DBAs and the Career-Life Balance

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item DBAs and the Career-Life Balance

    Brad M. McGehee

  • I can barely stop laughing.

    Point 1: Steve just recently posted the exact opposite article about how we need to spend MORE time working (phrased as "learning" however) on our own time in order to be successful.

    Point 2: You post this about how we need to spend LESS time working and more with our families.

    Point 3: I just spent the last 24 hours working on an Excel spreadsheet that would allow an HR employee to press a button and create an XML file so we can load new hires into our ERP system. Of that 24 hours, 3 was spent with the family, and 5 were spent sleeping.

    Point 4: This effort was required because someone else was unable to complete their work on time, putting a major project at least 2 months behind schedule.

    Point 5: I have another 4 or so major projects that are at risk because I can't spend enough time on them, but their go-live dates are later.

    I agree with you, I feel the majority of people feel they have to work unreasonable hours because employers know so many people are out of work. Maybe one day the economy will turn around, and we can go back to the days when we got actual raises, and employers were terrified we might find out how underpaid and overworked we were! 😛

    I am doing it mostly because I enjoy coding, and the work needs to be done. I still manage to spend more time with my family than almost anyone I know.


  • The first thing to remember is you are not the savior of the world. Concentrate on the things you are directly responsible for and make sure you complete the tasks your coworkers are depending on. Learning is a never ending joy that will make you wonder at how dumb you were in the past. Your family is part of that learning. You will regret deeply if you focus to hard on one facet and find you have missed something that you will never again have the chance to experience.

  • In many IT environments it is a taboo to allow the employees a portion of time during working hours to advance their knowledge and skill sets, unless this is directly related to what they are currently working on.

    What many organizations do not grasp is that incorporating learning in employees' daily schedules is an investment in future productivity. Instead, it is thought of as wasting company money on employee idle time. As a result, peoples' time at work is often packed with menial, mundane tasks with no time left to "think", "plan" and come up with innovative ideas spawned by learning.

    Because IT and SQL Server, in particular, is advancing so rapidly, any self-respecting professional with an ounce of interest in what they do would feel the need to keep up-to-date with latest developments and increase their knowledge. The only time left for that is really at home and that time will inevitably encroach on family life. It is a challenge I face constantly and I have found no easy answers. I take it one day at a time and do the best balancing act I can, knowing that one area or the other will suffer at any given point.

    I guess what it boils down to is this: 10 or 20 years from now, what will I regret the most: not spending enough time with my family or not becoming a SQL MCM? I think the former.

    SQL Server 2016 Columnstore Index Enhancements - System Views for Disk-Based Tables[/url]
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  • I submit that if one were to ask "Who are you?" and the reply has something to do with "working as a SQL Server DBA or SQL Server database administrator" then there is a problem. What happens when you cease to be a SQL Server DBA? That day will come.

    Marios has a good point regarding the corporate view about learning and skill-building during the work day being wasted time. But I recall that one from back in the day working with COBOL on an IBM 370.

  • DBAs and the Career-Life Balance?!

    parallel things)

    If count $$ is one side of medal, knowlidge is other, something else is third.

    In condition changeble world no doubt business-analytics plays important role and perhaps best path for DBA, need to do correct conclusion from them.

    Anton Kruglikov

  • To be honest, I took the article by very surprise.

    Currently I am working as an Application Support (IT section) in a Shipping company. From the 6.5 to 2012 I have been worked as sql developer and no matter how many times I have asked my reporting manager "to change me in to the higher role on the SQL side" and it is a still no. I have seen myself derailed from my main interest and from past last 2 years I have not worked on SQL at work, as my role and support does not allow me to do. So I am planning to quit my current job and start all over with the SQL, and this has been by resolution of this year and my future career.

    I do all the stuff on SQL what you have mentioned... downloading, installing... last week I spent all the off time is installing the XP on the VM and configure each OS for each SQL version. I have now like 8 OSs (including MySQL)

    " Is it more important to download SQL Server 2012 on your home computer and learn it than working on a hobby that you enjoy?" this is the most interesting thing for me, as now SQL has become my hobby.

