Julie Ng

Julie Ng

Switching Off

Passion is a double-edged sword. I am fortunate to love my profession. But those closest to me will sometimes ask, “can we talk about something besides work?” In other words, I am a workaholic, who needs an off swtich.

You shouldn't be critical to your team at any given time. That makes you a hard dependency.

This week I stood on the beach in Cape Cod with a childhood friend, watching the waves roll in from the Atlantic. It felt wonderful. I haven’t checked work email or looked at any code for over a week. It hasn’t been easy, especially for my friend who manages a team in a deadline oriented industry. There’s guilt that your inbox is piling up or colleagues may struggle without you. But the tidal waves caused by gravity from the moon1 remind me how small and insignificant we - and our work - actually are.

It took me a long time to realize this: you shouldn’t be critical to your team at any given time. That would make you a hard dependency, which can be a liability in software. So why would we want that in our teams?

If there should be a critical situation, either a) your colleagues call you - not the other way around or b) the team deals with it themselves and learns from any mistakes that they may make. A self-sufficient team should be the long term goal, right?

I know work is piling up. But I also know that I have a packed workload when I get back anyway. So what’s a few more emails? Just like the waves, work continues to roll on without me. And that’s OK by me.


  1. U.S. National Ocean Service: Why does the ocean have waves?