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Ask HN: What's your working day like?
377 points by a1815 on May 8, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 415 comments
I'm curious about the details of the usual working day for different professions/positions (not necessary technical).

Examples of professions/positions: UI Designer, CEO, Sales, CTO, Welder, Trader (online/offline), Recruiter, System developer/administrator, Web developer, Civil Engineer, Quality Assurance Engineer, Teacher, Professor, Astronaut... Anything.

I'll start:

Profession/position: Web developer - full time, remote - <50 employees organization.


    - Wake up & prepare myself.

    - Join a 10~15min call with my team (3 Developers, 1 Manager, 1 Designer).

    - Start working on assigned issues, usually for 1~4hours.

    - Catching up with emails/team conversations.

    - Reviewing other developers patches.

    - Repeat until calling it a day, usually 7~8 hours with 1 hour break.

Profession: Software "Engineer"

[06:15] First alarm goes off;

[06:45] Finally wake up, get out of bed, shower, shave, make espresso for me and the wife

[07:15] out the door, 30 minute commute to office

[07:45] breakfast bagel at my work cafe

[08:00] arrive at desk, begin contemplating work -- work on something I procrastinated on the previous day so that I can have a good standup report

[9:00] everyone arrives at office, noise increases 10x, I am physically unable to concentrate anymore. Earplugs and noise-deadening headphones help some, but then having those on distracts me

[10:00 til 05:45 or 6:30 pm] Constant battling distractions, meetings, interruptions, and general work-related chaos, trying to somehow manage to squeeze in any actual developer work. Work proclaims how 'fun it is to work here! awesome! totes cool! We have so much cool stuff! Our culture is the best culture!'

Help me.

Profession: software "engineer" too.

[08:00] First alarm goes off;

[10:00] I'm starting to wake up

[11:00] Some quick HN checking

[12:00] Ok, off to office.

[13:00] At the office; talking with customer if needed, otherwise desperately trying to get some work done amidst noise and distractions, including but not limited to people occasionally playing board games for a break.

[18:00] All my cow-orkers in the room have finally left for the day. Time to get some actual work done.

[21:00] Ok, time to head home.

[22:00] Let's eat something quickly and go to sleep.

[02:00] That side project is _way_ too interesting; I guess I'll be waking up at 10:00 tomorrow again...

So no help from me.

The other day, one of my cow-orkers asked me, how can I bear working late hours - it must be very lonely. I desperately tried not to answer that with "that's precisely the point".

Your work schedule speaks to mine on a spiritual level. I can't imagine working anywhere where strict hours (9-5 or similar) are required.

It's mostly hard for me because of... some weird mix of biology and psychology, I guess. Since the end of highschool, I'm incapable of maintaining a "morning person" lifestyle for longer than half a week, full week at best. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the benefits of having some time alone in the office, when I can focus.

Have you done a sleep study? I used to feel this way about my own sleep schedule, turns out I sucked at breathing and sleeping at the same time (sleep apnea).

I haven't. I guess I should. You reminded me that I've been told in the past that I sometimes have moments of heavy (loud) breathing.

It's not necessarily strict; just most convenient.

"Non-strict, not lazy"

>The other day, one of my cow-orkers asked me, how can I bear working late hours - it must be very lonely. I desperately tried not to answer that with "that's precisely the point".

Is your cow-orker also a software engineer (or "engineer" if you prefer, esp. in their case)?

I'm starting to think that a large majority of software developers actually like open-plan work environments with lots of interruptions, however they also don't browse forums like this very much. They do well (or well enough to keep their jobs) in these environments, enjoy them, but they don't hang out on places like this online either at work or after-hours, and go home to play with their kids or watch sports or hang out at bars.

Yes, he's also a software engineer[0]. Yes, I have a similar suspicion.

This is a longer topic, but in my mind there's a bimodal distribution on a spectrum of attitude towards programming. Some, like me, are people in love with technology, who go home to tinker on side projects. Other - like that cow-orker - treat software as a career, and they go home to socialize, play board games with friends, etc. Without judging anyone, my impression is that our industry is mostly filled with the second kind of people now[1], and they seem to predominantly feel good in open-space offices.

In the end, I figured that my preferences must be in minority, so I don't complain too much. That is, unless someone is really distracting me for longer periods of time, at which point I'll kindly ask them to stop.


[0] - I'm not here to tell him how he should feel about his degree. For myself, looking back at the education I got, I think my feelings were best expressed by a friend of mine: "if for that I'm an engineer, then I'm afraid to go to a doctor".

[1] - I believe it used to be different in the past, but that impression might be colored by small exposure to the real software world in my teens; the kind of people you meet on-line in programming circles are usually self-selected to be tech lovers / geeks.

>For myself, looking back at the education I got, I think my feelings were best expressed by a friend of mine: "if for that I'm an engineer, then I'm afraid to go to a doctor".

Don't worry too much: doctors get far more education and training than we engineers do, and it's a lot more rigorous. They have to get a 4-year undergrad premed degree, and then at least 4 years in med school, plus residency (which is basically on-the-job training), etc. It's nothing at all like engineering where you can get a BS in 4 years or so and then be set loose.

Wow, I've never realized I may have filter bubbled myself to believe that all devs hate open offices. Not sure I want to believe that either, though. Too depressing.

