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Cracking the Work-Life Balance Code: Unconventional Strategies for Remote Developers

Struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a remote developer, despite following the standard advice? Embrace async communication, set up a dedicated work space, priortize self-care. Yeah, yeah. We've tried it all. But let's dig deeper and explore some unconventional strategies and fresh perspectives to help find that elusive balance.

What unique approaches, mindset shifts, or unconventional techniques have you discovered that work for YOU? Share our innovative ideas and let's learn from each other's experiences!

Top comments (5)

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Bernd Wechner

Not sure if it's innovative, but on the flip side, when it comes to work-life balance, I don't know what else there is to do, to achieve it, other than, work less.

I mean seriously. Sound like rocket science? I sometimes think it does to some. But there's an old paradigm I know from our history (source escapes me now, but google o ChatGPT would be fun to use to trace its history) of 8/8/8 ... meaning 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep and 8 hours personal.

We battled hard to achieve that in a world that, post industrialization took so many of the self employed people in pre-industrial society and replaced them (competed them out of existence through mechanisation) and put them to work in factories and mines. Where they cracked whips and the new slavery was born with 10, 12, 14 hour days, and children put to work.

The timing and extent of this was different across nations but the pattern to some greater or lesser degree generally similar. From which the labor movement was born, and the 8 hour day was fought for and one, and in some areas the 8/8/8 paradigm was the banner held high.

A great victory. Then we had a small distraction for a half century blowing each other up and emerged into a new world (from the 1950s) in which many imagined more automation and the gains shared and people working less and playing more, of the emergence of leisure society. Much Sci Fi touched on the benefits of this automation, of robots, AI, and more.

Instead from the 1980s on we continued to elect neoliberal idealists, in the paradigm of meritocracy and the price we paid was more work, less play and more and more people working more than 8 hours.

And even 89 hours work was a myth. After removing 8 for sleep, anybody who procreated suddenly found they had of the remaining 8 a domestic house to manage, the shopping, the cooking the cleaning, the child care, the teaching more and more. So there was a convenient division of labour or a while, with women handling those 8 hours, well more like 12 but anyhow, and men doing the 8 in the office, factory, field.

Then women, rightly hand enough of that, and fought back and we entered the age where women and men both work the first 8, and need to as the costs of living rose rapidly in the past two decades especially and slept 8 and had 8 left for what? Yep the shopping, cooking, cleaning, children, and ...

At the point of exploding on everybody's lips again is work-life balance.

What innovative approaches are there? Buy less, work less. Done. So me, and my wife, both negotiated our hours down to about 5 a day on average, she's more flexible in education and I'm in IT but we sit around 25-30 hours a week, and we are in love ... with our lives. We have the time to walk our kids to school, to play with them, to manage our house and fit it all in. Even then we squeeze some out, as I find myself doing community work, for clubs, and community groups as well, and personal skill development and an and ... there's nothing I can think of but to reduce the time spent hunting dollars, and to do that to lead modest lives and consume less, and work less, and have time for each other, our children, and well, life - balanced with work.

Do you have some miracle innovative secret for work-life balance that doesn't mean simply spending less time at work and more on life? That's how we achieve balance. Or?

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Ben Sinclair

Are you saying that in the time before WW2 we didn't need to do any housework or childcare in that 8 hours of "personal" time? It seems like you're saying that only affected us since the 1980s?

You're right, in as much as I think most people would be on board with the idea of "work less", although it's obviously different for different people. Some people really enjoy the structure of their work life and feel lost without it. I don't understand them, but I know they exist!

But for now the "work less" approach only works if you've got money. Most of us can't afford to cut our hours, to have kids, or a house. It'd be great to be in a position to say, "I'll fix my life balance by sending less time working", but that's still a science-fiction utopia most of us will never see.

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Bernd Wechner

Are you saying that in the time before WW2 we didn't need to do any housework or childcare in that 8 hours of "personal" time? It seems like you're saying that only affected us since the 1980s?

Puzzles me where you got that impression from. But no. Why would anyone suggest that?

But for now the "work less" approach only works if you've got money. Most of us can't afford to cut our hours, to have kids, or a house. It'd be great to be in a position to say, "I'll fix my life balance by spending less time working", but that's still a science-fiction utopia most of us will never see.

