You Matter

I’m not sure if it’s a couple of talks that I recently saw at Peers Conference or maybe the fact that I’m just getting older, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about work/life balance and personal health.

Work/Life Balance

Since we all love the work we do and can work virtually anywhere, it’s really easy to get in the habit of working too much. I remember when I first graduated college and started working in the web industry; I wanted everyone to know that I was eager and had a great work ethic. So I spent many late nights working, worked while eating lunch, and was spending my free time reading work-related books and blogs.

Sure, these things show that I have a great work ethic, but they also set a bad precedent. By working extra hours, I have reduced the time (not hours, real time) that it took me to build something. So during the planning phase for the next project, they will see that I completed a previous site in X number of weeks, and I can certainly build a comparable one in the same amount of time, right?

Sometimes people wear working a lot of extra hours as a badge of honor. But in my opinion, it should be looked at as a failure. It means that something failed during the process of the project. It could have been in the planning or execution, either way, something went wrong. Our goal should be to work normal hours. Working crazy hours and not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health. Remember, we aren’t saving lives; we are building websites. So remember to live your life outside of work.

One of the most influential talks at Peers was a talk by Greg Baugues entitled Devs and Depression. He has given the talk before, and I would absolutely recommend taking a half hour to watch the talk. He touches on a lot of important issues specific to our industry.

Diet

Food is fuel. What you eat is giving you the energy to do your job and live your life. So if you make bad food choices, you will feel sluggish, unmotivated, and dare I say, lazy. I’m certainly not suggesting that you can’t eat food that is bad for you, but just take a second to think what you are consuming.

Recently, I have started eating organic whenever I can. It's true that it is a massive and expensive change; it has changed a lot about what food I buy and where I buy it from. But think about this: would you rather eat a piece of chicken from a chicken that has been trapped in a small coop and never moved around or from one that has been free to roam around a pasture? The choice was easy for me and really changed the way that I think about food.

It’s tough. Working in an office means that people bring in all kinds of sweets, and at Viget we also have free lunch every Friday. So just be smart about your decisions. Even if the meal isn’t that healthy, try and have fruits and vegetables with every meal to balance it out. A balanced diet will improve your energy and generally make you happier.

Soda

How many more studies do you need to see regarding the risks of drinking soda (and energy drinks) before you stop? Obesity, kidney damage, diabetes, heart problems, and the list goes on. Seriously, just Google it. Many companies offer free soda as a perk (even Viget does), but just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean you have to drink it. There is this crazy drink called water, which is super refreshing to drink and isn’t slowly killing you.

Exercise

Think about how stagnant we are during a typical day:

  • in the car on the commute to work
  • all day at work
  • the commute home
  • watching TV
  • sleeping

Guys, that’s bad.

Personally, I’ve been trying to improve that by switching to a standing desk and reinstating the push-up club. During working hours, we have started doing push-ups at the top of every hour, whatever amount each person is comfortable doing. We have a Campfire room, and I use IFTTT to send a message to Campfire every hour (although sometimes it’s a little late).

Push-Up Club Campfire Room

Tommy started to mix in situps, and Antoine Butler also pointed me to this short workout. These things are small, but stuff like this gets you up and moving every hour.

Now, that is just a little something throughout the day to get our heart rate up, but regular exercise is still a must. I don’t think I need to list off the health benefits, but it’s also a great release to get your mind off of work.

Viget is always trying to find ways to make employees healthier and happier, and we are in the process of building an app that integrates with FourSquare to monitor your gym check-ins. Once you have fulfilled the monthly minimum number of check-ins, you will be reimbursed for the monthly gym membership fee.

Health Care

You can do all the things I’ve talked about above to improve your well-being and get sick less often, but there still may be times when you need a medical professional for assistance. Viget is super awesome and provides us with 100% health care, so find a company that cares about your well-being, and stick with them. Did I mention we are hiring?

So take charge of your health. Even if it is just a small incremental change, it will make a difference. Remember, you matter.

Trevor is a senior front-end developer who specializes in writing bulletproof code for clients including the World Wildlife Fund and GoPole.

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