I've been trying to figure out what to do with myself over the next five years. I spent the previous five years juggling a day job, plus part-time freelancing, plus trying to build my own various products. The fifteen years before that i was a straight one-job developer. Simpler life but still pretty busy.
Lately, however, I've started to question the whole basic premise of working all the freakin' time. It's not just about keeping busy. I enjoy feeling busy, learning stuff, and building things. The problem is that I end up with a permanent backlog of hundreds of little things to do. Add this little feature, upload a new release, try out this other code framework...
Sure I can take breaks and pause for a few days, but I'm never really "off". There's always a dozen things I should be working on and if I don't tend to them, my work queue continues to grow and grow.
Downtime feels like wasted time.
I remember back in my earlier days, before my software career, I spent hours and hours reading books, writing stories, learning guitar, writing my own music. It's hard now to imagine how much time I "wasted" on all that, just puttering away with no deadlines, no backlog, no agenda. It was the most creative I've ever been.
These days if I try to do something creative, I'll focus on it for half an hour, then get distracted worrying about the "real work" I should be tackling. Sometimes I do have a valid point, but usually there is no work more urgent. It's just an old reflex that I have to unlearn.
I'm pretty sure that's the difference between a workaholic and a normal sane person: the ability to sit back and just play.
While I'm still not sure what the next five years will look like, I do know that I need more of that lackadaisical joker kid riding around in my day-to-day.