So as we’re all busy network professionals, I’m sure you’ve ran into the problem of a work-life balance. I personally know lots of engineers that have burned out at one time, or their family life has suffered, and their kids barely know them. Now granted these are extreme case scenarios, but it could happen to anyone if they let their job get in the way.
Obviously, we all want to be at the top of our game and be the best engineers we can be, but how can we achieve those goals and maintain a healthy life balance at the same time? Well, how about we apply some network principles to the matter. Without further ado, let’s QOS your life.
Alright, so let’s define some terminology so we all know what we’re talking about.
Bandwidth- Total time available in the day, since we’re all earthlings here, that’s 24 hours (Sorry if I offended any Martians or Veusians.)
Throughput- How much time you actually have in the day to get things done.
Classifications- What category are we working with? Family, work, fun, and professional development. Granted your classifications may be different, but I’m just sticking with these general ones that should be common.
Shaping- Determine how much time you want to devote to each classification and don’t exceed them, otherwise you’ll end up having to….
Queue- Sometimes you just have to put stuff off till later because you have used up all the time you had.
Alright, now that I have those out of the way, let’s do some practical applications. We’re gonna go with a weekday example; though remember you can use your QoS Policy Manager (mine’s usually my wife) to change your policies up for the weekend.
So we all know, QOS isn’t a miracle worker, and you can only do so much with what you actually have, and you have to make plans accordingly. That being said, you automatically lose 8 hours from your total bandwidth as you have to sleep. Now you can sort of “over-provision” and sleep less than 8 hours, provided your hardware can take it and you can afford the overall cost, thereby gaining some hours for your total throughput.
Now most likely you have a job, so that automatically eats up 9 hours of your available throughput (unless you don’t have an hour lunch, adjust accordingly). What could you do on your lunch hour? How about some healthy technical discussions or maybe some team building time with your co-workers? Hopefully you don’t have to spend more than 8 hours working as additional overhead (I know it happens sometimes, we’ve all got to roll with the punches).
Ok, you’ve got 7 more hours, but we forgot to include your drive to work. The average commute is 30 minutes each way, or an hour total. Why not setup some traffic shaping to utilize that time in an effective manner. Look into listening to some podcasts for professional development. I’ve heard there’s some website around here that does some good ones. So now we’ve got 6 hours left.
Now family time is important. I’ve always been a fan of dinner time conversations. Our family likes to sit around the table talking about what happened and making sure we’re connected with one another. Let’s call that a half hour for family dinner. If you’re lucky enough you can spend breakfast with them too, but let’s face it, mornings are downright crazy in our house. You’re lucky if you actually remember to eat breakfast, much less get to sit down at the table. This would require some situationally aware QOS routing.
Alright, so we’ve accounted for everything but 5 and a half hours now. I’m not going to break up the entire day on here as that would be an insanely long post. It’s up to you how you want to break the rest down. Here’s a tip though. If you have a hobby or have been looking to get into something, maybe it can double in the family slot or the professional development slot. I really enjoy doing projects with single board computers (things like the Odroid or Raspberry Pi).
So my hobby activities can align with my professional development sometimes. If you’ve got kids that are interested in computers as well, like mine are, you can bring them onboard and get some bonding time.
Also, queueing is important. Sometimes things just have to wait till later. It’s a fact of life. But make sure you don’t over fill your queue. When that happens, things are just going to get dropped and depending on your policies, you can cause additional problems.
Basically what it boils down to, just like when you’re doing your analysis of your applications and designing the QOS solution, you need to pay attention to what your end goal is. Don’t get burned out. Make some time for you to relax, whether it’s taking in a movie, or spending some quiet time with your spouse/significant other. A burnt out engineer is one that makes mistakes. Remember, the network depends on you.