Outside of the development world, it’s difficult to describe how I landed on my current ‘remote worker lifestyle’. The concept of working from home isn’t new to most people. Some think it’s a late night infomercial’s pipe-dream, and some 100% understand it. When I tell them, though, that I work when I need to, where I need to, and how I need to, without “being my own boss”, they get curious. Where I lose them though, is that it all started with open source.
To be fair, this occurs mostly due to the fact that I then have to explain open source and the philosophy of giving back to a community via code (or “Working for Free” in their minds), but once we get past that, it’s kind of an inspiring discussion that actually excites me.
Just a little push
Back in 2012, a service called Pushover was released that allowed an API to talk to a mobile Application, basically giving you the platform to send push notifications with just about any data you wanted, to your mobile device. I was digging this. It was pre-WordPress push notifications for mobile apps and I hate email. I built Pushover Notifications for WordPress (not my first plugin but, my first big one) to allow things like comments and password reset warnings to be sent to your mobile device instead of clogging up your inbox. Then Adam Pickering of Astoundify sent me a tweet:
— Adam Pickering (@adampickering_) August 31, 2012
From here, it was just me learning the EDD ecosystem, and then discussing the details of a hosted extension with Pippin. Things stayed pretty “status quo” until the first Pressnomics event took place in Chandler, AZ.
Face to Face
I didn’t actually attend Pressnomics 1. At the time I was a software developer at GoDaddy, and the business of WordPress wasn’t something that my job considered part of my scope, and it wasn’t something I could afford on my own dollar. However, Pippin was attending, and I was only a 40 minute drive away, so we met up for beers and talked WordPress, life, development and what not. Great times, but more importantly (unaware at the time), laying the foundation for what my future was to become.
After about 6 months of using EDD as an end user to sell WordPress plugins with the Software Licensing extension, I found something that I could improve. On February 3rd of 2013, this magic happened:
My first ever commit to EDD core. I went on to make 11 more commits that year. Super minor in the scheme of things, but super important to where I am today.
Supporting the Users
In 2014 I started as a contractor, doing support and eventually development for EDD. This was in addition to my full-time job as a Software Developer at GoDaddy, and at times, really put a strain on my home life, as I was working after work was done.
Taking the Leap
Throughout my career at GoDaddy, I had worked on a large number of projects that ranged from writing my familiar PHP and WordPress, Classic ASP, .Net, and eventually NodeJS. This really made me confident in my skills and made me feel more comfortable with a decision I had been pondering for almost 8 months, but could never seem to do. I announced my 2 week notice at GoDaddy and accepted a position as a full time employee working on Easy Digital Downloads.
Leaving stable corporate life is a nerve-wrecking and odd feeling, but for me, it was about lifestyle. With a 2 year old son, and another child due in August (born August 10th to be exact), being home to help my wife and see my kids more often was the key. The move also allowed me to take trips with the family and work when I was able to, where I was able to. The freedom to choose the work hours and venues is so key to my new lifestyle.
My new challenges
With all that awesomeness described above, the real problem now becomes, managing that ever-so-important work/life balance. As many of you know, in software development, there is always the chance you’ll have to work a long day, a weekend, or even an emergency in the middle of the night when needed.
This is just assumed, but when you work from home, on a flexible schedule…that goes out the door and it becomes very easy to just work whenever you sit down for 30 seconds. This is my new challenge.Work/life balance isn't a buzz topic. It's real and affects everyone you interact with. Click To Tweet
Thankfully I have a wonderful wife who understands that I have the luxury of working in my field of passion, writing code. With that passion comes the inane ‘ability’ to always be thinking about it, even when I’m not sitting at my computer. This has lead to a few couch-coding sessions while relaxing with the family, and some late dinners, which ultimately lead up to some stress.
My truest challenge in this new lifestyle is knowing when it’s time to ignore Slack, shut off email, take off the Pebble, and just spend time with my family. It’s a challenge I’m learning to face, and the hardest part is admitting to myself that it’s a problem. It’s come up in conversation a couple times with my wife, and every time, she lets me know when I’m failing. Honesty here is the key. Not guilt, not anger, just brutal honesty of when I’m not being the best husband and dad because I’m putting work before them.
I think one great thing we did as a team, not to long ago, was to sit down and have an open discussion on expectations and work habits. We’ve all agreed that we need to tackle the balance and even when our passion get’s the best of us, learn when to turn it off and tend to our ‘non-work’ life. Getting those concerns and opinions out in the open air was very important. It’s helping with the ‘Did I work enough this week?’ internal monologue, and really allowing me to be confident in the fact that I’m giving what’s expected of me.Work/Life balance cannot be overcome on your own. It takes accountability and openness. Click To Tweet
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work for Pippin and have someone who understands the importance of family at the heart of my daily work life. I’m also blessed to have the support of my wife to do what I love to do, even if that means an odd and sometimes changing work schedule.
What are some of your work/life balance techniques? Do you have set schedule imposed on yourself? Please share something you are doing to make sure you are taking care of your life outside of work.
Featured image (Family Portrait taken by Two Loves Photography in Arizona)