Healthy hacking

After years of teaching programming, writing about programming and doing programming, last autumn there was a situation at my work where I had to step up and take the leadership for the Helsinki office of Sesca. Since then I've been doing anything but coding: sitting in meetings, checking my budget, hiring more people like crazy (yes, we're hiring, every day) and trying to keep up with everything that comes with managing a unit in one of the fastest growing companies in Finland.

In April we've finally gotten to a situation where I could take a weeks vacation, plus there was Easter, plus the 1st of May celebrations. Time to relax, spend some days at a spa with the Mrs, buy some missing furniture, relax some more. It came to a point I realised I could spend some hours coding on the Drupal module I maintain. I took one of the simplest tasks piled up in the issue tracker, and for the first time in 6 months committed a new funtion to the module.

Then it hit me. This was the first time in 6 months I wasn't thinking about work - at all. Being a manager is more stressfull than I had imagined. You always have 50 things on your mind. Most of them are small things, but the sheer amount of things going through your head in one day is overwhelming. At night when I go to sleep it is easy to think about the things you have to do ASAP in the morning. Or you remember 5 things you forgot to do today. And some of the things you need to do tomorrow may not always be that pleasant even: Telling him/her no you can't go on such a long vacation at such a time; trying to fix things so that certain 2 persons won't end up in the same team, since they don't get along; finding out whether you can trust a team member or not. I've even fired one employee, I can tell you, it makes you physically sick, and this wasn't even a hard case.

Constantly there seems to be something work related on my mind. And since I've felt so stressed and tired, I had given up on the idea of properly maintaining my Drupal module. But now I realise, that was exactly the wrong thing to do. It turns out that a simple yet challenging programming task is exactly what my brain needs to relax. Just to sit down with my laptop, no interruptions, nothing in my head, except the problem to solve. Ahh, what a wonderful feeling. It was the best nights sleep I had in months.

Until now programming always had some other role in my life: I was learning some language because I was a student; then because I was a teacher (irony :-); then because I needed it for my Masters Thesis; then because I needed it for work. Then I was programming for work. And then I stopped programming. I always enjoyed learning and I always enjoyed my work, but since there always seemed to be some other reason why I was doing it, I had never realised: programming makes me happy!

So expect to see regular enhancments for the Footnotes module in the future. And keep hacking, it's healthy for you!

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