Sometimes you just need to take it easy.

We live in a fast paced world. Constantly checking email, text message, facebook update, working, driving and what not. We are always busy. There is no time to do anything we love, we are constantly on the run. Sometimes we work 16 to 18 hours a day, but does that mean that we are productive?

Santa Monica Beach

After a long day, nothing beats an evening at Santa Monica Beach

When I got my first freelance job, I was very excited and not very experienced. I worked at least 16 hours a day with very little food intake and almost no breaks. At the time it made sense. Working and learning went hand in hand. When I was given a task, I had to do some research first before starting. The simplest task would take me a very long time to accomplish. So it made sense that i had to work all these hours.

When starting a new web project, I always started from scratch:

  1. Creating a folder structure
  2. Writing the url routing logic.
  3. Writing the database connectors.
  4. and so on.

If I had just abstracted that I would have saved so much time. But sometimes, the hard way is the only way to learn.

Nowadays I don't work as hard as before. I can almost relate to this scene from office space:

Bob Slydell: You see, what we're trying to do is get a feeling for how people spend their time at work so if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Bob Slydell: Great.
Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh - after that I sorta space out for an hour.
Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too, I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

Not that I am a slacker, but two hours of my time is equal or greater than 16 hours of my first gig. There is much more leverage, I don't reinvent the wheel with each project. When we have a bug on production at work, I don't stress out; either I find a solution for it or I find someone who can find a solution or we roll back to the previous version.

Working long hours and stressing yourself is something you do in the beginning. You can still be excited when you have more experience. But don't forget to enjoy your day.


Max :

This is an important article, not just for junior programmers, but probably for anyone starting their first technical job. It is so so very easy to overwork when you find a job that you enjoy. Especially in the midst of those first few heady months of excitement. I still sometimes do it after 11 years working across a variety of technical fields - an exciting or challenging project rears it's head and before I know it it's been 48 hours since I last slept.

But you are exactly, precisely correct; sometimes you just need to take it easy. Perhaps more than sometimes. After all, "It's amazing how productive doing nothing can be"


ibrahim :

Thanks Max :)

I appreciate your comment.

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