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Grinding as a developer

As a software developer, could you share?

  • When did you grind the hardest and was it worth it?
  • How did you avoid burnout?
  • Would you advice someone to do same?

Discussion (28)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

When I was first taking the plunge into software development after realizing this is the field I really wanted to be in I was basically studying from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep β€” so ~18 hour days. And I was working until ~4am and then waking up around 10 and getting back to it. It was not a healthy routine.

I also eventually got shingles from the physical stress and had to stop completely.

The thing isΒ β€” I was enjoying myself and certain of the goal I want to achieve. But my advice would be to have the confidence that I could achieve the goals without burning the candle at both ends like that. It certainly was not good for me.

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techmaniacc profile image
Joseph Mania

I once agreed to work on project, so that at the end i will get 30% of the company's share.Fuck after 3 months of less sleep, not working out, just indoors.I was almost finishing the product, the non-technical team comes with their own complains. I gave up. I don't think i will ever agree to work on product on share basis, if its contract then let milestone play the game

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atulcodex profile image
Atul Prajapati

In 2019 before pendamic same thing happens with me also, then i have learned with that mistake.

"Take only calculative risk, It's life"

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jesterxl profile image
Jesse Warden • Edited on
  1. Freelance, back in 2008 or 2012. Generally I had really good years, but one in particular was just a series of bad clients in a row which lead to low income. I finally had 2 good clients in a row, and one was hourly for a few months. Given it was hourly, and they didn't put a cap on my hours, I dove in hard, working as long and as hard as possible. The goal was to get back in black; meaning, not in debt and profitable again. I've had to do this twice, but I remember that particular year I was exhausted and super depressed. But once the client work came in, I knew I had no choice; I had a wife who was a stay at home mom, and new kid so had no choice, but to grind my way out of the hole. Totally worth it. As always, I learned a lot, both in coding and in business. I also got a lot stricter with vetting clients, and requiring money down initially to start projects.

  2. I don't. I get burnt out all the time. However, I've learned to notice the signs and realize "I'm not going to be able to code anymore today or for a few days", so just stop working and go to some other hobby to recharge. Also, while my sleep schedule has gotten way more strict, if for whatever reason it slips, I've also become extra sensitive to realize if I start getting burnt out, it's probably that and not to worry as it's "just sleep related" vs. overworking or something else like disengagement because I hate the project or whatever. Key for me to avoid getting burn out frequently: sleep, eat healthy/work out, have other hobbies readily available to take my mind off "work" or "work and fun", ensure the tech stack I'm working with I like, and ensure I dig my co-workers.

  3. I would not advise people do what I do. I love coding, and prioritize it over my hobbies. Maybe it's a disorder like "workaholic", but... I love it, and sometimes just can't stop. I've just come to accept that after hours and hours of toiling away combined with normal life challenges (kids, bills, cleaning, etc) that I'll just get burned out eventually. That's fine as I've learned to recognize the signs and take a break. It pays off, for me at least, because I constantly am learning, feel like I'm improving my career, but only stay sad/depressed from burn out super short compared to years ago.

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gass profile image
Gass

Interesting experience, thanks for sharing.

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atulcodex profile image
Atul Prajapati

Hope you have enjoyed this journey :)

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matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno

It's a frequent occurance that I think of a solution literally right after turning my computer off for the night. I remember telling an interviewer my strategy for solving hard problems, after trying all the easy stuff, was to sleep on it. Still not sure if that answer was received well or not, but it's the truth.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited on
  • Ignore deadlines
  • Don't grind
  • Arrive on time, leave on time
  • Leave work at work
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codesalley profile image
Code Salley

It’s a bit hard to leave work at work as a remote developer.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

But you can close all related windows, machines etc... and not open them again until work starts again the next day. My job is 3 days a week remote, and 2 days in office.

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codesalley profile image
Code Salley

I agree. Craving for an in office job. I might have to relocate temporarily just to try it.

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atulcodex profile image
Atul Prajapati

yes I totally agree

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mmuller88 profile image
Martin Muller

no no no. Steadiness, fun a good healty life style beats all of that, is much more maintainable and just makes sense.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff

This ^^

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Grinding happens all the time because we are constantly learning. Programming languages change and improve all the day and every year new tools become available. Burnout is tough the best thing you can do is just take a break from the coding and focus on something else. Like travelling, cooking, reading, exercise etc...

