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Tyler Hawkins
Tyler Hawkins

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There Will Always Be More Work

Software engineering is an interesting field because the work never really ends. You may be working to finish a feature now, but after that there will be more features to build. More bugs to fix. More tech debt to pay down.

You could spend your entire life working and never really "finish." I suspect the same is true of most other professions.

And yet, I often feel a sense of urgency, that I must work later or longer to get more work done.

To be clear, this isn't a result of poor time management –– I get plenty of work done throughout the day, more than is expected of me. I'm not trying to catch up because I've fallen behind. What I'm describing is an urge to continue working longer than necessary to get more work done simply because there is more work to do.

Logically, I realize that this is a mistake. Working longer hours does not always lead to greater productivity. In the long run, it leads to burnout.

So why do I feel this way? It may be because I enjoy my job. It may be because I feel a sense of ownership over the work. It may be because in the back of my mind it feels like I'm accomplishing something that can ultimately be finished.

But the truth is, none of these reasons are justifiable excuses for working longer hours, later nights, or during the weekend.

So this is my reminder to myself –– and to you –– that there will always be more work. Take care of yourself.

Don't burn yourself out. It's not worth it.

Discussion (9)

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codecraftr profile image
CodeCraftr

Great write-up, very recognizable! In my personal experience this feeling is also caused by your own constant learning and thus a shifting perspective of "what is right". Therefore you always spot better ways to do something in pieces of code you have already written 🙂

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thawkin3 profile image
Tyler Hawkins Author

Haha yes! Even in my personal projects, it's always tempting to go back and re-write things from several years ago. But in a way it's nice to look back at old code with disgust and realize how much you've learned since then. 🙂

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Lucas Gonze

I have been realizing lately how much happiness contributes to my productivity. Yesterday I took a generous break to work out during lunch and got a ton of work done in the afternoon.

Taking care of yourself is good for your job.

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thawkin3 profile image
Tyler Hawkins Author

Absolutely! It's hard to force yourself to be productive when you're really not feeling it. I've been trying to do the same lately, matching whatever I'm doing with my current energy level.

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thejohnstew profile image
John Stewart

I felt this way for a long time and ultimately led to burning out two years ago. Took me a very long time to recover from that and in many ways I still struggle with this today.

There will always be more work and you can always be doing something to feel more "productive". Because of this, it's important to remember that although many of us work as part of sprints. Life and your career is very much a marathon. So pace yourself, take breaks, and only sprint when you really need to.

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thawkin3 profile image
Tyler Hawkins Author

Well said!

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detzam profile image
webstuff

Exactly. Do the best you can and if you really want to finish it, talk to the superiors on removing some 'features' and add them in new versions. Not everything should be in the first version of the app. Thats how big apps get done.
Also Health is the most important thing !

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aaditkamat profile image
Aadit Kamat

Excellent post, Tyler. Even as I've just started out on my journey as an Engineer, I've quickly come to realize how true this is. Solving existing problems create new ones. As much as work is important because it occupies a significant chunk of your life (hence the term "occupation"), there are other buckets of your life that need to be filled up as well.

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Yamo Gebrewold

Great reminder. That sense of urgency may also arise from poor project management too with unreasonable deadlines and expectations. But I agree, health must be prioritized above work.