I’ll hear people constantly say they don’t have time to work on their career. They can’t attend a UG meeting to network. They can’t spare a minute to go through a Stairway Series. They have family commitments, kids, hobbies, volunteer activities, spiritual needs, and more. That’s not even counting all the work they need to get done as a part of their job. When can they spend time on R or Machine Learning or CosmosDB or anything else?
I get it. My life is chaotic as well, with deadlines and a pile of work that never goes away. I sometimes dread travel and vacation because that means my work piles up on either side of those events. This is on top of commitments to keep up on chores at home (I have cooking and laundry), fix things at the ranch, spend time with kids, get date nights with my wife, and still get to the gym. Most weeks feel like a crazy treadmill for me.
In my life and career, I’ve learned a few things. One of which is that I need to prioritize what’s important to me. That often helps me decide when to do X instead of Y. I regularly make choices between opportunities, but I also try to evaluate the relative importance of events. I rarely miss family events or kid activities, but sometimes I do. I know that there are times that I feel my work is more important in the moment. However, I try to balance those out to be sure I remember that family is more important overall.
I’ve also learned that I can find time for things that are important. I have to adjust priorities and scheduling. It is important to not just overload myself with more work, which is easy to do. I find that if I try to get more done in a week, I can’t do that for long. Like a big project at work, I’ll burn out without balance. Instead, I’ve learned to let something go a bit, or cut back on some part of my life to make a little time.
Everyone can spare some time. Especially those of us in the technology industry. We need to learn and grow, even if it’s just for ourselves. We need to keep our brain’s active, and on a regular basis, we should try something new. Other professions can do this, and we should as well.
I know you can’t dedicate a half a day a week to a class, but maybe you can spend 30 minutes or so working through a book. I know you can’t make the user group every month, but you can make one or two meetings a year if that’s something you enjoy. You can’t go through all our Stairways, or maybe not even all of the Indexing levels in that series, but you can start learning a bit more with one. Perhaps you can’t make SQL Saturday this year in your area, but is it worth a bit of your day to watch a presentation from the SQL Bits archives?
I bet it’s possible, and I bet you can find a little time every month or two to grow a bit as a technology craftsman. Make sure you take care of yourself, and actively work on your career, in balance with the rest of your life.