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Zack Sheppard
Zack Sheppard

Posted on • Originally published at

Let life get in the way

I made zero progress on my side-projects this past week. Indeed, I just barely got the work done for my freelance contracts. I was the opposite of a 24/7 hustler. And that's ok, because I was spending that time letting life get in the way of work.

Specifically one very small bit of life: my new four-legged side project, Islay.


But this post is not (just) an excuse to share adorable photos of this tiny puppy now living in my house. This post is about taking a breath after months of quarantine hustle and realizing I lost sight of that quasi-mythical goal: "work-life balance."

For myself, and I assume I'm not alone in this, it can be easy to get sucked into games about making numbers go "up and to the right" - whether that's getting obsessed with the performance of an API server, maximizing finances, or driving up the engagement stats on a blog or Twitter. These are games with "high scores" where it's easy to monitor whether we're winning and every time the numbers go up, a little dopamine burst whispers "good job." But the tightly-coupled simplicity of that system makes it addictively, dangerously easy to slip into the habit of working almost every waking moment.

I don't have the be-all and end-all answer to perfect work-life balance and in no way would I - someone who has happily plugged away on projects for 60+ hours a week for basically all of 2021 until this week - pretend that I do. All I can share is what has worked for me looking backwards. A decade ago, finding work-life balance was about unplugging completely and sitting in a park or a bar with people. In 2019 work-life balance was becoming a deep-dive nerd about photography.

This week, work-life balance was teaching this little furry destroyer-of-toys how to sit.

Sit! Good girl!

The common factor to these was a living goal. One that isn't measured in numbers like commits or reps or engagement but rather in moments like stories told or photos made or lessons taught. I don't know if that's the recipe to success. What I do know is I've signed up for a new big project in raising Islay. The payoff for this project will be a little spitfire who will come demand I stop working if I've been grinding too long, because she's a dog and she knows nothing about numbers or making them go up, right, or in any direction at all.

Discussion (1)

zackdotcomputer profile image
Zack Sheppard Author

I'm curious if this is a recipe other people have noticed working in their lives, or if the opposite is the case for you. Do you incorporate non-metrics goals into your week or are you in an ardent "must work all the time" phase right now?