about this column.
February 15, 2002
A Time of Rest
© 2002, Douglas E. Welch
When I am not out doing my high-tech work I can often be found working in the extensive garden I inherited when I bought my house 6 years ago. This is a typical combination of my high-tech and high-touch life where I get as much enjoyment from hiking the local mountains as scaling the heights of Windows XP. I often find that wandering around in my garden can give me a new perspective on the high-tech side of my life, especially when it comes to balancing your work with the rest of your life.
One big difference between gardening in my home state of Ohio and here in Southern California is the lack of a true Winter season. Left to their own devices, most plants will continue to grow year-round. In Ohio, both you and the garden get a respite from the intense work of the Spring and Summer months as everything sleeps through the cold days and nights.
Just like a California garden, the stress of constant growth with no real relief can leave you and your high-tech career feeling drawn and spindly like the plants during a California Winter. What is lacking in both cases is a time-out, a time away, a time of rest that Winter offers to the world, but not to business.
While some of you might have a slow time over the Winter holidays, most high-tech workers are embroiled in a constant battle to keep up with both your workload and the ever present need to keep abreast of new technical information. You need to find time away from this battle, your own personal Winte, to allow you to rejuvenate and be ready to face the high-tech world again.
A little at a time
One way to gain some relief from your work is to take a few minutes every day and get away from your work. Learning to leave your work at the office is probably the best advice I can offer you. Bringing home the stress and unhappiness with work is a drain on your energies and will only leave you less able to face the next day.
Even if you are a computer hobbyist like myself, try to find ways of having fun with your computer that are far removed from your daily work. I am interested in gardening (as mentioned above), but also love wine, coffee and cooking. Using my computer to dig up information on these and other interests is as far removedfrom day-to-day work as you can get. It involves me with my computer in ways that remind me what drew me to this work in the first place. I also use my computer to record some of my original songs, manage the waypoints in my GPS unit, process digital photos and a host of other applications. The trick is to make sure you are having fun with your computer and not agonizing over some missing Windows device driver or a crashing computer. I will give a few of my favorite ÒfunÓ resources at the end of the column.
Finally, I want to offer a prescription to all of you who might be feeling a big run down by the high-tech career treadmillÉtake a break. I know that vacation time is limited, heck, as an independent consultant I donÕt really get a vacation, but I make sure I plan some time away from my work whenever I can. This can be as simple as stopping at the Getty Center on my way home from a client to spending 4 days in Sedona, Arizona during the New YearÕs holiday. Take whatever time you can and enjoy it to the fullest.
Even in Sedona, I was still in touch with my clients by email and phone, but it is amazing how much better I am at answering client questions when I spent the morning hiking among the red rocks and watching an eagle soar above Oak Creek. The same can apply even if you just spent the previous evening in the garden, enjoying the blooms or your perfectly manicured lawn.
Sometimes, the key to doing your best work is to forget about itÉfor a while. Taking time away, even in small pieces, can help you to be more effective, more productive, happier human being. Find a way to find a little ÒWinterÓ in your life. Build a fire. Put up your feet and grab a good book ( or website). Your family, your co-workers and your career will thank you.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to relax with the computer:
Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com
A GardenerÕs Notebook http://www.welchwrite.com/agn (some more of my writing)
Martha Stewart Online http://www.marthastewart.com
Food Network http://www.foodtv.com
Astronomy Picture of the Day http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
A Word A Day http://wordsmith.org/awad/subscribe.html
Tiny Words http://tinywords.com
about this column.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/
He can reached via email at email@example.com
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