What I learnt from my vacations at age 0b100000

I just came from my 2 week-long vacations and here is my quick summary. At age 32 you just can’t handle same shit you did 10 years ago. Planning time for rest is nowadays essential for me and my wife (same age). Otherwise, I just become a whining, tired, unhappy asshole. Seriously. And this year I planned badly, unfortunately. Here is how it went.

Last year I had good vacations in September. So I planned next ones for January. I took a break from consulting work. But it was a moment before our 2nd Rails DDD Workshop. I really wanted to improve it compared to a 1st edition and I spent half of my time working on it and making it better. I liked the progress and everything went well on the workshop. BTW, there is a next edition happening soon (and if you can’t join you can now buy just the materials and access to the app and help on Slack, here is what’s inside).

There is just one thing I didn’t fully figure. That I would be tired. Just tired. Not fully burnt out but I could feel it coming. If you wonder how it feels, for me it was a lack of interest in things, I usually enjoy. A show on Netflix, meh. Playing computer games, boring. Reading a programming book, fck it. Just meh, nah, nada, no, nein, nein, nein. Complete lack of joy.

Around the beginning of the year, we decided that I am gonna change a project I work on to different one after April. So I knew I could have a break in May and that’s what we planned for with my wife. Of course, if I wanted to I could have an additional break between January and May as well. Our customers and our way of working are very flexible. But I didn’t want to. It was my own decision.

Oh boy, these were 4 long months for me. I was still doing consulting for one of our biggest customer and one that I liked very much and had a 3-year long relationship with. I wanted to do my best for them even though I knew I would be leaving soon. I wanted to be efficient for them every day. That’s what they deserved.

It was a winter season and I usually get sick at least once during winter. I tried hard not to. Too many things to plan and do. And I somehow managed to succeed.

Of course when 1st May came and it was time to start vacations I got sick. I guess my body just needed it. It just wanted a break from all the pressure I kept it under. It wasn’t a big thing, just slightly annoying. Besides, who gets cold after flying to a sunny, hot place? Apparently me :) But the funny thing is, I didn’t care. I had a good time anyway. And after 3 days it was gone.

So the biggest lesson for me was. Plan your vacations. Schedule it ahead. Know your body, know what you can handle, and plan ahead. Now that I am back, I know that in 4 months I am gonna need another break. And sure, I can stretch it into 8 months. It’s just not worth it. Now I know it.

What I really needed was just 2 weeks without any pressure to deliver, no complex mental tasks. Oh, how that let me refresh my mind. And there were two books that really helped me have a great time and I want to tell you about.

1. The Invincible by Stanisław Lem

Lem is one of the world best SF writers. I honestly forgot how much I enjoy SF recently but this book made me fall in love with it again. It’s about a starship from Earth which is challenged by a mysterious hostile intelligence. Trying to figure out an accident which happened to an identical ship before on the same planet. Amazing concepts, amazing plot, and fantastic characters.

2. Your Brain at Work by David Rock

In Your Brain at Work, the author takes readers inside the heads — literally — of a modern two-career couple as they mentally process their workday to reveal how we can better organize, prioritize, remember, and process our daily lives. Rock shows how it’s possible for this couple, and thus the reader, not only to survive in today’s overwhelming work environment but succeed in it.

This Book is full of small stories, examples of things that go wrong at work. How we often get angry or distracted and what kind of bad decisions we make because of that. Later it is explained based on neuroscience research why we make such mistakes and what can be done differently; what do we need to do to avoid them. An amazing read that will make you a better developer, a better spouse, and parent.