Why I don’t code in my free time, and why you should not, too.

Just read a story that bogged my mind. A “Technical/team lead” told a story, as him, an interviewer, asked “a very good” candidate about what does he/she like, and what does he/she do on his/her spare time. The answers were reading books, watching movies, and cooking.

The candidate did not get hired. The interviewer expected him/her to “work” on his/her spare time. Like a pet project – to learn something new, or to sharpen the skills.

I’m glad I was not neither in that kind of interview, nor I have that kind of boss.

Outside of the working hours, my free time is mine. I get paid for working 8 hours/day, and that’s the only time the employer has control over what I do. Other than that, it belongs to me and my family, and there is no reason I have to spend it on something that “pleases” my current boss (or my potential employer). I might spend time learning something – reading an article, writing a blogpost (like this one), but if and only if I’m up to it, if I think there is something I absolutely should know, and if I can spend my precious time on it (there is no other urgent matter). If I don’t, I can do whatever I like, playing games, reading books, taking care of my plants, or sometimes, cooking.

 

As long as I complete the work as I’m asked for (well, better with something “extra” delivered), there is no reason I have to spend more time at home thinking about work (I do that from time to time, but again, because I like it, not because I’m asked/expected to). If there is a new technology that is required for my daily job, it’s my employer’s responsibility to provide me time and resources needed for me to learn/master that. I can throw in something extra, spending a couple of hours during weekend, but’s that only for my own good (so I can be a hero and save the day!).

If you find yourself having to spend your own, precious, free time, doing your your side projects so you can keep up with your work – beware, you might be being exploited by your employer. They are expecting you to do the training yourself, so they can cut cost on their own. That’s not a healthy mindset. Training must be part of the job, and the employer must provide the necessary resources (time/allowance to buy/join books/courses/conferences) so you can grow, not just as an employee, but also as a person. You are not a tool to complete a job!

And always remember, your time, outside of working hours, belongs to you, and your family. Not your boss.

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