The Value of Getting your Hands Dirty

As software developers we spend an inordinate amount of time both indoors and staring at glowing panes of glass while sitting firmly on our butts.

Today I’m here to tell you to get off your ass!

I’ve never been afraid of getting outside or digging in to some physical work. Though often in talking to people when I mention a recent home-improvement project I’ve been working on they respond “oh, I couldn’t do that!”.

You want to know the secret?

When I started doing many of my own home projects, I didn’t know what I was doing either!

With all this technology at our fingertips, it’s incredibly easy to lose the pride and sense of accomplishment that comes from physical work. In my experience the benefits are numerous, but here’s a few nuggets that come to mind:

  • working with your hands without a keyboard
  • though you’re still solving problems but you’ll feel like you’re using a different part of your brain
  • you can create something in the real world, exactly the opposite of the virtual products create
  • it’s great for clearing your head from challenges you’re having in your technical work
  • sore muscles at the end of the day FEEL GOOD!
  • you just might get to spend more time outside!
  • there’s a whole new set of skills out there that you couldn’t even imagine
  • you’ll save money on small projects or fixes vs. hiring somebody

After you’ve done a few smaller things, say rewiring an outlet or fixing a leaky pipe, you’ll quickly grow more confident in your abilities. You’ll quite likely find yourself taking on larger projects, it can be an addictive and empowering feeling. For example, in two weeks I’m going to be ripping the siding off one side of my house, building and pouring a concrete slab and then extending my roof to build a new shed. A far cry from the drywall repairs and light switch replacements that were about the limits of my abilities few years ago.

So get out there, get your hands dirty, and do some work that doesn’t involve a computer. I promise you will feel a different level of accomplishment than what you’re used to in your day-to-day work.

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