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Work-life balance as a software engineer and content creator

Work-life balance as a software engineer and content creator

Millennials and Gen-Zers have a reputation for not working hard enough, but I’d beg to differ. We are working hard holding multiple jobs, acquiring passive income, and strategically job-hopping to earn higher incomes. As a baby millennial – born just before the start of Generation Z – I embrace the idea of simultaneously working, experiencing happiness, and building wealth, but it’s not always easy.

Before landing my role at GitHub as a Developer Advocate, it was hard to balance my passions for content creation, teaching, building community, and coding for fun with my full-time job as a software engineer.

Life as a developer advocate

As a Developer Advocate, I can do all the things I consider fun and enriching during the workday and get paid for it. Since then, my work-life balance has significantly improved. Don’t be fooled; Although rewarding, between open source contributions, tech conferences, Twitter spaces, blog posts, podcasts, and meetings, developer advocacy is a notoriously draining role.

Still, outside of my day job, I work on various projects, including:

  • Building a community supporting women of color learning to code called G{Code}
  • Experimenting with different mediums like starting a podcast with my husband about our tech journeys
  • Publishing my monthly newsletter about code and community

And more importantly, a factor people neglect to mention when they speak about work-life balance; I want to sustain my health, relationships, and overall happiness.

Balancing it all

To reduce my chances of burnout, I’m learning to manage my time. My current process is simple. Each week, my team and I post our top 5 goals for the week. Additionally, on a Trello board, I write down my daily goals for work, health, personal brand, and hobbies. My goals are often lofty, so I mindfully give myself grace. Anything I didn’t finish for the day, I can complete the following day. My work will always exist, and my to-do list will grow longer, but investing time in my relationships and health is my top priority.

Tracking my work

While I place a high value on my health, friends, and family, my ambition to empower software engineers and my desire to achieve personal career success continues to grow. I try to maximize my productivity to accomplish a lot in a limited time. For example, within my first four months as a Developer Advocate, I wrote 18 blog posts, among other tasks. It’s not easy to produce a lot of work, but it’s even harder to remember your accomplishments, especially during performance evaluations.

Fortunately, I don’t have to struggle to recall all my deliverables for the past six months because I use Polywork.

After I speak at a conference, write a blog post, host a Twitter Space, or record a podcast episode, I document the activity in Polywork. I also categorize the activities by collection. Every six months, I review my Polywork, leverage the collections to filter my work activities, and include my activities in my performance evaluations.

As I progress in my career at my current company, Polywork serves as a consolidated, easily shared record of my growth on the job and outside of work hours.

Rizel is a Junior Developer Advocate at GitHub. She moonlights as the Director of Programs at G{Code} House, an organization aimed at teaching women of color and non-binary people of color to code. Rizel believes in leveraging vulnerability, honesty, kindness, and open source methodologies as means to educate early-career developers.