    From my current work it is hard to spend the time with family and I miss most of the things happens around and even some peopel hate me for showing/spending so much of time on the work. This was me last year, and this year I have changed a bit and no matter what I always make some time to be with family people around. After reading this article, I understood one thing that even SQL jobs are not easy for managing time. But some people go and do exactly what they feel. Being at one side is hard, even after spending some time with family it becomes boring and you feel like go back to work and do some thing new and vise-versa. I have never found a proper balancing thing between these two.

    On twitter I follow few people and see them work and enjoy their life both at the same time and everytime i see their new tweet I feel how are they doing this? And one day when I was reading their interview on how they got in to SQL I came to know these are the people who do not work for money and nor for name, they work because they love their job and each task is like a fun to them and they enjoy doing what they do.

    The bottom line is "enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy" if you take work as a work and it really becomes as work (as-in stress), if you take work as fun and interesting, it does not feels like work and it feels like you are having fun. As long as you are happy on what you are doing, I guess this should not bother to anyone.

    (now its time to put some extra hours into my hobby 🙂 )

    ww; Raghu
    The first and the hardest SQL statement I have wrote- "select * from customers" - and I was happy and felt smart.

  • In our office I'm known as the SQL Evangelist... at home, these days even my wife would wake me up and read alert text messages, understanding half of it..

    She loves making jokes involving SQL "talk", using words like table joins, procedures, heck, she can even speak a simple select statement....

    Sometimes I think I'm too deeply involved in SQL Server, and turn it down a notch, but when I find myself speaking t-sql in my sleep, I'm just back on the path again....can't get away from it.

    This thing is addressing problems that dont exist. Its solution-ism at its worst. We are dumbing down machines that are inherently superior. - Gilfoyle

  • While it is not that easy, my health, well being and my family comes before everything. My close friends are also very important to me when I think about it. My job, while important, I do not live to work. I work to live.

  • Whilst I consider myself a good SQL Server/IT professional, I do find it incredibly hard to keep up with all the latest features within the product and I take my hat off to the guys who are at the top of the SQL tree. However, thats just not me. As much as I try and stay on top of all things SQL Server, I probably don't spend as much time keeping my SQL career current as I could.

    Last year, I made a point of blogging every week (on a SQL topic) to ensure I kept my technical eye in whilst doing my bit for the SQL Community. It was tough but rewarding. This year, I won't be able to make the same commitment because of changes in my personal life and i'm comfortable with this.

    I'll try and blog and do as much as I can to keep myself valuable (to me and my company!) but this won't be at the expense of other commitments.

  • As I thought about goals / resolutions this year, I had to get realistic about how much I want to accomplish as a SQL professional vs. how much I want to accomplish as a father, husband, and church member. We are homeschooling our kids, and our church is doing some amazing projects like building a free health clinic for people without insurance, etc.

    As a SQL professional, I would love this year to get certified, give 3 presentations, start a regular blog, and go to PASS Summit. But with 4 kids at home, two of whom are still quite little, and a wife whom I vowed to be there for as a true life companion and not just a walking paycheck, not to mention side project commitments, those targets aren't realistic right now. Instead certification is out of the question this year, 1 or 2 presentations is probably the max, and SQL Rally will be a great trip, targeted exactly to people like me that can't make the Summit.

    So I think setting realistic targets is important. I haven't been especially good at this in the past, and instead have just tried to "do everything that interested me". This is a great attitude when you're young, capable, and don't have other commitments. But as your responsibilities grow, you need to sit down, think about it, and make the hard choices about "what to leave in, what to leave out".

    For a little more encouragement on giving family the priority it deserves, I highly recommend http://familymanweb.com/ . Now his slant is often "family is everything, every time", and as DBA's sometimes the job does come first. That's the job, don't feel guilty about it. But if you have a family, please resist that urge to make "career" the God of your life.

