Being selfish

For any of you that know me, have seen me speak, or read some of my previous posts on here, you may have noticed that I tend to work a lot. Mostly because I enjoy doing it. Whether it’s coding, writing, organising events, these are things that make me happy so it’s no surprise that I want to do them. Some of the stuff has been for the wider web community, which is really rewarding. Things like the 12 Devs of Xmas and 12 Devs events have been mine (and Anthony‘s) opportunity to give back to the community we feel so close to.

Earlier this year for a variety of reasons we made the hard decision to bring 12 Devs to a close, to stop organising events and to stop putting on the series of articles over Xmas. It was a really tough decision to make as we both enjoyed it so much, but coupled with a lot of other things we’d both been doing it became unfeasible to try to continue our beloved side-project.

Because it was something I loved doing so much, it’s understandable that I will inevitably think about doing something like it again – yes I’ve already been thinking about some sort of revival event. Then there are the people asking when I’m going to start 12 Devs up again, with the usual phrases of “surely you want to do more events”, or “this event would be cool, you’d be great at running it”. I know it’s all light-hearted but based on the way I’ve felt over the last couple of years I can’t help but feel the pressure to do something building up, and that familiar feeling of stress returning. However, now that I’ve become far too familiar with the feeling of burnout and quite how rubbish I feel when I’ve experienced it, I’m taking a different approach to things when I start to feel like this, I say no.

It’s hard to do at first. It feels rude. But after a few seconds it starts to feel good. I start to feel a bit more free. I’ve said no to making that commitment to do something, something that even though I would enjoy it would cost me hours of work and probably a lot of stress too. It feels good.

It’s not just for things around 12 Devs and the community I’ve taken a step back from either. I do some freelance work outside of my regular full time work. I enjoy it and it gives me the chance to try something new or do something I don’t usually get to do in my 9-5 job like design a website! But again, lately I’ve been doing less, I’ve been saying no to more work and in some cases essentially pricing myself out of the work semi-intentionally. In the past I’ve been happy to take the hit from a monetary perspective so I can do some more interesting work, but lately because I’m starting to value my spare time some more I’m feeling that if I’m to give up my free time I need to be paid for it too. So instead of offering to work to work for about a quarter of my usual day rate, I’ve started quoting realistically and have found that I’m not in quite as high demand anymore. I realise I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do this, but going back to the title of the post I feel it’s about time I was a little more selfish with my time so to work during my free time, I should try to make it worthwhile at least.

I’ve also been taking a new approach to my work habits in the office as well. I’m extremely fortunate to work where I am, we do amazing work, have a great culture, and I work with some fantastic people. In the past I’ve been happy to work late with them and give up my spare time to meet a tight deadline. A few of us even worked through a Saturday to get the Hoff or Not website live ready for the opening of the Cannes Lions festival. But lately I’ve been a bit more aware of the time I’m spending at the office and more often than not I’m making sure I leave on time, instead of staying late. It’s been feeling good to have my evenings back to myself for the first time in a while.

Final thoughts

Doing this hasn’t come very easy to me at all, I don’t think I’m a selfish person. I don’t think I’m very selfless either to be honest. But I know that by making these decisions and taking these steps toward being a bit more selfish is helping me. It’s helping me remember to value my free time and know that even though there’s a lot of things I want to do, or maybe that other people think I could/should be doing, I need to take a bit more time for myself and cut back on working quite so much.

But writing a blog post at 8pm on a Tuesday night is fine.