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Balancing life while still performing at top level

This is a semi-continuation of the thread I started below.  Many people mentioned devotion to family and having the joy of raising kids as a primary focus of their lives, while placing jobs second.  While I can understand this, I wonder if such a goal is truly achievable for most of us.

As a few posters mentioned, as much as we like to de-emphasize the importance of our jobs these days, the fact is that NOTHING else in our lives is possible without a decent one.    No decent paying job = no fun times with kids/wife building memories (not good memories anyway). As outsourcing and offshoring continues,more time will have to be spent differentiating ourselves to remain competitive.  I believe anyone who believes otherwise is living in another era.

Maybe I'm being overly negative (wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of that :) ), but given the skyrocketing divorce rates and the increasing need to be nomadic in order to give oneself  options in case of job loss, the hope of an ideal nuclear family seems increasingly unachievable.  However, I *would* like to find a special "someone"  to share my life with (but I don't want to convince myself that someone is "special" just so that I can say I've found my special somone like many of my friends have done either...but that's another story. :) ).  It's hard to do with everyone moving around all the time. Oh angst!

BTW, T.J.  sort of lives the kind of life I live now (read his post in previous thread).  It was described as "hedonistic" by one poster, but I don't see anything hedonistic about going out with friends and having fun if you have a spare moment from work.  And I think having this negative attitude may force some people into lives that they have to convince themselves are fullfulling (i.e. "this guy is enjoying life more than me, but that's OK...in the end I'll have lived the better life...I hope").

Anyway, enough of my semi-random rambling.  And please. no ad hominem attacks in this thread. Let's be civil. :)

Crimson
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

It's certainly possible to put your family first, but in terms of time spent, the family is usually second to work.

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

> It's hard to do with everyone moving around all the time.

Incidentally, that's the reason for "nuclear" family: the couple and ther dependent children stay together, even if where their location relative to everyone else (grandparents, siblings, friends, colleagues, church, neighbours) is transient.

One solution is to live in a megapolis: I used to travel (I've worked in 3 different countries, 6 cities) ... now I live in Toronto, and reckon this place is big enough that if I lose my present job I should be able to find another in the same city.

Also I'm not claiming to be top-level ... I'm not Stroustrup or Torvalds for example ... given that I care for dependent family, my vocational ambition is merely to be high enough.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I think that there is a widespread belief that "top performer" is in some way correlated with "works far more than 40 hours a week". I don't believe there is any such correlation -- and in fact there may be a negative correlation there. (Just re-read Peopleware recently...)

But aside from the issue of the raw amount of time, there is also the issue of mindshare. Some people are just totally mentally and emotionally consumed with their worklife -- there are no divisions between the part and the whole. If you work 60 hours a week, but when you are home you are *totally* engaged with whatever it is you do at home you might still have a semblance of balance. But if you don't look at your life as a whole comprised of many parts I think you end up regretting something somewhere along the way.

Jeff Kotula
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

i think its quite undeniable that given two identical workers, if one works more hours than the other, he'll probably be more productive (up to a cap of say... 80 hours?)

however, beyond 60 hours, i think the diminishing returns on the extra hours falls off quite steeply.  fatigue, emotional well being, diet, etc., become more of a factor in determining performance.

so... yeah, i think you can operate close to your top level while balancing your other priorities...

Kenny
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

40 hours per week as a sustainable model.  No more, no less.

"Turbo mode" (50-60 hours per week) only works for up to 6 weeks at a time, no more than 2x per year.

Get in, get focussed, get your job _done_.  Define what constitutes done (schedule, features, bugs, testing, deployment, ...), and then help set the pace.

Get in, get productive, get out.

Your job is not your life, your life is not your job.

hoser
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Well said hoser

Witin the past year I have downgraded to a 40 - 45 hour work week.  My quality of life has increased 10 fold since then

AnonX
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Thanks.

One more thing:

Minimize bad habits:
TV, JoS, slashdot, blog reading, day trading, video games.

Try new stuff:
Get a book on massage and try that our on your wife.  Helluva lot more interesting than a blog.

hoser
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

That was 2 things...

hoser
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Just spent four weeks of 7 days a week with many 12 hour days.

Got the project in just in the nick of time.

Now I'm having trouble summoning energy. I expect it will be a week or so before I am back to normal.

So these super Charge of the Light Brigade efforts are not without their cost.

For the people who can program 60 hours a week at peak efficiency for months on end, well they probably have their own private jets if they work in industry.

I knew one guy like that. Back in early 80s he did a Pascal Compiler in a weekend!

frustrated
Wednesday, August 11, 2004


I agree with hoser.

In response to Kenny: the 60-hour point of diminishing returns seems to be kind of arbitrary. What evidence is there that 40-hours is not the actual cut off? (I should qualify this by stating that that is for a *normal* work week, not during the final sprint of a project.)

Someone might be able to write a Pascal compiler over the weekend, but is it any good? Maybe it is, but the point of this thread is how do you have a _balanced_ approach to work as a part of life, not work being life.

Jeff Kotula
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I don't know. I made 75 hours/week for 2.5 years. Now I do around 35/week.
Honestly with 75 hours I made 10x more than now with 35. I was able to concentrate. Now as I made a promise myself to go home to my girlfriend, well, i can't even concentrate on that 35 hrs.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I think family has to be the priority.
But I love money and my company.
So, first I'll become rich, then I'll get a family (wife, kids)
May be I'll not make it. But I'm a gambling man =)

Nix
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ran into a "new" problem as well. Doing a lot of commissioning on someone else's bad design (they baled out), and burning up big time hours - but at home, "she who must be obeyed" has been talking to other "ladies" whose husbands do 9-5, and who pretty much do all the household chores as well. These ladies of leasure then question my wife about how we run things at home, she gets to thinking, and I'm then in a situation of diminshing home hours, and I must then complete home chores too.
As has been said, no real money, no real good life.
Between a rock and a very hard place.

AT Jansen Van Rensburg
Thursday, August 12, 2004

"she who must be obeyed"? Shit. Rough her up a little. That'll readjust that attitude double quick.

Ghost of Rick James
Friday, August 13, 2004

Dump the bitch in the river.  Don't put up with that kind of shit.

Well.. you should probably just divorce her actually.. but if you have kids, good luck.  Why did you marry such a selfish shrew in the first place?  Oh.. right.

muppet
Friday, August 13, 2004

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