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babib profile image
ππšπ›π’ ✨ Author

I always learn a lot from posts like these. Thank you all so much for your contributions!

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matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno

Hardest grind for software was probably for my "integrated design" class. Microcontrollers have a way of making easy seeming problems become hard, and we were tasked with making a pulse oximeter with an arduino uno. Arduinos are certainly easier to work with than something like a TI microcontroller, but the uno was severely underpowered for our mostly software implementation. The main problem was that we had built an entire working system and debugged over USB, when we finally tried to implement the required screen readout, we learned that the oled driver library used over HALF of the arduino's memory. Had we tried this earlier like any experienced engineer would, we would have realized this and pushed more functionality onto analog signal processing (or allocate time into rewriting the oled library). Unfortunately we were in too deep at that point and I remember spending weeks up late just to shave off literal bytes of memory usage so we could get our previously functional (and rather impressive) product to a state of barely working.
Worth it because of the grade and the story, but definitely not a healthy or productive way to work. If we had been smarter earlier on we could have avoided the grind. I was very stressed those weeks and honestly pretty mean as well because of it. Grind is not meant nor should it be a way of life. Your product quality will suffer, your efficiency will plummet, and you'll run into a slew of mental health and personal issues if you make a habit out of grinding. Everyone does it once in a while, but grinding needs to be seen as the result of a failure in the process (be it in planning, management, problem specification, or implementation), not a needed step.

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Jan KΓΌster • Edited on

I think you need to differenciate between grinding and crunch time. With grinding I understand that I stay focused on solving one (often ugly) problem or task until it's done. After this things go back to normal.

Crunch time in contrast is when there is a milestone coming up and all remaining work (including former mentioned "ugly" work) needs to be done with no exception. Depending on the workload and remaining time this can be exhaustive to all your maximum. Think of the people on Code red when Cyberpunk was about to be released...

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jwp profile image
John Peters • Edited on

Not sure what the term means exactly but I think it means push to almost burnout.

For a period of about 10 years I allowed LinkedIn recruiters to contact me. This led to a successive series of accepting new jobs about every 2 years or less. Each new job increased my salary and streched my limits, sometimes too much.

My salary now is πŸ‘ and I love my current position. For now I'm done with contracting, it's too stressful; but I learned a huge set of new tricks and the 4 top languages. This makes me a prime marketable candidate should I become open to work.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff
  1. I had to work on a prototype for a decentralized app, 4 or 5 years ago or so, nobody forced my too, but I put excessive hours of work, without much rest, not sleeping well, eating like crap, not exercising, etc... this went for 3 weeks, and in the 4th week I broke down and left the project. It was not worth at all, could've taken my time and could've finished the prototype.
  2. I did not on the example above. How I do it now is by sleeping well, exercising and putting the appropriate amount of hours into the projects. Also remember that the job is part of your life, not your life.
  3. No, not at all. It's not worth it, the project and you will suffer from it.
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volker_schukai profile image
Volker Schukai

When we started our company, we worked hard and had many night shifts and yes it was worth it, it was the cornerstone of our company.

As long as you do something that you really enjoy and the pressure comes from within, it's not bad. Only when the pressure comes from outside, then it becomes dangerous from my point of view.

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taijidude profile image
taijidude • Edited on

2016 Employed fulltime and working on a startup. 70 - 80h weeks.

Trew in the towel on the startup after a disastrous launch and after multiple clashes with the "management". Learned a lot and would do it again. But i would throw in the towel earlier. It's okay to work hard for a time. But it's not sustainable.

Keep your goal in mind and work towards it. Hard work should at some point pay off. If there is no improvement in sight and things do not get better... Run!

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atulcodex profile image
Atul Prajapati

1st Ans: When client ask for ugly UI changes in beautiful project.
2nd Ans: I just stop working for few minutes and start watching Mahabharat It gives me clarity of my thoughts and then I accept client needs :)
3rd Ans: Yes, I highly recommend. Be clear with your thoughts.

Jai Shree Krishna

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techmaniacc profile image
Joseph Mania

Sure, i convinced myself about that, but at the end a, I was only able to add it on my portfolio

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irangig profile image
irangig

I remember trying to write a simple Java program for college, after day and night. After 5 hours of not being able to get anywhere, I fell asleep, woke up, and resolved my problem in 30 minutes. You cannot force your mind to think if you do not want to.