Today I read Scott Hanselmans blog post about disconnecting. It surprised me. I'm going to dissect his post a bit as I want to write down my own view of a number of points he touches on, how different my view is from his and how I look at his worries and fears. This is in no way to provoke Scott (as I've been reading his blog for a while now and I like him a lot).
Disconnecting can be hard for a number of reasons, in my experience. There's the usual obvious stuff like the fact that we're literally addicted to the serotonin rush of social media's faux urgency,...
I'm 28 and I've only recently started using social media. Yes, as a developer this is odd, because I should be trying all this stuff out. But I'm a bit of a private person and from the moment I heard about Myspace (yes, I've heard friends talk about it), I didn't really get it. I had email and phone to set up gatherings and still do to this day.
This makes it much more easy to disconnect, since I have not much to leave behind. To me, it's not such a big deal if I reply today or tomorrow. You'll get an answer, but when it suits me. This is the view I have of the platforms I use. They enable me to get in touch with people, but I won't let it be a cause of stress.
Have they seen and liked my post, will I still have all of my 4 followers tomorrow! Aaargh.
I told myself if I ever get to that point, I'll quit with social media because at that point it'll cost me more than it's gaining me. The flip side is that I'll probably never be as popular as Scott and that's ok.
...but there's also aspects that aren't talked about as much. Like, will I have a job when I get back?
Will he have a job... Holy crap. Scott is such a well known public figure (and he's doing a good job of being a driving force behind the community) that I think dozens of companies will be throwing offers at his feet to get him to come work for them. As I see it, Scott is a great asset to Microsoft and they'd be sorry to see him go.
But lets get back to me, because that's why you're here, aren't you, dear reader. Since I have not yet attained greatness as the great Scott has, I've planned for rainy days (read as: loose job quickly). At the moment, my savings contain enough money for me continue my lifestyle for about 6 to 12 months. It helps that I don't have a lot of expenses besides mortgage and groceries (and a girlfriend). Which means that if I get get fired, I could theoretically sit on my lazy ass for nigh a year and not have to worry. I want to increase this number of months to multiple years so that I don't actually have to work.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. My meagre savings also mean that I don't have to worry about loosing my job. If my boss ever says that I have to do a job I really don't like, I have leverage. I'm not dependant on my salary.
But Scott really likes this job. Who wouldn't, with a job like that. And I like my job too. I'm a proud RealDolmen consultant, but if they would fire me (and I see no immediate reason why they would), I would find another job I can get exited about. There are a lot of jobs and positions, and there will be others that will be equally fun and rewarding. It'll just take time to find them. And that's where that safety net from my savings comes into play again. See how I got that thing covering me from several different angles.
Who will work on Project X without me?
This one is easy: somebody or nobody. If it's important enough, somebody will carry on the torch. If it isn't (or it hasn't picked up momentum yet), then it'll be waiting untouched for you to continue where you left off. So either there's been progress and you'll have to review it or you can continue with what you were doing.
So my advice to Scott and everybody else who has insecurities about going on a vacation or disconnecting: don't. I know it's easier said than done, not worrying. I've spent years trying to perfect the art and I'm nowhere near perfection. But vacation, a few days or weeks away from your regular duties and worries, is a basic human right in my opinion. And both my employer and the Belgian government share that view as they give me x number of vacation days to spend as I see fit. So next time you go on vacation, leave all your worries about your job at your workplace and enjoy some time with family and friends.