Here’s another web person talking about work life balance I can hear you say. And you’d be right I guess, this is the topic of the post.

For many years, I haven’t had a great work life balance. But that has started to shift recently for a few reasons.

Some background information first. I come from a family of grafters but more importantly my siblings. We’ve all had to put the effort in to succeed and currently we all have jobs we seem to love. It’s not been an easy road for us due to the upbringing we had but we have stuck to our guns and put the effort in and now it’s clear that the hard work is paying off. We’ve had to make sacrifices along the way though of course.

Now I don’t speak for my siblings here but for me, some of the sacrifices now that I look back on were probably overkill and may have helped to destroy the marriage I once had. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s fair to say though that maybe I took work a bit too seriously and put everything else on hold.

I”m not much of a hobbyist. I am one of those people who say that my job is my hobby. Last year as you know by now, I switched disciplines from Front end to design and I think up until then, my hobby was designing sites rather than building them so I didn’t really class it as the job at the time. I play the odd game of FIFA or Fortnite and watch films but I don’t really do anything else. The kids are older now and they don’t want to spend that much time with me when they could be spending it online with their friends. I don’t really exercise and if I get any bigger, I’ll be living in two postcodes.

So it’s fair to say that I just rattle around indoors tinkering on the laptop so for me it was easy to pick up work rather than doing something else.

What a boring bastard!

In 2017, I moved house. I rented a small flat for years to be near the kids but finally I was ready to upgrade and moved into a proper house. A bedroom each, a dining room and a conservatory. And more importantly a garden. I was living a dream. But not much changed really. Sure I had more space and we were not in each others way but the same routines existed. Work, work some more, eat and sleep and do it all again the next day. Some days good, some days bad.

I wasn’t unhappy. I just existed.

Let’s fast forward to 2018 and October when I hit 40. I’ve said many times in other places how hitting 40 changed my mindset. Nothing much changed per say but I realised that I was now at the stage of my life where it should be stable. It was then I realised what I wanted from life or at least the career. I made the first steps of turning my passion of design into a reality and pushed to changed the future. It wasn’t easy but last year the change happened but there was still this work life balance thing going on in my head. All I did was work really.

But then Covid-19 happened. Lockdown.

I didn’t see the kids in the flesh for a month or so which was pretty hard but at the same time, I decided I needed to make a change to my lifestyle. So with nobody else to look after for a while, I started to exercise and eat the right way. Walking became a thing, everyday. I was owning it. Work at this time had decided to go 100% remote so it was easy to fit all that in around work. No commute meant 4hrs back into my day that meant more time to walk. I started to watch more TV as a means to get away from my desk and the state of my mental heath seemed to improve.

Or so I thought

I’d noticed a few times that I didn’t feel right. Racing heart, I felt wired and then tired. And then one day I had to call an ambulance. I thought I was dying.

Whilst I was getting fit, I had discovered heart rate monitors and became obsessed with knowing my fitness state to the point where I would watch the monitor constantly. Any increase made me wonder what was going on as I was sat down. Am I ill?

As the paramedic stood over me checking me out, she asked do I stress a lot? Do I suffer from anxiety? I told her my story, work all the time, not seen the kids, keep checking the heart rate monitor.

You need to chill out a bit, you will make yourself really ill. Get out there and exercise, put the monitor away and do something else.

Not a heart attack…phew

So that week once I had calmed down, I went out and bought paint for the fences and from there I bought plants and spent the next few weeks digging it all up and starting from scratch. I worked on websites till 5 and then was out there doing manual labour till it went dark. I finally had a balance and still do. The garden is a bit quieter now as it’s not the weather for it but I have started a new project of sorting out the house inside. I’ve started to socialise a bit more as best we can in these COVID times. Sure it might only be a coffee with a friend but that couple of hours is a break from everything else and a chance to relax.

I’m also the fittest I have been for about 20 years. I feel so much younger and look thinner too. Lockdown for me overall helped me realise what I needed to do.

Now I know what many are thinking. So what, there is nothing to learn here. And you are probably right. But if you are someone who struggles to get away from the desk or think about work at night, it’s ok but don’t let it define your life. I still think about work but I am much better at not picking up the laptop and losing an evening over something that can wait until the next morning. Of course, sometimes there might be things that need to be done and that’s ok too. My job is my passion so I want to do the best I can but I have now realised I need away time to recharge and rethink. Having that time in the garden made me reflect on what I wanted and what I don’t want.

My next job is to get rid of that bloody wallpaper.

[edit] 6 years ago, I wrote about work life balance with a few others and it’s interesting looking back. [/edit]