Depends on what you mean by "got money". To some degree, there's truth in that for everything in our modern world. Can't eat without money. Well, not for long, or without someone else money ;-)

And science-fiction utopia? I would have guessed from that you're describing your small part of the world, wherever that is, and my gut feel would have been it's some place i the US - but apparently it's Scotland. Sorry to hear things are so dire there, because it's not the case everywhere by any means. Heck, I've grown up in Australia surrounded by people who elected to or were compelled to (only opportunity) work less and elected to live more frugal lives more simply than our surrounding culture and did very well, enjoying their lives as fully as any I'd seen. You'll meet such folk here at big music festivals and Rainbow Gatherings without any trouble.

That said, my brief visits to the UK (including Scotland) which were last in the '90s always did impress me as a land that made living very pricey indeed. But that was a biased perspective from an Aussie on the road, living off of savings as best possible. I remember one of my last visits to London when everyone I knew were conspired to be away or unavailable on a surprise visit, so I checked the YHA out, and they wanted more money than a hotel any place else, so I slept in a park ;-).

I don't see frugality as science fiction or a utopia, just something many are pressed into and other elect in order to win freedom from what many called "working for the man".

I lived the year of 2001 in Australia for net cost around the AU$5000 mark for example and didn't work for money a day that year ... but then I know a thing or two about utopia, and comfort I guess, or the options we have.

I can't promise you anything because every area and place on earth is different, very different, though there are also surprising similarities, but we can set those aside for now, the differences are real. In one place you get 2 weeks annual leave in about 7 weeks, in one place you work 42-hour weeks as the norm, in another 38. In one place you have near free public health care, in another you're out of pocket a day's wages just for a 15-minute doctor's visit. Moreover, a given place is different decade in decade out, time changes things. But I will nonetheless venture that you would be very surprised at how tight you can pull that belt when pressed or actually just deeply desirous, and on how little you'd get by.

I mean I have literally interviewed the homeless in Scotland and Germany and Australia, sat with them for a while, offered to share what I had in the way of food, heck sat with one in a cafe to discuss circumstances here last year, I get it, I have stories beyond a comment here if we had a pint and a night to kill ... event a night from living hell in Edinburgh (a published story that one) but you'll have to look me up if you come to Hobart (Tasmania) and find me on a good day (as I'm a little busy raising children, managing a house and big in the community of giving and caring and sharing and a couple of clubs to boot. But I'll gladly offer a pint of an evening in town and tell the wife a friend's in town ;-).

The killer for a lot of us in the past decade has been rent, or real estate (if buying). It's gone crazy here in Tassie, nuts. I do worry for my kids. And am in debt up to my ears because family thinks it was wise to buy a house for their future (and the bank is greedy and I'm a little nervous, but hey - we'll probably talk about how to spend less before we talk about working more, it's just too awesome having time with the kids and the community and living the life that "employment" takes away from us).

Still, between the two of us we earn about what one full time professional here is earning and we're surviving. Lucky in a lot of ways, never ungrateful, and hence also aware that we live in a country where most people are, yet seem always to complain or be worried they're not. Most of those don't know poverty, are clueless what it's like for a single mum (yeah oddly enough I've some experience there too - not being one of course, but you know, girlfriends ;-).

Of course, I do know not everyone is lucky. Heck no. many are really doing it tough. Not so many on I expect, not so many in the IT sector, but even there, indeed there'll be some. Not least because real estate has some folk really trapped. Not that it's necessarily draining all their income (though it can do that too) but because of the vicious cycle in places where demand outstrips supply, which I've seen in a good few places. Professional people end up on the streets, because of a hiccup, lose their job, miss a weeks rent, or landlord simply wants to convert the unit and they are evicted, or there are a lot of different hiccups and stories, but then they couch surf a while (heck been there too, but not of necessity, phew) but their friends slowly get tired of that, and they get embarrassed by it and so end up sleeping rough in the summer, but the general lack of a wardrobe and bath makes it hard to find work, and then hard to find a place and suddenly renting is like applying for a job, demands a CV and references and a good history ... a vicious cycle.

Anyhow, I'm rambling ;-). Life's short, live it ... love it, enjoy it, and watch yourself for excuses (and go easy on yourself too, it's not all excuses, life can be rough, but most folk who have time to complain about it have a ways to fall yet before it's really rough ;-).

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Rizèl Scarlett

This is not unconventional, but this works for me. I paid for a gym membership plus personal training ahead of time. I don't like to waste money, so I have to show up. And I have an accountability partner aka my husband who would never miss a day at the gym. It forces me to at least leave my computer and go do something else. Working out works wonders on my mental health.

Another thing that helps is blocking out my calendar way ahead of time. Basically, when I start the job, I just block out all the times that I'm out of office.