I really like where this article goes but, I would really be a bit harder on myself about this ans be a bit more selfish.
Just accept the fact that you’re exchanging your time against money, if you work more but aren’t paid more, you’re giving away your time, which is a resource supposedly VERY valuable to you, and moderately (or not at all) valuable to to others.
Employers usually make sure that you don’t exploit them, be sure that you’re not exploited too!
I actually disagree with this article on some level. I think we should respect outcomes, but some activities really are about the journey more than the destination. I think there are good reasons to value working. The time you spend improves your skills. Making the wrong choices gives you perspective. If anything the issue is people refusing to value “not working”. If you value outcomes you can still find yourself working long hours, just with many short projects. If you value “not working” you will find time to think or be more contemplative.
The unfortunate reality of our industry is that executives love understaffing– or, more accurately, overpromising relative to real capabilities– and engineers are expected to be willing cannon fodder.
That said, it’s rare that a corporate job requires continued long hours. One has to be strategic about it. When shit’s going bad, stay late. There are a few times a year in most places when that happens; executives want the comfort of knowing their underlings will haul ass to compensate for their mistakes and failures. When no one’s paying attention, take some time for yourself. Work from home if you can, so you can recuperate during 9-to-5 hours from the fire drills and late-night nonsense that does pop up.
I know plenty of people who work <500 hours per year and have no trouble, and I know others who work 3000+ who are constantly getting fired, not because they’re bad at their jobs (they’re usually not) but because they aren’t strategic about when to participate in shared suffering versus when to optimize for social polish and harmonious relationships.
I love this because that comfort of long hours can eventually lead to never ending dread and then burnout. Beyond valuing outcome, those working long hours miss the most important truth. That productivity is the greatest source of waste. Being thoughtful about your work is hard, lets go coding.
Certainly a perspective I hadn’t thought of. Working less hours sort of forces you to be more thoughtful about your work, interesting perspective.
I’ve been trying this recently but it’s extremely difficult! I’ve always been a really slow-starter when it comes to programming - I take forever to adjust to codebases and digest a problem. I need to spend a while reading through and thinking about things to map out a solution in my head before I start coding. I also take a while to adjust to new workflows and build up a groove for getting fixes out quickly. And sometimes it’s those later hours that give me the room to avoid distractions.
Maybe that’s just a sign that we need better tooling and I need to improve my ability to focus though. I mean, I am on Lobsters right now.
I’m like you and used to also grind pretty long hours in the beginning (when encountering a new codebase, now paradigms, etc), but I tried to do something similar to what this article suggests (for me it was motivated more by carving out personal time for side projects) and developed some skills to help me get into a new problem.
Delivering on time with a balanced work-life balance is its own skill and it’s a shame the industry doesn’t try and develop it more.
This article provides a good path forward when the organization also disincentivizes overwork, but I’ve been at companies that don’t. One of them specifically pushed back against adding more testing, tooling, or process for reliability. This company didn’t want to “waste time on non-features” and basically expected engineers to stay late and deliver code rather than working on tooling.