Balancing your home and work life can be terribly difficult, especially when you love your job.

Shut It Off

Last night my wife and I went on a date, first out to dinner and then to grab a movie to watch at home. Once back home she was getting ready to watch the movie while I popped the dvd in and queued it up.

I popped open my laptop and noticed our work chat had been blowing up and instantly got sucked in. My coworkers were hacking on and doing some awesome stuff with async and EventMachine and I immediately wanted to be a part of it.

Instead I closed my laptop just in time to see my wife coming into the living room ready to watch the movie. This wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right decision, one I haven’t made hundreds of times in the past, to the detriment of our relationship.

Spending time with your loved ones (in my case my wife and dogs) must take priority over your work life. What kind of message do you send to them if you always leave that laptop open? Not that you are dedicated, or that you are providing for them, you are sending the message that you care more about work than you care about them. They don’t get over this easily, trust me.

I’m not saying you can’t work at home or in the evenings, I’m saying that its important to set aside and dedicate the majority of your home life to spending time with and sharing your life with those you love.

Dream At Home

One of the reasons it has been so easy for me to make the wrong decision in the past, to work late every night, is that I love my work, I’m excited about it, and often that excitement feels greater than anything I’m excited about at home.

It has been important for my wife and I to find things that we’re both excited about, which in our case is food and travel, and spend time talking about or doing those things every day. We spend anywhere from one to three hours in the kitchen every night, cooking, sharing stories from our day, sharing our dreams and just being best friends. No computers (except to play some music), no hacking, just spending quality time together enjoying each others company.

Exceptions to the Rule

Having said all that, I still choose to work late two or three evenings every week. I feel like (and my wife agrees) that it is hard to get ahead in life, hard to take things to the next level, if you don’t kick it up a notch every once in awhile.

My wife and I don’t plan on living in Elkhart Indiana the rest of our lives, we dream of moving to Italy, so we feel like burning the midnight oil a couple nights a week to make that dream happen sooner is totally worth it.

The last thing I would caution on working at home is that you prepare for it, warn those who may depend on you so they can plan accordingly. I also try and pitch in a little extra effort that day, making sure chores are done, whatever I can do so she doesn’t feel like she’s on her own.

P.S. I had no idea it was the National Day of Unplugging when I wrote this.