All You Did Was Go To Wichita? On The Importance of Leaving Work at Work

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My family and I just got back from a week-long vacation to visit my extended family in Wichita, Kansas.

The Keeper of the Plains statue in Wichita at nighttime

(Yes, fine, I'll brace for the inevitable "You took a vacation and all you did was go to Wichita?!" jokes. Bring it. I've heard them all before.)

During that time I made a seemingly-controversial decision, at least, controversial depending on what corners of the Internet you regularly inhabit. Even though I brought my work laptop with us, and have my work email installed on my phone, I opened neither of them during the entire trip. I did no work, not even reading emails, the entire time I was in Kansas.

And it was amazing!

I could tell you stories. I could tell you about how we visited the Cosmosphere, a huge space and flight museum in Hutchinson, where I witnessed a woman singe some of her hair accidentally while trying to make a rocket with a five-gallon water jug.

The front entrance to the Kansas Cosmosphere

I could tell you about the Sedgwick County Zoo, where my middle son interacted with gorillas and got one to copy his movements.

My middle son interacting with a gorilla

I could tell you about Exploration Place, where we saw a movie in a huge dome theater about a fighter pilot doing live training exercises in the Nevada desert.

My oldest son standing in front of a huge poster for the movie Fighter Pilot at Exploration Place

I could tell you about how all three of my kids caught fish at the lake in Augusta...

My daughter holding the bluegill she caught

... or the crazy candy store known as the Nifty Nut House...

All three kids in a cutout for Nifty Nut House

... or that all of our little excursions generally ended with naptime, which was quite unlike being home:

All three kids sleeping in the back of our rental car

And the mere fact that I can tell you about them means the trip was a rousing success! Even if all we did was go to Wichita.

Long time readers will know that I'm a distracted developer, and that because of this I've had to make rules like leave work at work so that I don't get constantly bogged down in the details. I've historically been pretty bad about separating work time from family time, and it now takes a deliberate effort on my part to make that distinction. So, I was proud of myself for being able to do it effectively this time.

What was interesting about this vacation was that, even though we'd been planning it for so long, the day before I didn't think I really needed it. The day after we got back was another story entirely; I was so thankful we'd taken this trip. My brain needed the rest, the break from programming, even if it didn't think it did.

You, too, will need breaks. The question is: will you take them?

I'm here to tell you this: work will always be there. Always. Americans don't take enough vacation, we're always working. Take some time off! Your brain cannot be going 100% all the time, because that's how burnout happens. Take breaks! Take vacations! Take time off, whatever is available to you.

Take the time you and your brain need! Future you will thank you for it.

Even if all you do is go to Wichita.

Happy Coding Vacationing!

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

I'm a parent, a husband, a geek, a web developer, and a speaker, in roughly that order.

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All You Did Was Go To Wichita? On The Importance of Leaving Work at Work
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