Time away from work

There seems to be a myth that tells us if we spend a significant amount time away from work, away from a regular employed job, it will have long-term damaging consequences for our career.

I am here to say that I think the opposite is true. That this is a myth that serves the short-term interests of employers and keeps employees feeling trapped.

I have two experiences in taking career breaks. The first was when I walked away from my IT career for 4 years to pursue the creation of three small businesses. Not only did I have some of the best working experiences of my life during these 4 years, but when I came back to IT at the end of it I ended up being paid more than twice what I was paid before I left.

The second experience is right now, where I have taken 18 months of any type of paid work while I start some of my own ventures. I am about to go back to paid employment next week, and although I am not going to be earning the same kind of wage I was before I took this time off, I come to the job with a totally different perspective to work and know that the value I can offer is more than triple what I could have previously.

You are not stuck. You have options. They do not always seem obvious. They are not always easy. But in the end following your curiosity will be better for you and those you serve than staying where you are and following the rules.

The over-prepared

'...the art of maximizing the amount of work not done...' -- Agile Manifesto

I have a strong tendency to do more work than I need to. I do this in small ways and large, and I call it over-preparing.

As a small example, when I arrive home I tend to get my keys out of my pocket (or bag) about 20 metres before I am at my front door. There is no need for me to get the keys out this early before I get to the door. I could get them out 5 metres from the door without having any delay between walking and putting the key into the lock, or even, as shockingly inefficient as it would be, reaching and stopping at my front door before reaching for my keys.

But for some reason I think that having 15 metres of preparation is essential, despite the increased risk of dropping the keys and tripping over because I am thinking about the keys instead of walking (admittedly small risks, but it is surprising how often I do drop the keys).

I am sure I do this in larger ways as well, and I started wondering what I am actually doing. In the words of a friend of mine, I am not sure if it is a bug or a feature, but it would seem to me that I am doing work before it actually needs to be done, therefore increasing the likelihood that I am doing work unnecessarily.

I think it comes down to wanting to feel like I am being productive and efficient and doing, whereas some moments don't require that, and I would be better off staying with the moment and being in the moment.

Time to stop typing, and to have a cup of tea.