Keeping Yourself Fresh

Having your own business isn’t easy.  In fact, it’s the hardest thing anyone could ever attempt because the work never ends.  If you’re not doing ‘real’ work, you’re thinking about it.  How do you find the next bit of work?  What’s my next article going to be?  What product should I work on?  The questions are endless.

Our industry, in particular, isn’t known for it’s healthy habits.  We spend way too many hours in front of computer monitor.  My wife half-joked at last years Real World conference that you could tell who the programmers were because they were all pasty-white.  And that’s not a slam on anyone because she’s a programmer too and has been for longer than me.

Last Fall I was working a lot of hours.  I was tired all the time and I just felt miserable.  I was turning down work which is always a bad sign.  I knew I had to do something.

The first thing I did was hire an employee.  Some of you probably feel that’s a bad idea but I found an awesome developer.  In fact, he’s better at a lot of stuff than I am which is great because as a company I can now pursue projects that he wants to do as well as those that I have a passion for.  It also means we (collectively) can help out on some open source REALbasic projects.  So now, two of us can do more than just one of me was doing.  That was my first step.

For my second step I started going to the gym again.  I’m no longer funding a service I don’t use.  I go every other day and do a combination of weights and aerobic activity.  I’ve lost 15 pounds and I have more energy than I’ve had in a while.  Perhaps the best part of the gym is that I go to the office and do better code in less time.  My thoughts are focused and I’m generally sure about what I’m doing.

For many years I studied Aikido (earned a brown belt) and one of the many things I learned in its teachings is that Mind and Body are one.  Where the mind goes the body will follow and the reverse is true.  Where the body goes the mind will follow.  So if you don’t exercise your body you don’t exercise your mind.  I loved Aikido until my knees gave out but the truth still holds – you need to exercise your whole body.

Whatever it is that you enjoy that is not centered around the computer – do it!  If that means pounding nails while helping build a house, do it!  I know several developers/business owners that do that for fun.  Join a gym.  Join a league.  Go take a yoga or Thai Chi class.  Take an adult education class at the local community college.

Just do something different.   Something that’s NOT computer related.  Give your mind something else to ponder about for a while.  You’ll be amazed at how much better  you feel and how much better your code is.

So what do you do to refresh yourself?