I’ll survive. But after receiving an invite to a very special event on 11/4, I just happened to look at my calendar and was moderately shocked to discover the fact that I’m likely to be travelling significant parts of the next four weeks straight – this after a period of relatively heavy travel. This week it’s San Fran, next week it’s Maine (maybe), the week after it’s Boston, Dallas and NY, and then it’s San Fran again (maybe).
I’m often asked how much we travel in our profession, and my honest answer is a fair amount, but that it’s manageable. Even the mentioned travel qualifies in that sense, because for the most part I’m not away from home for more than a few days at a time. That’s far more reasonable than my typical schedule from my SI days, which was up at 4 AM on Monday morning to catch a plane (thus ruining Sunday night) and onsite somewhere until very late Thursday or midday Friday – meaning I’d be home for about 8 days per month, total. You might notice, as well, that I’m no longer in that business.
But as Nat says, travel does without question impact your social life and the ability of your friends to count on you for certain things – something I want all of them to be able to do. The social events I know about in advance, I schedule around. My best friend’s defending his dissertation on the 10th of November, for example, and there’s nothing that would get me to miss that. Unfortunately, at least in my social circle, events tend not to be planned on the same horizon as speaking engagements or conferences (maybe due to poor calendaring services? 😉 and thus lose out more often than not to work commitments.
The trouble is that it’s not at all that I have a problem with the events (particularly the ones where we get paid ;); I couldn’t be more honored to speak at the Zend Conference, for example, and the invite I received this morning is greatly appreciated. But at the same time, you have to try and establish some boundaries to ensure that you neither get burnt out nor jeopardize the things that are really important to you: i.e., the people in your life. I’d rather not have to go through some of what Brad did to learn how important the work/life balance is. It’s not all touchy feely, either; there’s a tangible impact to our business when I’m out of the office for long stretches of time – I’ve got about half a dozen things on my ToInstallandTest list that I just haven’t had time to get to.
So here’s my deal: following a previous commitment I’ve made – and am looking forward to, incidentally – to speak on December 14th, I’m going to ground until the end of January. A week or two of that period will be my traditional New Year’s vaca anyway, but I need more time off than that. I’ll look forward to seeing all of you out on the road in Feb 😉 For those of you who travel a lot, how do you manage it? Any rules you try to follow to maintain the work/life balance?