Monday, November 17, 2014

Self Care

Today I set up the burn board and powered through a bunch of chores around the house. I did this because another day of jobhunting seemed less appealing than scrubbing the stovetop and vacuuming the carpets (which in and of itself says something about jobhunting, I think). As a joke, a assigned points to my chore list based on how long I thought each thing would take, and then powered through them, marking them done as I went along. My partner asked how long my sprint was (one week, obviously), and at that point it became a running joke that we're now an Agile Household. Given that we both think this is hilarious, it's likely to go into the in-joke repertoire with "Stand Back Six Pack" around the house.

Today was a back-to-work day for both myself and my partner, as we had both basically taken the last week off to play videogames and just be present with each other. Which is important in a relationship. And then I promptly forgot about taking care of myself today.

I am not a big breakfast person (except Sunday Brunch, but that's a Thing here in Portland), so I usually force myself to have toast with peanut butter with my morning coffee or tea so I don't end up making bad choices later in the day. Not so today; today I realized suddenly at around 1 PM that not only had I not eaten anything for breakfast or lunch today, I also went light on dinner last night because of an upset stomach. I realized it because when I stood up to go and get clothes out of the washer I was suddenly light-headed and shaking, and nearly fell over.

I quickly heated up some soup and made a grilled cheese with salami slices, which seemed to even out my shakes, and then I went and took a nap. Because self-care is important, especially now that I'm no longer 20-something and able to eat anything on any schedule.

The IT industry often forgets about self-care, even at places that claim that "work-life balance" is important. The expectation is often that free snacks and beer and lunch on certain days will make up for the expectation of "crunch time" and deadlines, forgetting that even short stretches of long hours are fantastically detrimental to creativity, productivity, and long-term happiness.

The culture of IT is often a Young Male culture of Macho Bullshit, where staying up all night to do something is considered a bonus, when in fact it's likely to be a bad decision even if the person doing it is good at the work. For every hour over eight worked by the average human being, productivity drops by 30%. For every hour over 10, it's 80%. Also, it's bad for brains and brain chemistry to be taxed without breaks.

All of this is to say that self-care is fantastically important. It's better for the person, it's better for the employee, and it's better for the company, too. Well-rested, well-fed employees are going to be much better at finding and fixing issues, and avoiding them in the first place.

So now my burn board also includes 'toast and tea' and 'lunch' as items. Here's hoping I can keep up my velocity!