Sunday, May 31, 2015

Github anemia, or How my activity is hidden from view

For just under two years now, I have worked for a company that exclusively uses Github for source control management.  I'd had a Github account prior to that, so I used that account for contributions.  I didn't really think very much about it until recently, when I started standing up more of my own repositories in Github using that account.  It occurred to me that my public account and "private" account tell very different stories about me as a developer.

Here's a snapshot of my public activity over the past year:

If you believe what this graph says, I haven't been very busy as a developer this past year.  I've been busier over the past couple of months, but all things considered, still not very busy.  Only two commits a day?  Most of the activity happening during the week of April 15th?!

Juxtapose that with a snapshot of my overall activity (including contributions to private repositories) over the past year:

This graph seems to tell a better story.  I've been relatively busy over the past year, averaging about three commits to repositories per day.  As a side note, I was especially busy this past January, around the time of our Guest Stay project launch.  I know it's hard to imagine, but not all software launches go exactly as planned.  ;)

Granted, I'm not nearly as busy as lots of other developers.  As it turns out, my hobbies for the past year have not included many software development activities.  For regular readers of this blog, that won't be a surprise.  For all you new folks, most of my free time is spent with my family, gaming, reading, and working towards physical and mental fitness in general.

My working hypothesis is that I'm a better all-around person, and as a result a better worker, when I'm growing along different vectors.  Focusing all of my time and effort toward improving my software development prowess would yield growth in that direction, but not as much overall fulfillment.

This is not just my hypothesis, by the way.  A CEO at one of my prior jobs, after he discovered I'd been working 16-hour days for about 6 months and wound up in the hospital, told me that life wasn't meant to be lived that way.  He recommended the 8/8/8 approach: 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, and 8 hours "play," where "play" was everything else that helped me grow as a person.  Another VP at another company once told me that nothing we were working on was life-or-death (which isn't true of everyone, but is definitely true of the type of software I typically work on), so I shouldn't be killing myself in order to do my job.

My sincere hope is that I've finally learned about that balance, about how it contributes to the well-being of not only me but all the people around me, coworkers included.

There are certainly a lot of software developers that do software development purely for fun, that would (and do!) do it regardless of resource constraints, and that use it as a way to let of steam.  I sincerely wish more power to those people, because they make my professional life easier, and I greatly appreciate being a part of the teams those folks are on.  I just hope they won't judge my Github anemia too harshly in return.  :)

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