The secret thoughts of a woman in tech: What my job taught me about Self-Care

Today is the last day in my end of year vacation. A long 3 weeks holiday that involved hiking, sightseeing, amazing food, new cities & countries but also massages and poolside juices.

The plan for today is to read, write, enjoy the pool and rest. Oh, a balinese massage and flower bath are also planned.

This is so new for me. This whole business of doing nothing, resting and slowing down.

Younger me would be using every single second to do more. Such a fool! But my present self thinks differently.

My present self values our body, wellbeing, wellness and time more. My present self values self-care.

This may surprise you but this is partly due to the nature of my job (and getting bloody old).

My job? I’m a developer advocate.

I love the variety and flexibility I get from my job. As a developer advocate, I could be sitting home writing code (Yay for remote work!), preparing for a talk, writing a tutorial or hopping around the globe speaking in conferences.

My job is awesome. My job is stressful. My job is tiring. My job is really awesome &I love it.

To have an online presence sharing knowledge and trying to help other developers as well as doing public speaking is to expose myself to the good, bad and ugly of the Internet. Luckily for me, it’s been mostly good.

To be out there in front of an audience is a sign of bravery, self-confidence & all until I hid in my hotel room to cry & feel vulnerable & be overwhelmed. ( I may be over-dramatising things. I hid in my room, eat junk food and watch Netflix. That’s what really happens).

It’s stressful. I’ve done about 20 conferences this year, you’d think one get used to it, I get nervous every.single.time.

To add to the mental fatigue, there’s the physical fatigue.

To be able to attend conferences over all the world, I need to fly (until teleportation is a thing). That’s a lot of time spent in airports, train stations, airplanes & trains. I also need to deal with jetlag sometimes and be on top of my traveller game. That’s tiring. Not just mentally tiring but muscle-ache tiring.

All of this made me aware of self-care and the importance of having time to myself to recover and actually be able to do the job I love so much. Because:

  • Broken me is an unproductive me

When it comes to productivity, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You can spend hours trying to achieve a task but if you are tired, if you can’t think properly, there’s no point.

The more your body and soul get the rest they need, the more productive and efficient you are.

I learnt this lesson the hard way but eventually I learnt.

  • No one wants to deal with unhappy me

Unhappy me is an ugly angry woman. You do not want to deal with unhappy me. I, myself, can’t stand unhappy me.

With the hectic life-style I have (by choice. By all means, I’m not complaining here), it’s easy for me to forget to take care of my health mentally and physically wish could lead to serious problems such as depression and stress.

I learnt that in order to excel in my job, I should come first.

Self care is not just face masks and massages (Although I highly recomment those), it’s a series of techniques and lifestyle changes that will help you looking after yourself.

Here’s how I look after myself:

  • Exercising

I don’t just try to find free time to exercise. If you do hope for free time to exercise, you’ll never have that time.

Instead, I include my exercise into my weekly schedule. I make sure that I have slots on my calendar for the gym.

  • Mental declutter

Nothing is harmful or stressful more than the mental burden. Thinking about tasks, meetings, deadlines, priorities, etc… could be overwhelming.

To keep on top of things, I follow the mental declutter technique. I try to be mentally organised and make space in my brain by religiously using To-do lists, prioritise tasks and tackle them accordingly.

I’m also half way through mastering the art of saying no and yes wisely. It’s important to know when to use these 2 magical words (No Jennifer, I won’t do your job for you. Yes James, I’d like to own that piece of work and take full credit for it).

This is also known as wisely budgeting my fucks.

  • Making time for the people I care about

With all the travel I have to do, maintaining a social life is challenging but I try my best to have one.

I’d usually be sitting in an airport waiting for my home bound when I text friends and family to arrange meeting them.

It’s important to stay connected to the people we love and by all means, disconnect yourself from negative influence.

  • Making time for the activities I care about

There will be always work that needs to be done. There will be always a deadline. And they all can wait.

As someone who works remotely from home, the line between work and my personal life can easily get blurry. So it’s really important to have time for hobbies so my work is not my life. I’m not my job.

Switching off is important.

  • Slowing down

I’m slowly learning how to slow down (good pun, right?) , live in the present moment and disconnect from the hectic digital world from time to time.

I find nature and mindful walks very therapeutic.

  • Eating healthy and drinking water

I try.

 

By all means, you don’t have to do what I do. But know that you should take care of yourself. Be selfish about your wellbeing & wellness.

 

 

 

 

I’m going on a US tour : Tech, Travel & Total Shenanigans

I’m currently typing these words while on board of a Delta flight heading from LHR to JFK for what should be: ONE HELL OF A TRIP.

The main reason behind this tour is one small human being, my newborn niece. When my sister told me a while back that she’s expecting a baby and that my parents would be travelling as well to see their first grand-child, we all agreed it would be nice to have a family reunion.

Being a remote worker made things much easier for me, the plan was for me to work from the States where I have already some of my colleagues.

But then one thing led to another and instead of going for few weeks to work from my sister’s couch, I will be touring the country for more than just a couple of weeks speaking and attending some conferences.

So if you happen to be attending one of these conferences, please come say Hi!

Itinerary:

 

IMG_5296.jpg
Is she writing code on a mirror? With a lipstick? Oui. Oui.

 

I’ll try to update the blog regularly during the trip. Stay tuned & Follow #BibiOnTour! Make me famous 😀

Gone Mobile Podcast

Gone Mobile is a podcast discussing the latest in mobile development, with a healthy bias towards Xamarin technologies. The podcast covers in-depth topics with guests ranging from Android, iOS, Windows Phone & Store development to mobile marketing and design, as well as other mobile or not so mobile related technologies.

Earlier this month, I had the immense pleasure of chatting to Greg and Jon, the two awesome guys behind Gone Mobile.

Here is the episode where we were talking about Android and GPU performance.

ArabWIC Webinar: A Discussion On Industry & Entrepreneur Careers

One of our activities in the Arab Women In Computing(ArabWIC) organisation is to organise Webinars regularly to cover various topics from open source to career advice.

The last webinar was a discussion for students and academic professionals facing important career transitions.

Read More