!

    0
    • 19

      This is a good point that I didn’t make in my article – when you do nothing but work, that work will start to suffer because you are tired and often stretched too thin. By stepping away and following some of the tips in this article, not only will you feel better and energized, but your work will be the better for it! Anyone who has struggled with a complex code or design problem and has put it down for awhile, only to solve it quickly once they pick it back up again later with a fresh perspective, can relate to this.

      0
  15. 20

    I fail to see how this article applies to web developers specifically and I’m trying not to be offended! I’ve seen this sort of behaviour in various office jobs but I’ve also seen the complete opposite, I think the failure to find a work/life balance depends on the individual.
    This kind of behaviour seems to manifest more often maybe in an office job (though I have no proof of that other than observation) but I don’t believe its truly specific to the web. Your article seems to be full of stereotyping too, the unhealthy generation of coders sitting with their eyes bleeding at a screen eating giant pizza. Isn’t this a bit outdated?
    I’ve found the web developers I meet very down to earth, enjoy their friends and family..have fun etc. Exercise… honestly the web developers I know seem to cycle and exercise a lot so I just can’t see where you are coming from.

    1
    • 21

      Jeremy Girard

      May 6, 2014 1:17 pm

      Thanks for your comments. You are right, the lessons here do not apply only to web developers/designers. I know accountants and lawyers and other professionals that suffer from many of the same issues covered here. If workaholics in those professions read this article, I expect they too can get something out of it.

      I also agree that many web developers are the complete opposite of what I describe in this article. They already get it and these tips are not for them, they are for those who are struggling with that work/life balance.

      Do I use generalities and stereotypes in my article to make a point? Perhaps, but there are many in our industry who absolutely fall into that stereotype. What I do hope developers like the ones you describe in your comment take away from this article is that not everyone is as well-adjusted as they are. If they have found that balance, I hope they will be willing to share their approach with others who are struggling to do the same. As I said earlier in the article, “we are keenly focused on solving problems, yet some of the most important problems we face are the ones away from our computer screens.” Helping a colleague with a tricky design or CSS issue is great, but if what that colleague really needs is help finding a life balance that will make them happier and healthier, then that guidance is as important, if not more important, than the latest CSS technique.

      0
      • 22

        Hi Jeremy, Thank you, I guess you’re right. There is often some truth in stereotypes and some individuals will have these life balance problems like in your article.

        1
  16. 23

    This has always been my way of working, although I love my work (front-end hacker) but I always prioritise my health and my well being, after all life isn’t a giant FACTORY!

    1
  17. 24

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I finally reached burn-out status after a year and a half in the industry, and a constant ebb and flow of 8 hour work days + 3-4 hours on side projects. I realized I needed to stop when I recently worked a 19 hour day. I ended up quiting my last side project yesterday (and I hate quiting) in order to partake in some of the activities that you mention in the article. I know that getting fat and burning ourselves out are not things that we should strive for as human beings, but I must say that all of the work helped me carve out a position in the industry in just a year and a half. That’s the wonderful paradox of being an overachieving American.

    0
    • 25

      I am sorry to hear that you hit the wall, but I am happy to know that you are doing something about it and I hope the tips in this article will help you along the way. Good luck!

      0
  18. 26

    I lately became absolutely convinced of how neccessary exercise was while trying to advance in writing a song. I had spent two days alone at home trying to come up with a part for the verse and had nothing. I went out, walked for an hour, got back home, grabbed my guitar and within 40 seconds I had the part I needed laid down. Since then I’ve taken up running at least two times a week, and I’m astonished at how good it does for my brain. Counter-intuitively, it makes me feel less hungry (especially when I go out in the morning) and less tired (mentally speaking, of course).

    1
  19. 27

    Great article! Like most other people, I “know” this stuff, but there’s a difference between “knowing” and “doing.” Thanks!

    0
  20. 28

    Oscar Nilsson

    May 7, 2014 8:33 pm

    Great article with a lot of good points! I’m going turning my phone of now just because i should!

