Thursday, December 4, 2008

At least I'm not bored

I just read 10 Essential Steps to Take BEFORE You’re Laid Off after seeing the link in Cosmin Stejerean's tweet. (He also links to three more in Hacker News--I also very much disagree with #13; some very interesting comments follow that articulate my distaste better than I could.)

I practiced a lot of these while I was at Altera. (I instinctively knew they made me more marketable professionally.) I'm quite sure that many of these made it much easier to get interviews and find my new job when I decided it was time to move on. I spent quite a bit of time updating my skills: before I joined Altera (in Sept. 2002) I had never used Python, Ruby, or CSS. I had limited experience with Java. I studied many other technologies, practices and tools over those six years (such as Test-Driven Development, Scrum, Django, Javascript, AJAX, etc.). I started this blog, and PyPap. I created and updated my LinkedIn profile. I started using Twitter and Facebook. I continued running regularly, and kept myself in good shape. And almost all this was on my own time, since I was careful to "Avoid being laid off in the first place". I put in at least a full eight hours of work (often more like nine or ten) every weekday, and was careful to avoid getting accustomed to doing personal tasks while at work. I constantly juggled my very limited available time, since my wife gave birth to our three kids over those six years.

The juggling has become even more difficult now that I have so much to learn at VMware. I need to make sure I focus on "Avoid being laid off in the first place", but I don't want to drop everything else. I want to find time for "Do extracurricular work that showcases your abilities". (I have no shortage of ideas for that work.) And the ideas for things to blog about (both here and on PyPap) are piling up. I just don't know where to find the time. I already get up between 5:30 and 6:00 so I can work on personal projects when I'm at my best in the morning. But there's so much to learn at work that most mornings I just end up starting work early. I'm usually too exhausted after the kids are asleep to do anything that takes any real mental energy. (And I need to go to bed early so I can get up early.) The kids get priority on weekends since they get so little of my time during the week. (And that's the only time I have for chores.)

At least I'm not bored.