Want a Better Work/Life Balance? Use Jira at Home. #TSQL2sday

I’m only half-joking. Hear me out.

If you’re frustrated at how much you work, and how little time you spend with your family & friends, think about how much planning and task management you’re required to do at work. You’ve probably got a ticketing system that tracks a backlog of work you need to do. Someone monitors it, and you have to report your status regularly to them. You get fancy burn down charts that track your progress.

You get what you measure.

You’re being closely measured at work, so you hustle your rear end off at work, trying to get your tasks done. You work later and later, and put in time on weekends. It eats into your personal time, but you feel obligated to do it because work has effectively gamified your life.

Track your issues at home, too.

No, I certainly don’t recommend using Jira – I wanna poke my eyes with a rusty fork whenever I have to use that thing – but use something.

For day-to-day tactical home productivity, I’ve been using RememberTheMilk.com for over a decade, and here’s how I use it. I got started by using the productivity philosophy Getting Things Done, but that’s overkill when you’re just getting started. The point is to use any categorized to-do system that’s accessible from anywhere (including your phone), and gives you high-level metrics of how many to-dos you have in each category.

For longer-term home productivity, I use Steve Kamb’s Epic Life Quest strategy. I make a list of things I wanna do in the future, keep track of what I’ve done, and each time I finish 5 of those tasks, I celebrate finishing one level of my life.

I’ve been using this approach for over a decade, and now I have a wonderful new work/life balance problem. I kept focusing on the life stuff that I wanted to accomplish, and in 2021, I haven’t gotten enough work done – because I’ve been letting my life tasks take over my work time. We moved to Iceland in January for a 6-9 month vacation, and since getting here, I’ve done way, way less work than normal. We’re moving back to San Diego in October, and I’ll be getting my work/life balance back under control.

Thanks to Tjay Belt for hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday. The topic was work/life balance, and if you’d like to read more tips from the database community, check out the comments on that post.

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21 Comments. Leave new

  • great ideas. thinking outside the box. plan it.

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  • Hi Brent. Thanks for touching on this. That’s right, it’s a second nature at work to measure tasks completed, on queue, or coming up. But I/we don’t take seriously our personal tasks. I use Asana at work and I better use this resource to boost my home/personal tasks.

    Reply
  • I love how this flips the usual approach to work / life on its head.

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  • Kanban. Worked so well for me when I was in manufacturing management (printing industry) that I basically made a consulting career out of implementing it for new clients.
    Then I left manufacturing (didn’t really like the typical owners I ended up working for as a consultant), retrained in Information Systems, and used Kanban again as a developer. Worked great in both domains. Using Kanban, I was head and shoulders above my tech peers when it came to managing development tasks.

    Reply
  • Hey Brent, just out of curiosity but why San Diego when you’re back in US? Why not another better/cheaper$$ location?

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  • Big difference is that it is much more high level Kanban list than when I was working. Major goals across the top as categories, task steps under each category. No sticky notes, just write and erase as needed under the categories. My categories last year were “Electronics Studies (for fun),Algebra (for helping the 15 year old in school),Astronomy Studies (I belong to a club), and Workout (rowed 1Million meters in 2019 but got Covid in 2020. Obviously not portable but I did use online Kanban sites when I was working…
    To be honest, since I got Covid last year, progress on many of them went to hell. but I was really happy with my progress before that. Having the Kanban white board up really did help me day to day to follow through.

    P.S. I lived on B St. (up the hill between Balboa and the barrio) for 3 years in the late 90’s, sure was fun!

    Reply
  • When I’m away from work, I’m “productivity tool” hesitant. The joy of not working is the joy of not being forced to utilize these tools which, may come in various forms with questionable implementations and cruddy enforcement. For me, this is a difficult one to get beyond.

    Reply
    • that might change a year or so after you retire – that was my experience. a year of random laziness, and then I decided there were things I really wanted to accomplish during my retirement – plus I wanted my 15 year old to see the example…

      Reply
      • Yeah, I agree – I had a couple of points in my 20s and 30s where I found myself with a lot of free spare time, and I realized, “Oh, wait, my life is just sliding by here!”

        Right now, wherever you’re at in life, these are likely some of the best times you’ll ever have from now on. Your body will degrade, and your mind will degrade. Do what you can, right now.

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        • Good points Ken and Brent, a lot of truth there and I can see it. So, I’ll see if I can get my mind and my body to agree on something and go from there. Thanks and cheers!

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      • I have been semi-retired since the pandemic started and I need to get my personal tasks prioritized and measured. Weight loss is a good example of needing to track metrics. If all you are counting are pounds you won’t lose any. If you are counting calories, fat grams or carbohydrates and holding yourself accountable, you will lose weight.

        Laziness is part of the problem but the other part is now having the time to read technical posts. I find that I am spending hours trying to catch up with my inbox. I have three personal technical tasks I want to complete and they are all in various stages of completion because I love to learn. I need to set priorities.

        Reply
  • Tasks has been added to teams for office 365 subscribers, my wife and I use that. Swit.io had a free demo level for you MS haters but I do prefer the tasks. Actually I love Jira over ADO, especially for complex workflows.
    Just wish I could get a really cheap hosted version.

    Reply
  • I’m so glad you made sure to clarify that you hate Jira. I was *this* close to unsubscribing

    Reply

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