Work-Life Balance When Learning PLC Programming at Home

Are You Learning PLC Programming at Home?

Well then, I would bet you are struggling trying to balance with your work, family and learn PLC- programming-at-home life.

Don’t worry, this post will share some of the best practices you can use starting today when trying to find that balance

Think about it, almost every single person who is studying at home starts with the exact same problem. Unfortunately finding time to work and study at home won’t ever go away if you don’t have a system, no matter how much experience you have. We know that as a newbie you’re going to struggle in every conceivable way there is, with trying to learn the code, with the software, with finding the best learning resources and so much more.

But take heart, with a few best practices you can find true balance at work and happiness at home while you practice your new career changing skills.

To begin, we will use some interesting examples to showcase the best practices, so this post should be fun.

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You Need Some Space

Keep in mind, that in the real world as an engineer or programming tech, you will program in all spaces from quiet offices to loud factory floors, from hotel rooms on the weekends and even on long cross-country flights.

Francis Bacon, according to Wikipedia was a British figurative painter known for his emotionally charged raw imagery with a fixation on personal motifs. Best known for his depictions of popescrucifixions and portraits of close friends.

What’s striking is the pictures of his studio, relocated piece by piece to the Dublin City Gallery shows a chaotic and some would say energetic work space. While many artists desire a loose formed structure to their work space, because it encourages their creativity. This space appears to be anti-structure and anti-orderliness, it possibly freed his inhibitions to pursue art without influence.

But to a programmer, order and structure is paramount to our profession. Everything is mathematical, it has a start a middle and an end. It goes from top to bottom, left to right. As such, a study space or studio or workshop aids in our ability to focus.

And at the beginning you should build the best environment possible to help you forge a solid foundation. Then in time when you have solid skills, you will eventually be comfortable enough with the code and find writing it easy even in difficult environments.

So the first best practice isn’t to find time it’s to find space. If you had the time where would you go to practice? The library, a spare bedroom, the kitchen table, a friend’s house, the lunch room at work or the living room couch, all of these can work and have served others. The thing to keep in mind is that you need to have a quiet space away from distractions and it should be a comfortable space as well. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FIRST STEP! Think of space as a destination, you must have somewhere to go first, before you even start to take a long walk.

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You Need Some Flex-Time

One of the biggest struggles is to find time, time is something you will never get back once fritted away. However you wouldn’t believe how much time you really do have if you took a deep look. For instance there is this guy who used a phone to type a 100,000 word book while traveling to and from work on the F-train over a two year period. Imagine the time you could have and what you could do with it if you’re determined to be productive.

Brooklyn author Peter Brett’s first novel, is a dark, demonic fantasy but what intrigues me about this story is that he wrote it on the train. His trip took 45 minutes most days but due to various issues was known to take an hour and a half at times as well.

As Peter did, you really need to find time to set a schedule and keep to it. But it needs to be flexible, able to be fluid throughout life’s ebbs and flows. Because you will struggle with time, to the point of thinking about quitting trying to learn PLC programming all together if you aren’t able to make progress.

To be fair, life will get in the way at times; kid’s important activities, changing work schedules and general fatigue will all cloud your mind and muddy your commitment. That’s why it needs to become a habit to find time. Let’s make something very clear, this best practice will challenge you like no other, but even if you struggle with finding time keep in mind that it may take you longer to reach your goals but DON’T QUIT.

Keep this in mind, actually burn it in; ‘the secret to almost all success is ‘commitment’, to finding the time to work on your goal, every day…every…single…day over a long period of time.’ That is the biggest secret to achieveing almost any goal in life. In the end believe it or not you can be incredibly productive with an hours practice a day.

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Focus on Your Resources 

The next struggle is to find the right resources for yourself. Now, there are many, many resources and books and you cant read or take them all. But, you need to choose one, and only one and focus on just that one. As a newbie you will be tempted to try to learn everything at the beginning, BUT DON’T.

The mythical story about the Polynesians who discovered Hawaii is that they would watch the birds fly out to sea and they would follow them, as they believed the birds must know of the location of land that they didn’t. And every year they would have to turn back because the birds flew faster and farther than they could in their dugout canoes.

Eventually they reached land, 2500 miles away, and it took 400 years to do it. Now, I know you don’t want to take 400 years (even if you could live that long) to accomplish your career change. But, you must be willing to focus on one course of action (learning program) and see it through to the end.

Pick one course, start it and FINISH it, do every exercise exactly as taught before you move on to another. Don’t try to cram the learning experience down your throat, instead make-and-take time. Take the time to slow down and take notes, read and then reread, let it marinate and most importantly make sure you know the knowledge before you move on to the next shinny thing.

We shared the Hawaii story with you because it showcased the power of focus, because we felt that resources in today’s world are easier to find but focus is a whole other story. But its focus on the right resource over a long period of time that counts.

Keep in mind a lack of determined focus is the number one cause of struggle and often crushing failure when interviewing for your first programming job, so GO SLOW!

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Success is in The Relationships

A successful relationship is nothing more than a compromise. Think about it, two different people coming together to share a life over a lifetime.

They will agree, disagree, and grow in dozens of different ways throughout their lifetime. It’s impossible for anyone to endure a marriage for very long without a lot of compromise.

Take Winston Churchill, the leader of Brittan during the Second World War. Churchill invited his date Clementine to his birthplace, Blenheim Palace, and as they took shelter from a rainstorm in an ornamental Greek temple during an afternoon walk, he proposed. 

According to WinstonChurchill.org: “Churchill could be very charming but he also was known to be quite difficult at times. He had such a presence and reputation that there were very few men who would stand up to him. There was however one very strong willed woman who always would – his wife.

Winston was waging a war that would determine the outcome of the entire globe for generations’ to come. Yet, he realized the necessary compromise needed in his relationship, even if it was a challenging one.

You have to realize that while your studying is the path to changing you and your families future you must find agreement in your commitment from your spouse, commitment to making time and spending a little money (you don’t need to spend much) for your training and maybe some software.

The shortcut to making this work in real life with rambunctious kids and a stressed spouse looking for some get-way time themselves is to work incredibly hard to NOT leave your spouse hanging. Instead help out until they say they are ok with you sneaking away and working on your code.

When this seems too difficult, it often means scheduling time at the start of your day, like on your train ride to and from work or before anyone else is awake, or stopping off at the library before reaching home or even practicing during lunch breaks at your day job.

Most importantly is to make sure you give time and affection to your spouse as often as you can to help balance the load they are carrying while you’re away from the family programming.

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Today’s Take Away

We’re hoping you weren’t expecting some magical list of things to do that would instantly transform you into a senior PLC programming engineer. In life the older we get the more we realize success isn’t magical, its commitment, over a long period of time that requires good time management and compromise to those closest to you.

Keep telling yourself that there is no shortcut to being good at anything, only hard work. But hard work pays off, consider that your only working on programming because you believe that something better will come of it, much like the faith the Polynesians had over 400 years and 2500 miles must have been thinking.

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