    As far as other things that have worked for me, I've actually changed jobs quite a bit until 1) I figured out what I wanted and 2) I found a company that was sane. Working for a sane company goes a long way toward making work/life balance possible. If your current job is wrecking your home, start looking around. There are good companies out there, even if they are the minority.

  • The pastor who performed my marriage and counseled my wife and I before the blessed event gave me this wise advice...Put family events (i.e. commitments) in your planner along with your business appointments. When people ask you to do something when you already have a family commitment tell them "no" just like you would with a business conflict. 99% of the times another time will work out. I do occasionally get some strange looks from young, single, career-obsessed colleagues, but they usually work around my prior commitments without any complaints. As has been mentioned already, it's always instructive to ask yourself what will matter to you in 10 years. I have never answered that question on the side of work.

  • It all boils down to priorities and developing your daily disciplines. I blogged about investing in your personal growth and how it comes at a price. In organizations where you are expected to work on company time and learn on your own time, this is really a challenge (I am not in favor of such practices but you have to live with it). But this is the cost of growth. The question is not whether or not we want to grow but whether or not we are willing to pay the price.

    Work-Life balance is a concept that the 20th century work environment has developed to create a separation between work and play. The reason why it is advocated by many is because they are stuck in a work environment - or even in a job - where they'd rather be someplace else. If we look at history, technology is "partly" to blame for this phenomenon. And, then, there's the 8-hour work day and the 40-hour work week. In effect, there really is no such thing as balance since we spend most of our time at work. So, how do we deal with it? Try P.D.A.

    1) Prioritize. List down the top 5 items that mean a lot to you. If you spend more than enough time at work than with your family, it simply means it is higher up the priority list.

    2) Discipline. Once we've defined our priorities, we need to develop our daily disciplines to support our priorities. One example, in my case, is making sure that I walk my kids to the school bus stop every morning no matter what. It also means having lunch date with my wife every Friday. Because they are on my priority list. I also account for the time I spend meditating and praying in the morning, reading before going to bed and taking walks when the weather permits.

    3) Accept. We need to learn more about ourselves - our strengths and weaknesses - and accept the facts. We need to accept the fact that we cannot do everything. This means being secured in who we are. It gives us the courage to say no to our boss when we know our priorities and daily disciplines will be affected. I've accepted the fact that I know nothing about BizTalk nor don't have any clue at all what the Mercator's map is all about. I can't even read my own handwriting sometimes and will probably not be playwright ever. But I'm fine with that.

    As technology professionals, we have succumbed to the pressure of what the industry requires of us that we let it define who we are. We need to take a step back, take charge and be different. Then, we can begin to really see what work-life balance truly means.

    "Helping people and organizations grow and develop their full potential as God has planned for them"
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  • I find all these comments interesting. When I started in IT many years ago I was so engrossed in learning about this new field I neglected everything that was happening around me. It took years to make me realize that I was taken by the maze that is created in this NeverWorld. We solve real world problems if we are good at our jobs. Instead of being consumed by what should be, focus on giving the best service you can to the people that are depending on you. If you really do this you will be forced to find the best way to give them the newest and best way to do their work. You will not have a problem getting the training you desire. It will be part of your duty. This will not happen accidently. It will take place only when you have fortitude to demand that you do your job! While you are doing this you will have plenty of time to spend with your family and friends. Life is a balance but the priority MUST BE WITH YOUR FAMILY. Time will change everything but you never get to recover the time you lose with those you love.

  • I once was interviewed by Citrix and the Cambodian that interviewed me told me "We work hard, but we play hard too." Which my immediate response was "What exactly does that mean?" I guess no one ever challenged him on it before because he was just flabbergasted and did not even have an answer. Sometimes it makes you stop and wonder whether people are just dreaming up cute snappy sounding stuff just to say. 😀

    "Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ...:-D"

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