    0
  21. 29

    Very good. A lot of points that we need to know and do.

    0
  22. 30

    Thanks for the article. I really appreciate it.

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  23. 31

    Excellent article. Really stuck a chord with me as I see myself going further down this path and I need to pull myself out.

    I realised the other day, do I want to look back in a few years and see I spend most of the 20s in front of a computer? No I don’t . Life has a lot to offer and if I’m not careful ill end up regretting big parts of it.

    My first step will be to exercise more and eat better. I hope this will get my energy levels up so I can be more productive when I am working, so I can shut the computer down for the evening.

    1
  24. 32

    I have read smashingmag articles on and off for a number of years now and this is my first time leaving a comment. I just wanted to share my story, but please bare in mind this is before full-time employment.

    Over 2 years ago now I was in my final year of my University degree (studying Software Development). I spent almost all of my time on a computer, despite being in a long-term relationship. I became addicted to gaming and I nearly lost everything – my degree, my girlfriend, and my own life. I too gained weight and my lifestyle had significant consequences on my health at the time. I hit rock bottom and nearly took my own life. Those were dark times and with the support of my girlfriend, family and friends, I managed to turn my life around.

    Now, 2 years on; I have graduated from University with a good classification and I have been working as Software Developer for over a year and a half! My girlfriend and I are now engaged and looking to buy our first home. My point is, no matter how overwhelmed, depressed or withdrawn you feel; there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    I attended cognitive therapy, made radical changes to my diet, go to the gym 5-6 times a week, and have reduced the amount of time I spend at the computer outside of work hours. Despite all of these positive changes I have made this article is a timely reminder of how quickly things can deteriorate for the worse. Recently I have been feeling burnt out at work having invested hundreds of hours into my own personal training and development. I cannot stress enough the difference it has made to my life making the changes listed above and the way in which I approach problems. Thank you for a great article and I hope that sharing my story will inspire others to make positive changes to their lives. Be pro-active and not reactive.

    3
    • 33

      Jeremy Girard

      May 9, 2014 4:40 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story and your experiences. As I said in an earlier comment, many Web professionals have a good handle on the work/life balance, but there are also many that do not. The challenges you describe are ones that many of our fellow web designers/developers struggle with, yet I often feel like these challenges are not given the same kind of attention that technical hurdles like responsive images or the latest CSS techniques are allotted.

      I hope that articles like this one can help some of our peers who are struggling with the issues described here. I also hope that those that do not have these issues will be mindful of others around them who may not be so well-adjusted and be willing to share their tips for how they avoid burnout or worse.

      Thanks again for your comments – and best of luck with the job and your life outside of that job!

      0
  25. 34

    Thank you sir for the inspiring article. Yes everyone should prioritized their life, be it professional or personal. Both should get quality time. Many Thanks!

    0
  26. 35

    Jonathan Rogers

    May 10, 2014 11:57 pm

    Having come from a family of entrepreneurs and work-aholics this hits home. I grew up around my parents and grandparents all being very successful people. I have seen first hand my dad and grandfathers health deteriorate at an early age due to stress. My relationship with them suffered greatly as a kid when they would invest family outings to the lake or dinner or any activities because often times these outings would be business outings to entertain clients. I have this same work ethic but I feel that having been around it I am able to better balance home and work relationships.

    0
  27. 36

    This article is like reading the book of my life. I am going to change my life today. I am going to stop looking at the computer screen and get a life :)

    0
  28. 37

    Thanks to everyone who has enjoyed this article and shared their personal stories of working to maintain a healthy relationship between work and life outside the office.

    One thing I will add here to make sure that it is clear is that there is nothing wrong with working hard or being dedicated to your profession. One of the things I tried to stress in this article is the importance of balance – but that balance works both ways. It is great to have hobbies and interests outside of work and you absolutely must say “no” sometimes, but there are also times when you need to go the extra mile for a project or a deadline, or simply because what you are building is awesome and you don’t want to put it down just yet. Again, there is nothing wrong with working hard, so long as you know your limits, take the breaks you need, and ensure that dedication to a job does not come at the expense of other important parts of your life.

