Take Time Off From Work So You Can Work!

I recently took three weeks off work to move from Dallas, TX to Seattle, WA. Much of that was spent driving and visiting friends and family, but I also managed to squeeze in about 15 hours of programming.

That’s right! I did what I do every day for a living during my precious time off.

Over the break I started to create a website where I can track my 52 Things for the year. Right now I have an early alpha version that works well enough to actually use, as long as you don’t need to edit anything! Be gentle if you play around on the site — it’s easy to break.

The site is built with React.js and Firebase. I’ve never touched React, and haven’t played with Firebase since before it was bought by Google.

Currently at work I’ve been doing a ton of Swift 3 iOS development, so I figured I should do a web development project on the side to keep those skills sharp. React is a great UI framework developed by Facebook, and despite the frenetic pace in which JavaScript frameworks are created and abandoned, it seemed like it’s sticking around, and thus is a good one to learn.

The process has been a lot of fun. I like to iterate on my code, so I started with a pile of unreadable, shameful code just to get it working, and now I’m beginning the process of massaging it into something to be proud of.

Alpha version of Things site
My currently hideous work in progress

My favorite part about this whole process is that I’ve gotten really excited about programming again. Learning a new technology always scratches my intellectual itch, and it’s been months since I’ve tried a new framework.

The only reason I started this side project is because I had some time off work. This is the first time I’ve taken an extended vacation in over a year, and it was a well needed break (in more ways than one). I expect to return to work on Monday with a spring in my step and with boundless amounts of energy, and much of that is because I used my skills from work to create something of my own.

I’m really glad I took three weeks off, and that I invested some of that time into expanding my skillset as a developer. If you haven’t taken a break from work in order to learn a new skill, give it a shot! It will be well worth the time you take off work, and will help you become a more valuable employee.

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