What is your work/life balance like?

Henry Ford said " Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.". The same applies to possibilities. If you believe in a static model that a person has a certain profession and that it’s impossible to learn something new, try something different, go to some other country… then it is impossible.
I don’t say this to blame anybody - I only want to emphasize that we have so many more possibilities than we are aware of. It’s about taking responsibility for our own lives, not guilt. The “problem” is that we are not educated to be free and responsible and so most of us are trapped in a jail of fear. Since we consider this normal it’s not popular what I write :smiley:


Work:life balance has always been a tough one for me. After growing up on a small, quiet island, I moved to London. I ended up teaching myself web design & dev in my free time, having previously done some print design work. Squeezing that around a day-job, then going freelance full-time, and then joining a start-up my work/life balance stayed pretty much pinned on 100% work.

I’ve since moved to Cornwall and gone back to freelancing/consulting and whilst things are better there is still far too much work in the mix. We moved over the summer to a small house by the sea, and my first child was born a few weeks ago so I’ve resolved to fix the work:life balance.

I’m building a small app that I hope will one day provide a modest income whilst only requiring a modest amount of time to maintain and grow. I know starting your own business isn’t a common course of action when looking for downtime, but after years of freelancing, managing clients, learning new technologies, maintaining old client projects, etc I’m thoroughly burnt out and ready to walk away from tech completely.

Building websites for others has resulted in a lot of stress, time spent in front of the computer, and an overall reduction in my physical and mental health; all whilst not being particularly rewarding, financially or otherwise.

Much like some others here (@oldpond & @lee) I’ve been through the mill and would be very glad to not work in tech ever again, but I’m treating this app — built with simply with Elixir, staying clear of anything new or too clever for it’s own good — as my last roll of the dice and a chance to capitalise on everything I’ve learnt, and perhaps reap the rewards of almost a decades hard work.

Regardless of whether it succeeds or fails, I’ll probably be spending a lot more time with family and friends in the future, prioritising my fitness/health and perhaps be looking to spend more time working with my hands. There’s a chap down the road that makes wooden surfboards (ottersurfboards.co.uk) and maybe he needs an apprentice! :wink:


Congratulations, and all the best on this new life adventure. Don’t pressure yourself to resolve the balance all at once. Sleep will be chaos for a while, and life outside of work will have new strains and pressures that are logically obvious, but probably never experienced until now. It took me the better part of 9 months to get any real semblance of productivity back. Give yourself time.

I think most of us could do with more of this.

IMO, the industry nowadays and the speed it moves at, encourages a disproportionate amount of time spent in research/learning cycles and churn, rather than the implementation of what we already know.

It’s often better to roll with what works, than what’s trendy.



Don’t get me wrong, I love tinkering with new languages and frameworks. A healthy work life balance can be achieved in this industry. Working in sane, boutique development shops is the dream for most programmers. Working with this great community is very rewarding. As an IT architect, I, too often, have to move mountains that have forgotten how to move. Enterprise IT has forgotten how to write software for the most part and can only wait for the big vendors to tell them what to do next. Yet, they wonder why their technology is falling off support and they can’t get anything done on time or on budget. It’s funny from the outside, but when you are in there trying to steer the Titanic, it’s not so fun. But, who wouldn’t want to steer the Titanic, right?


@jdumont So sorry to hear about your experience. Mine has been different in terms of life occurrences but very similar in terms of circumstances and a state of mind.

Due to dozens of factors beyond my control I have been in survival mode for a LONG, long time. And even when things got little better about 11-12 years ago then I was already struggling with learned helplessness. It’s very hard for me, even now as I approach 39y/o soon, to actually believe in myself even though I handled so much – and I’ve witnessed people break down and end up in psycho wards for much less.

I still don’t view the IT industry as such a big problem. It’s just poisoned by normal capitalism – as everything else is. Truth is, wherever we go, much of the same problems persist (short-sightedness, always chasing short-term profit before sustainability, greed, laziness etc.). I’ve made a ton of personal and financial sacrifices but eventually ended up with my current employer whom I absolutely love.

Speaking real though – as we go further in life and want more time for ourselves and the family, we cannot settle for being guns for hire forever (especially with ageism being a fact of life). We must chase our own startup, consultancy, life-style business or whatever it ends up being.

Hope you can turn stuff around – and everybody else who, for one reason or another, wasn’t able to become Bill Gates by being a clever programmer (which many of us are).

There are plenty of money to be made outside the beaten paths. I hope we all can find them. Ultimately, life is not about work. It’s about love and care and experiencing reality. :slight_smile:


No, no, no! My rule is that if I travel to a client, I’m billing 12 hours a day. I do not leave my home in order to work 8, sleep 8, and spend the other 8 twiddling my thumbs in a hotel bar. (I also work while waiting in the airport, and on the plane, and charge for that time.)

I see later down that you say you don’t set the price; you should talk to your boss because he should be taking this into account. There is no way that a day of work at your home location and a day of work on site should be treated the same.


I am actually playing with the thought of pulling the plug and getting out of the software development business.

I came to the conclusion that the way I see software development and the way software development is approached in the business world doesn’t fit well together. In my experience, money ruins it all. Projects get cancelled, delayed and people are forbidden to work on certain features even tho it is necessary for the application (refactorings, tests, research, documentation).

Then I just can’t stand the modern workflows, especially the “agile” stuff where people are supposed to work on scoped tickets like slaves, instead of “owning” a project and being responsible for its development and maintenance.

I am certainly not a bad developer but I have the feeling that programming should have been just a hobby because I feel limited in what I can achieve with the modern business requirements in my back.


Those are valid concerns, and honestly, if you got something else you would like to do (and are able to) you should go for it. If you regret it later you can switch back to software development quickly.

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100% truth. IMO there is still a way to marry both things but this usually involves us compromising on a lot while the business people compromise on very little. So not exactly a balanced or fair compromise.

Thing is, 95% of all projects we will ever work on already have all the important decisions made and set in stone. The point in time at which we arrive at the project’s development is usually 90% focused on maintenance and cautious expansion… Nobody from management wants to hear any revolutionary ideas at this point. They want a factory assembly line workers now and not the designers of the assembly lines themselves.

And this point in time many managers think – and they’ll never admit it – something along the lines of “the thing is barely working, we’ll only be reinforcing it now, no reforms”. Having in mind the ton of crappy code I’ve seen in the wild… sadly they might have a point.

Sometimes I think exactly the same. When coding is commoditised and mostly practiced for money, it gets morphed into a regular 9-5 job with zero creativity. While there’s a ton of creativity that can be applied to it. And we’re not talking this on the level of art – we’re talking about being creative and very practically useful for the world at the same time.

But creativity needs time, and time is always the most limited resource of all in software project management.