I need a hobby.
Since it’s Thanksgiving break, I’ve had the opportunity over the past few days to sort of hang around the house a bit. Of course there’s always some work to do for my clients, but I decided to (surprise!) take a vacation. I took care of a few minor things that needed doing, then sat down to figure out what I could do “for fun”.
I worked on our family Christmas cards– always an exciting annual tradition– and they’re off to the printer as of this afternoon. In a few weeks we’ll get the final cards back and can spend an evening stuffing envelopes and slapping labels and stamps on them. After ordering the cards, I organized a few things, read some blogs, came up with a new backup/archive scheme for my data files, and then sort of ran out of ideas. What next?
For the past few years I’ve repeatedly had the resolution that I would scale back the hours that I work. For over a decade I’d put in 50+ hours a week, including every Saturday. Although I enjoy my job and generally like the challenges I tackle, after ten years it does get a bit tiring. This year, I accomplished the first of these goals: I stopped working on Saturdays. It was kind of cool to have a bit more of a weekend than I’d been accustomed to for many years. I’ve even had some success in not working so much in the evenings for the past few months. Before long, I may only be working 40 hours a week!
Now, as 2014 looms, I wonder if I can take the next step: not working on Fridays. At Zing we always work at home on Fridays, and for a few years I’ve thought it would be great to take off on Fridays during the summer so I’d have time to bike or hike or just hang around outside with the kids. As it turns out, they tend to spend their summer vacations with friends. I discovered that I didn’t really have much to do on Fridays, so I would inevitably head downstairs to my office and knock out some work projects.
Interestingly, things are finally in place so I may actually be able to accomplish that goal. Brent has taken over many of the day-to-day scheduling and project management tasks I’d been doing for many years. He’s also taking on more responsibility with new business, estimates, and proposals. Brian has decided he’d like to step into a role as a technical architect, leading many of the larger development decisions we make as a team. In theory, as the two of them continue expanding their roles in these areas, there’s less for me to do in the day-to-day business of the company. Of course I’ll still go into the office and handle the various questions and crises that seem to pop up every day. I’ll probably continue doing some programming work here and there (since I enjoy it). But if things go according to plan, it may be possible for me to truly walk away from my desk on Fridays.
As the last couple of days have shown, that means I’m going to need to find something to do. Unlike Laralee and Kyra, I can’t sit on the couch for hours reading a book. I enjoy reading but find that I can only do it for perhaps an hour a day. I also get bored of watching movies or TV shows. It’s nice now and then, but certainly not a noble pursuit. In the winter months it’s harder to get outside and do things. I don’t have (or want, really) a gym membership; I don’t enjoy exercising just for the sake of exercising.
One thought: I could get back into writing. The last time I did any writing was around the time Alex was born: I started working on a full novel. After about a chapter, the project sort of fizzled and I kept telling myself that I’d get back into it someday. Perhaps this is someday. I still have some ideas bouncing around my head.
Alex told me I should write a computer game that’s like Minecraft in that it’s pretty simplistic, immensely popular, and ends up producing a fortune. I’m not much of a gamer, and I think most people would agree that Minecraft is one of those things that surprised everyone, including its author. So despite Alex’s ambitions to inherit a multi-million-dollar game empire from me, I don’t think that’s going to be a direction I take.
I enjoy photography, although I don’t have half the talent of Thom or my friend Jason. I find that I’m just not “artistic” in that way. My photos tend to end up as desktop backgrounds on my computer from time to time, or a poster-sized print in my office, but little more than that. I certainly couldn’t do commercial photography.
I enjoy hacking on Linux systems and messing with servers (as long as I don’t inadvertently bring down one of my clients’ web sites). But that’s pretty close to what I do at work, and I feel like a hobby should be very different from work. It wouldn’t be very exciting if I spent my Fridays in my basement office sitting at the computer.
I’ve thought about re-learning calculus. I always enjoyed math, and three-dimensional calculus (integrations of solid functions) was my favorite. I also had a good time messing with fractals and chaos theory back in high school and early college. Having math as a hobby would certainly let me keep my status as a first-class geek.
A few years ago Laralee and I taught a science class to second-graders in the local elementary school. I really enjoyed that, particularly because the kids were so excited to learn about lasers and magnetism and rocketry and the solar system. If I had Fridays off, I could volunteer at the school and teach some science. Maybe Laralee would be my “assistant” again.
Anyway, there are a ton of possibilities– I just need to figure out which ones are right for me. And of course I have to actually stop working so much…