By: Ben Knier, developer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Life in the tech industry can be tempestuous.

Quality time away from work is just as, if not more important for career growth…

Whether you’ve been in the game for 30 years or are just starting out, staying on top of the latest trends, devices, programming languages, and everything else that goes into web development is part of being the best developer you can be. On top of that, you have to infuse those changes into your projects, lest you fall behind the times. With that in mind, you can’t just go to a conference for a day to get a break from the hubbub of the office: you have to engage with the speaker(s) and absorb the content. You have to follow blogs, read articles, watch tutorials, and take courses in order to bring the latest and greatest back to your customer (after all, that’s what they’re paying you for).

In a profession where processes and protocols change more frequently than my son’s diapers, it’s easy for any developer to become overwhelmed by it all (particularly one as green as myself). Some people simply can’t handle it: they bow out before their career takes off. Others will stick it out for a time, but will ultimately either drive themselves crazy trying to keep it together (think Bing Crosby when he first took on the farming life in “Holiday Inn”), or will stop growing as a developer and produce the same site over and over, with no regard to improvements and changes in the industry. The ones who will stick it out, however, are the ones who can use “the Force” to bring balance to their inner universe.

For me personally, I like to balance the speed of a web development career with what most people would call an uneventful, laid-back lifestyle. I’m a homebody: I prefer to spend my time away from wisnet at home with my family rather than going out. I have a couple acres of land that I enjoy mowing every five days in an unincorporated village where the average resident is in his/her 60s. My neighbors and I make a point of stopping to talk when we see each other outside or lend a hand when we see each other struggling with something. We even know each other by our first names (isn’t that a novelty nowadays).

My wife, son, and I spend most evenings outside away from all the screens (I spend the majority of the day in front of three after all). Whether we’re playing yard games, shooting basketballs, or sitting around a campfire looking out at the cornfield and listening to the crickets, we’re spending quality time together. More importantly, we are actively present while spending that time together. After all, family is even more important than work, so I strive to make sure that my family receives just as much attention as my career.

On top of quality family time, I enjoy reading and exercising. Science-fiction and fantasy novels, when joined with my over-active imagination, are an escape from both the rigors and doldrums of everyday life. My daily 5:00am weight-training session functions as my “me-time” and helps me shake loose from the shackles of frustration and stress.

In short, those are the activities and the lifestyle that balance out my fast-paced career. The peace and quiet of a relatively screen-free home-life gives me the ability to focus intently on my screen-laden work-life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.