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Edwin Klesman
Edwin Klesman

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Stay Fit(aka There Is No Work-Life Balance)

I've been working as a developer for the past 15 years (as you can read here and I had my share of struggles:

  • Trying to learn "real work environment" development together with a team at the beginning of my career
  • Not advancing to the next level while putting in hard work
  • Having back issues from working at a desk all day
  • Working at a place with an a-hole boss
  • People forcing me towards work that I didn't sign up for
  • etc.

Recently, the topic work-life balance is getting popular again. Some say it is an important balance while others dismiss it saying that when you love your work it will be complementary to your life instead of a separate thing.

In this post, I want to show you my take on how to keep energetic, motivated, and relevant as a coder/maker and healthy (both physical and mentally).

In short: I want to show you how you can stay Fit.

It's not about this-versus-that balance

As a human being, we are more then our job. We are more than the sum of our family and/or friends. And even what we do outside of work doesn't define us.

We are the sum of all of the things that matter in our lives

This means that we cannot keep our sh*t together, by just focussing on "a healthy work-life balance". Spending more time on one or two aspects of our lives and how they balance out in the entirety that is "you" will not cut it.

Work-life balance has been measured out widely online and it even became a popular topic in the Valley where more and more people are seeing that pumping in 100+ hours per week to get a startup going isn't (and shouldn't!) be the defacto way of working.

(Over)compensating won't help

It is easy to hide into other aspects of your life when you're focussing on a couple of them and ignoring the rest.

For example, if you're focussing about that dreaded work-life balance and feel stressed since you are working your ss off and can't seem to cut it on a personal level, it is easy to hide (aka *compensate) by partying hard during the evening or in the weekends.
This will give you a feeling that you're doing fine as far as your personal life goes, but it won't keep on track for long. This kind of behavior will wear you out.

That's why the statement I made above - we are the sum of all of the things that matter in our lives - is so dang important.

If you want to get in a mode that will help you to grow as a person, be a good spouse/friend/relative, and become(or stay) a good and experienced developer, you'll need to get your sh*t together entirely and balance every aspect in your life out.

Reducing friction by balancing all facets.

The first thing that you'd need to do is to mark all the things in your life that matter a lot to you. Think high-over on this one, and try to fit those things into "categories" or "topics" that matter to you.

For example, take a look at this overview:

It's an example that shows a couple of topics that matter to me:

  • Family
  • Side Hustle
  • Product Propositioning
  • Work
  • Keeping up-to-date

These are all logical things for someone who has the ambition to make things that matter and trying to build his own viable income.

For me, getting passive income from products that provide value to others and becoming financially independent is what I'm working towards.

I want to become my own boss and have the power to spend my time how and with whom I want to. It will help me to be a better father and husband and give us freedom

So when you look at the red pointer in the middle, that goal is what puts weight on the center of my goal disc and whenever I put more effort into one of the topics, I put more weight on that one, shifting the balance from the center towards that topic.

It would take me extra effort to counter-balance my efforts and get the balance in the middle again.

IOW: try to keep your balance in the middle of what matters.

How to steer your balance

One of the most effective ways - and I'm still learning on improving my own behavior on this - to get your balance into that center point is by communicating to the people in your life that are key influencers for each topic.

Talk about your intentions, the efforts that you'll need to make and what It will mean to them. Talk to your family. Talk to colleagues. Talk to potential customers and/or users of your products/services.

If you make sure that every party is up-to-date with what they can expect of you, and they understand they'll give you more slack to put effort in another topic.

In the end, everyone benefits from the fact that you've balanced out all the stuff in your life and are feeling the most Zen.

Besides communication, defining boundaries is a great way to get your topics in check with eachother.

This could be as simple as defining how much time and effort you'll put into each topic each day/week/month. ie:

  • define how often you want to go do fun things with your family
  • plan how many hours you are going to work on your sideproject or side hustle (and when you're going to put in those hours)

It's important you're being realistic here. Don't just write up stuff. See how much effort went into each topic the past period and define boundaries that will let you go for each topic without having to walk on eggs.

You'll find out soon enough that there will be tensions between topics that need (extra) attention but by making things concrete you can see why that is, how you might fix it and you'll be in control instead of becoming a victim of what's going on in your life.

To Conclude

Be aware of what your time is going into and how this effects other topics that matter to you in life.

As the image in this article shows, it is important to keep in the center of all that matters and it isn't about a single relation between two aspects of your life.

Staying fit is about balancing in the middle of what you want to do and being aware of how much effort you want to put into each topic and communicating about that with the people that matter in your life

Take care ✌🏻

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