Y U No Tell me: Make time for you

This is the 14th and final post in a series called Y U No Tell me; Lessons learned from building a WordPress development business. For a list of all posts in the series, please start here.

I work a lot. I always have. I also have an obsessive personality, so if there's something I like doing, I want to do it all the time. I like to learn. I like to write code. The fact that both of those play a big part in what I do for work means that it's very easy for me to WANT to work all the time. It sounds like an amazing combo. And for the most part, it is. But there has to be a limit.

My business partner Jon Brown gave a talk at WordCamp Orange County this summer where he talked about Work/Life Balance as a Remote Worker. He told some stories about how he's able to travel the world while still managing to get some work done along the way. It's a great talk and really inspiring.

At the after party a group of us were discussing the session further. Jon said,

“The laziest thing I can do is get up in the morning, go to my desk and work for 12 hours”

That hit me like a ton of bricks.

If you aren't careful…

Since starting 9seeds, I've made countless new friends, I've learned new skills, I've traveled all over the country. It's been pretty awesome.

In that time I've also gained somewhere around 35 pounds. That part is not so awesome.

A harsh reality of working as a web developer is that I sit down for my job. There are countless studies that talk about how bad sitting is for you all by itself. If you work a LOT of hours and you do all that work sitting down, it becomes very easy to be unhealthy.

That quote again, “The laziest thing I can do is get up in the morning, go to my desk and work for 12 hours.”

There have been countless days where 2pm will roll around and my wife will ask “Have you had lunch yet?” No, no I hadn't.

She jokes that I'm unaware that we even have a kitchen at the house.

The reality is that it's really easy to just sit and keep doing what you're doing. I can't tell you how many late-night work sessions were companied by a large bag of Dorritos and a 32 oz. soda. Just because it's easy.

I needed a change

During the couple of months leading up to WordCamp Orange County, I wasn't really happy. I was feeling very overweight, I was working too much, stressing out too much and I wasn't making enough money to make all that work and stress worth it. If we're being honest here, I was ready to pack it all in and go get a job.

I made a series of changes that have had a pretty drastic effect on my overall health and happiness.

1. Fitbit
About a week after WordCamp Orange County, my wife and I bought Fitbits. We started getting up in the morning and walking before work. At first it was short walks. Then we started setting the alarm earlier so we could fit in longer walks. The results; I dropped 2 pants sizes in the first 2 months.

2. More Help
For the past couple years I have been the sole owner of 9seeds. This summer I brought on two new business partners. A move that was long overdue. Splitting up the responsibilities so that everything wasn't all on my plate has been a huge help! Knowing that there were other people actively thinking about the welfare of the business allowed me to work less hours and not feel guilty whenever I wasn't at my desk.

3. Curb Emails
I had read an article that talked about not reading emails once you go to bed. I decided to try it. I found that I was able to fall asleep faster and slept better when my last action before sleep wasn't responding to a client email. I then took that a step further and also stopped checking my email first thing in the morning. These days I wake up, walk 4-5 miles, shower, eat and only after all of that is done do I check my email for the first time.

The most incredible side effect of this change was how much more productive I have been when I get to my desk in the morning.

4. Eat Better
I don't like to use the word diet. I'm not on a diet. I am, however, trying to change the way I eat. I've basically removed soda and replaced it with water. I try to limit my carb intake. I eat breakfast, which is easier now that I get up and walk every morning. I try not to eat anything after 8pm. Again, it's not a diet. I'm just making better decisions. The results; I'm down more than 30 pounds since June.

5. Crossfit
I've never been a big fan of going to the gym. I had a membership to a gym around the corner for more than a year and never once stepped foot in the place. A friend has been telling me how much he's been enjoying Crossfit for the past couple years, so I wanted to give it a try. My wife and I signed up and have been going 3-4 times a week since August. We love it. I know it's not for everybody. But for me, I love that the workouts are always different. I really like the people we've met. It's a very welcoming community with a positive attitude. Not unlike the WordPress community, actually. I also love that it's a workout my wife and I can do together, no matter our personal skill/fitness levels. We go to the same classes and simply scale back the workout to match where we're at individually.

Individually, any one of these things would have been a benefit. All together, they've been life changing.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog series. If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them.

Thank you for reading!

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  1. John CleanupCowboy McCormick on October 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Thanks John! I didn’t realize that I was just lazy! Getting out of bed and sitting for hours on end in front of the screen is just that! (lazy!) I’ll have to take up the walking routine. Crossfit,,,,,,,, may have to wait. 🙂

    • John on October 27, 2014 at 11:52 am

      I’m as lazy as they come! 🙂

      • John CleanupCowboy McCormick on May 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm

        John, six months have now passed and I still think about this post on a daily basis. It is still very difficult to stay clear of the screen but I now recognize it as lazy rather than productive! Thank you!

        • John on May 11, 2015 at 3:37 pm

          Thank you, John. That means a lot.

  2. Joel on October 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Amazing – very similar to my thoughts but I’m at the very start of the journey. The quote you posted will be printed out and stuck on my wall 🙂


    • John on October 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      The quote is definitely powerful. Putting it on my wall might be a good reminder to get up and walk around a bit.

      Thanks, Joel!

  3. jb510 on October 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    In spite of it being a subject I’m passionate about putting together that talk actually took a lot of encouragement. To hear how it’s affected people though is really amazing. Humbled and thankful for this post.

    • John on October 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      I think as developers, our instinct is that our talks need to be about something technical. But, there’s so many other aspects to what we do that are just as, if not more valuable than another talk on how to use Custom Post Types. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about post types.

      Your presentation was one that I needed to hear and it came at the perfect time for me to make the largest possible impact.

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