    0
  29. 38

    I am such a victim of everything i’ve just read in this article. I would go to all lengths to ensure the task/project i was working on was getting the absolute best of my attention at all times of the day. I wouldn’t care how many hours i slept, what i was eating, who i was ignoring.

    As of late i’ve actually revisited what made me the person i am today e.g. what was i doing other then staying switched on at all hours focusing every project i had going, because at school you are shifted from subject to subject and back then i was part of a bunch of after school clubs. Your mind is constantly being engaged with different subjects at school.

    Now im working full time im focused on one subject “digital” and yes the rise of smart phones and social media messaging has made it even tougher then ever to pull yourself away. Tech nights here and there, events, classes, talks etc it goes on and on.

    I took a look at myself and the first thing i said was i need to get back into a sport, i took up swimming, yes i might have a Garmin swim watch and swimming MP3 player but im not glued to a screen or sat scrolling and typing lines in an email. I’ve been going 3-4 times a week, my confidence is up, i’ve lost a serious amount of weight, not that im over-weight by any means but i feel healthier then ever and more importantly feeling new life.

    I could go on but im currently focusing on a few future goals. I really enjoy all things digital but im finding i have to balance it. We all must make to ensure we don’t end up too deep in hole we are going to regret climbing out later so late.

    2
  30. 39

    It’s nice scrolling through your favourite advice point and seeing an article which helps you realise that, hey, your health and happiness is very important! I like it.

    If I may share my experience; I’m a Graphic Designer that left university last year (doing a different course, so I’m working an uphill battle in terms of my career), and I suffer from depression/anxiety/OCD (that wonderful, awful trio). I managed to find work within a few months of starting to search (majorly lucky), but despite needing to work hard to prove my worth because I’m a self-taught professional, I know how important it is to have down-time. Heaven knows, I’ve been putting off CBT treatment ever since I started working because ‘who am I to make demands for time off for CBT that could be inconvenient to the company?’.

    Sometimes I very much need reminding that it’s my health and happiness that comes first, than the worry and inconvenience that could potentially happen where I work, so it’s nice to get that reminder here and now. Maybe I’ll book a holiday to somewhere? Might have earnt it, tackling mental health issues as well as starting a career from zero up!

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  31. 40

    Kristin Ray-Sprenger

    May 14, 2014 10:51 pm

    “Taking a vacation from work so that we can get to other work that we have not been able to do is a recipe for burnout. ”

    I need to get a tattoo of this on my forehead or something. I cycle through “phases” where I feel WAY too busy so I decide to take a day or two of vacation. Then while on vacation I spend as much time as possible catching up on all of my other projects and feel stressed about not having MORE time off to work on them. Then I stress out when I get back to work because a bunch of stuff has piled up. I convince myself that I can make huge strides in my personal projects to “free up more time” after my vacation, but it never actually happens.

    One thing I’ve started doing lately – when I am with my friends and family I do not look at my phone. I don’t check my email or think about work. I focus 100% of my energy on them and try to enjoy their presence, the activities of the day, the weather, etc. It has made a difference, but I still need to get away more. I think I just need to approach “balance” as a skill the way I would approach self-teaching a new programming language or technique.

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    • 41

      Plan a weekend away doing something fun and disable email on your phone so you CAN’T check in and catch up on stuff. By getting away from home, you will not be able to jump on the computer “just for an hour or so” to do work and by shutting down email (and not using the phone’s browser!) you will not be distracted by outside things that will take away from your time away.

      I promise you, it will be one of the best things you can do to feel like you have actually taken a break.

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  32. 42

    Truly valuable article and the discussion following in the comments.
    Healthy relationship between the designer and the developer matters a lot.

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  33. 43

    Great article! Thank you very much for writing this!

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