Hacking Your Work Life __ Balance to Take Over the World

Jennifer and Sandi on Birds

Jennifer Wadella

Jennifer Wadella


  • 9-5 Remote Software Engineer
  • Nonprofit Founder/Director
  • International Speaker
  • Aspiring crazy plant lady

This talk may contain strong language, harsh truths, and serious passion.

Paul Rudd
falling down stairs
Wonder Woman fighting
Work Life Blank


Your trade - but mostly how you collect a paycheck.

  • Job Execution
  • Skill Upgrading
  • Managing Others
  • Meetings, responding to emails, training, paperwork


Everything you do when you're not at work.

  • Household Management
  • Financial Planning
  • Family
  • Health
  • Sleep
  • Social Life
  • Hobbies
  • Relaxation


Your passion.

  • Volunteering?
  • Blogging?
  • Public Speaking?
  • Side Hustle?
  • Managing a non-profit?
  • Competitve sport?
  • Open Source project/contribution?

My "blanks"

  • Public Speaking
    • 2018 (so far) - 9 talks at 7 different confs
  • Running Kansas City Women in Technology
    • 2014 - 2 programs, 32 events, 8 leadership team members
    • 2018 - 6 programs, 60+ events, 39 leadership team members

My work-life-blank plotted


  • Prioritizing
  • Automating
  • Balancing
  • Finding Tools & Processes
  • Recompensating

Strategy #1: Prioritize

Dwight D. Eisenhower

"I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent."

Urgent Not Urgent
Not Important

Quadrant of Necessity

  • Pressing Problems
  • Deadline-driven items
  • Crisis/emergencies

Quadrant of Quality &
Personal Leadership

  • Planning/preperation
  • Deadline-driven items
  • Self-improvement
Not Important

Quadrant of Deception

  • Interuptions
  • Meetings
  • Emails
  • Requests

Quadrant of Waste

  • TV
  • Social Media
  • Reddit

Eat the Frog First

Kermit the Frog gulping

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” - Mark Twain

What About Creative Workflow

Have a way to document creative thoughts as a placeholder

Unforseen Chaos

Murphy's Law
twerking fail

What can go wrong WILL go wrong

home catastrophe

Strategy #2: Automate

Like devops IRL


Eliminate the need to remember dates for bills.


Automarket Yo-self

  • Spend the time to really craft a good bio and get a headshot you love.
  • Use social media tools to manage your content
  • Set up Google Alerts for your name/company


life effort before/after automating

life effort before/after automating

Spend your time and energy on implemeting ideas & solving the big problems.

tl;dr - Find redundancies in your life and find ways to minimize them



Everyone else

Strategy #3: Find Balance

Stress + Rest = Growth

Conscious Competence

You know what to do and how to do it,
but it takes conscious effort

Time for: Disciplined Effort

Unconscious Competence

You know what to do and how to do it,
and it happens naturally without much focus.

Time for: Skilled Application

Conscious Incompetence

You know what you need to do,
but lack the skills to do it.

Time for: Learning

Unconscious Incompetence

You don't know what you don't know.

Time for: Discovery

The Equation That Will Make You Better at Everything

Get Enough Sleep

  • Recovery - this is when your immune system releases compounds called cytokine
  • Aids in Hunger Management
  • Memory - REM & slow wave sleep of sleep contribute to creative thinking, procedural memory, long-term memories, and memory processing

How to Get Enough Sleep

  • Use a fitness tracker to monitor your sleep
  • Avoid stimulants and lights before bed.
  • For help falling asleep try audiobooks, apps, music, or white noise creators.
morning dogs

Know Your Productive Hours

The number of hours in a day isn't the issue ... it's how many of those hours you feel productive during.

A one hour workout is
4% of your day

no excuses.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Prioritize Your Health

How you treat your body matters!

"There's good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program,"
- James Blumenthal, PhD, clinical psychologist at Duke University.

Learn to Say "No"

Remove Toxic Relationships

Do not set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. - a super wise person

Turn Off Push Notifications.

Get the f*ck off Social Media.

Hair Flip fail

Give Yourself A Break

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

- Brianna Wiest

Identify & Minimize Stressors

Strategy #4: Use Tools & Processes

Hacking your work life __ balance IS a process.

Trello for everything.

Just kidding. Kind of.
But find a tool that works for you.

Calendar Hacks

  • If it exists, block it on your calendar.
  • Physically block out work hours for yourself.
  • Share calendars between family members
  • Use reminders & todos
  • Block off weeks around travel.
  • Calendly

Get an Accountability Buddy

Friend with shared __ interests? Great!

If not, create your own accountability buddy in Slack - IFTTT recipe

Email Hacks

  • Snooze feature - Inbox by Google 🙌
  • Mixmax - email tracking, automation, templating
  • Boomerang - Snoozing, follow-up reminders for Gmail
  • Unroll Me - Declutter your inbox

Jennifer's Email Hacks

  • Want a response? Always conclude with a CTA and deadline
  • Format your dates to be easy to remember - Day of week, date, time + timezone
  • Make your emails easy to read - use lists, call out important info, line breaks are your friend.

Meal Prep

  • Save time
  • Remove decision making need/willpower
  • Save money
  • Easy portion control
  • Better nutrition
  • Easy calorie tracking


Jennifer's Mealprep hacks

Jennifer's Mealprep hacks

Errand Hacks

  • Avoid busy times
  • Run errands when parents will be picking up their kids from school - my mom
  • Use order ahead/pickup services when available

Train your brain to go into

focus mode

Strategy #5: Recompensate


to pay or give compensation for; make restitution or requital for (damage, injury, or the like).

Get yoself a hobby

Have Guilty Pleasures

and don't feel guilty.

Plan Things You Look Forward To

Schedule your social life

Introverts - meaningful 1 on 1 on conversations

Extroverts - parties, rec sports, group outings

Take Your Birthday OFF

🎂 🎂 🎂

Make plans to take over the world

Recap: Strategies

  • Prioritizing
  • Automating
  • Balancing
  • Finding Tools
  • Recompensating
Life Work Blank


Slides available at: tehfedaykin.github.io/HackingYourWorkLife__Balance

Pre-talk playlist

@likeOMGitsFEDAY #hackyourbalance #devup