Work Life Balance for Passionate Developers - Full Stack Toronto 2015 Edition

8a2e3b7e9a3e4037934e5680e16e53e1?s=47 Joshua Warren
November 12, 2015

Work Life Balance for Passionate Developers - Full Stack Toronto 2015 Edition

‘Work-life balance’ is touted in job postings everywhere - but what does it really mean? If you’re a passionate developer that’s excited about the technology you work with every day, you probably spend a fair bit of time outside of the office doing something that looks a lot like what you do at work. Even if you’re excited about your work, it’s important to find ways to rest, recharge and disconnect periodically. After spending 6 years building a team of passionate developers, I’ve learned that everyone approaches work-life balance differently, with vastly different results.


Joshua Warren

November 12, 2015


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    Founder & CEO Founded Creatuity in 2008 PHP Development Firm

    Focus on the Magento platform I was inspired, in large part, by never wanting to work in a traditional office thanks to the movie ‘Office Space’.
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    Work/Life Balance Used to be simple Work 8 hours making

    widgets, then go home The widgets didn’t follow you home
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    Work/Life Balance Today Work 8+ hours Spend an hour driving

    home Check your work email on your smartphone Finish up “one last bit” of work after dinner
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    We have a limited amount of room and have to

    choose carefully what we pack.
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    If we aren’t mindful of what we pack - others

    will make those decisions for us.
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    Most of us are trying to pack entirely too much

    - we’re spending too much of our life focused on work.
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    Work/Life Integration “If people enjoy what they do, there’s no

    need to draw strict lines.” —Fortune Magazine Not a bad concept, but…
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    Work/Life Integration Work/Life Integration, especially when abused by employers, destroys

    personal boundaries Healthy personal boundaries are critical to self- worth, happiness & fulfillment
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    The best attempts at work/life integration use technology to allow

    employees to alter their work to better accommodate their personal life.
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    The worst attempts at work/life integration use technology and peer

    pressure to take advantage of passionate, driven employees.
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    Cui Bono Evaluate a company’s work/life initiatives by asking a

    simple question - cui bono - “to whose benefit?”
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    2,000 sounds like a lot - but think about how

    fast each weekend disappears.
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    Inspired by Merlin Mann’s post How Many Saturdays Do You

    Get and the followup discussion on his podcast, Back to Work
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    Merlin’s calculation was that he had only about 300 Saturdays

    left that his young daughter would want to spend with him.
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    #fstoconf15 Tech executives - you’re not running a factory. Stop

    treating your employees like factory workers.
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    Hiring millennials? 40% of them will leave if you don’t

    have a good work/life balance policy. — Washington Post
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    In other words - do you want high performing employees

    who are creative, solve problems and help your business grow? Give your employees downtime!
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    #fstoconf15 Work/life balance is not a perk. It’s an attitude

    of respect for each employee’s life and need for rest.
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    Flexible hours and working from home are great, but create

    a clear boundary that signals to manager and employee when the employee is working.
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    Flexible hours and remote work are not an excuse or

    justification for overworking employees.
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    As a manager - make sure to respect your employee’s

    boundaries - and your own. Lead by example.
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    These options are great, but implemented on their own without

    a cultural change, they are often underutilized.
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    Old culture: all employees must be in the same office

    at the same time, or they aren’t getting work done
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    New culture: it’s important for employees to be able to

    collaborate, but their productivity won’t suffer if they don’t have the exact same hours.
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    For others, it means getting that last hour of work

    in after the kids have gone to bed.
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    Experiment with small changes. I banned laptops from my bedroom

    and discovered that one change greatly improved my sleep.
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    For me - it wasn’t just the impact of staring

    at a bright screen. Using a laptop in bed prevented me from relaxing my mind.
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    #fstoconf15 Know yourself. Take time to set priorities to help

    you guide your own personal balance between work and life.
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    Does your time spent at home match up with your

    priorities? If not, rearrange until it does.
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    Would you walk out of a meeting at work for

    a minor issue at home? Then don’t give up your personal time for a minor issue at work!
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    Get better sleep - FitBit Improve your nutrition - MyFitnessPal

    Get some sort of exercise - FitBit + MyFitnessPal
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    Even minor improvements to your health will have a noticeable

    impact on your work/life balance and your enjoyment of life
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    Ensure your family respects your work time - establish a

    clear signal when you are ‘at work’.
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    Ensure your work respects your family time - establish clear

    rules and expectations of when you will and won’t be reachable.
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    Don’t spend all of your personal time on a project

    that closely mirrors what you do at work.
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    For example - I enjoy speaking with developers and trying

    new beers. I use every trip I take - for work or pleasure - to connect with local user groups and get their recommendation for a good local beer.
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    It’s an important topic, and important to get it right

    - those 2,000 Saturdays will pass by in a blink.
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    #fstoconf15 Define one boundary between your work and your life

    and starting Monday, respect that boundary.
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    After a week, try the Emergent Task Timer and see

    if your reality matches up with your priorities and boundaries.