It's pretty normal for people to believe their opinion is the majority one; I'm sure there's a psychological term for it ("confirmation bias" I think).

But I've seen way too many devs who seem to actually like being able to interrupt their coworkers to think that all devs hate that, and I've seen way too many comments on places like this in favor of open offices.

I remember having a similar 6pm alone with the walls bliss in my last mission. Absence allowed me to fill the room with ideas and motivation. Very nice and very odd at the same time.

Many people complain about the usual work chaos. I'm also an engineer and I don't get it. For me, having other people come and ask questions is not distraction but an opportunity to help, learn to know their point of view, learn new things. Meetings are a way to influence the direction of the company however small my influence may be. Other people talking can really distract if it's heavily on topic, but usually also enables a little smalltalk 2-3 times each hour, which provides a lot of the otherwise missing social life between Monday Morning and Friday Afternoon. Even the actual development can happen together with one or two other guys, which increases the speed (since what's hard for me is usually easy for one of the colleagues and vice versa) and makes the solutions smarter (you can't just think off something, you need to be able to argue it as well).

In my eyes it's really addicting, and I usually get this after-disco/cinema low when the amount of people in office starts to slow down.

What's the actual "engineering work" you are trying to do without interacting with people all the time?

Edit: I think most answers can be summarized as "When I'm left alone I get into the flow mode, and that's enjoyable". The same way I mostly get it when working together with a colleague on a problem. Both ways may not always be the most productive, but due to producing a good feeling we prefer these. I see, thanks for showing your points of view.

Hmm. How about actually building stuff? For most software engineers, thats a very important part of their job/life/happiness. That requires long focus and flow. And in my personal opinion has a great sense of fulfillment attached to it compared to lot of scattered micro impacts. Ultimately you need to learn to balance both otherwise it gets very frustrating​.

Yeah, not for me. My experience with building stuff on my own: Very stressful and long winding, a lot of procrastination and unsocial habbits start to creep in after a week, solution is not really valuable to anybody since nobody is familiar with it.

The biggest, most used solutions I helped building usually happened when I cooperated with others. The same discussions that happen in your head, just that part of it is coming from another brain.

Most of this kind of 'collaboration' that I have seen have fallen in the bikeshedding or superficial variety. Not all work is of this kind. Some require building mental constructs and contexts that are easily derailed and painstaking to reconstruct

Do you have to personally write every single line of code or are you happy when the whole team builds the code?

Not the previous poster, but I'd argue that being able to point to something meaningful (doesn't have to be the whole system, but a coherent component) and say "I made that" brings satisfaction that's hard to beat.

This seems tricky to reconcile with the "everything is done by a team" model that's currently in vogue.

Also: http://heeris.id.au/2013/this-is-why-you-shouldnt-interrupt-...

The above comic strip absolutely perfectly shows what's it about for me. Though I agree there is stuff better done with others (brainstorming, or discussing hard problems where you're stuck; also variants of rubber-duck debugging/designing; I'd say it boosts "breadth" and "lateral thinking"). But for many people there is most certainly also stuff better done alone ("depth" I suppose? often things like analysing interactions between subsystems; or building an algorithm; or reading docs or a paper; researching existing apps/solutions/libs in order to "spreadsheet" their pros & cons; also analysing/designing thread interactions; or debugging, building internal knowledge of a problem - which is also a required step before rubber-ducking, or generally discussing it, is even possible; also arguably maybe reviewing someone else's code).

+1, this comic strip is perfect. It describes the issue precisely, in a way rarely seen even in best comic strips.

Things I have to do fall into two categories - either I immediately know how to approach them, at which point I can code while having conversations and there's little you can do to distract me - or, I don't immediately know how to approach them, at which point I need time alone and in peace to load the whole system into my head and think through appropriate steps, possibly running mental simulations of several solutions in my head. The second kind of work is when I turn into a pretty antisocial person - I don't just avoid conversations, I avoid being in the same room with other people.

And frankly, second kind of work is kind of more important. It doesn't take skill to pump out hundreds of lines of code an hour. It takes skill and concentration to write those and only those lines that move the project forward in a way that's maintainable down the road.

I also have that feeling, but only when coding with other people. The only time I really need to think that complex on my own is when I learn a really new topic. E.g. two weekends ago I really wanted to learn how iptables work because I was so frustrated that most SO/blog answers are not agreeing with each other, they often don't work when just copy&pasting, and nobody really explains why he chose that way and not another. [1] Then I really need to spend like 24h just reading docs and building these complex systems in my head.

With two people these complex systems often also end up in actual diagrams or code, which then can be tested or used for documentation and later lookup.

[1] http://stackoverflow.com/questions/43375012/wrapping-ones-he...

Somebody has to do something. If everyone is running around talking to everyone else like a bunch of agitated monkeys, no real work actually gets done.

Well, have you noticed that I argued exactly the opposite?

I did, but I was replying to 'grogenaut in reply to 'nyrulez, by pointing out that while one doesn't have to feel responsible for writing all code, somebody has to feel responsible for writing some code, at least some of the time.

> I usually get this after-disco/cinema low when the amount of people in office starts to slow down

When the office slows down and things get quieter is when I find myself finally able to get completely focused in on things that require all of my attention.

I enjoy meetings, business talk, planning and miscellaneous conversations with coworkers more than (I think) most software developers, but to get any sizable software project done I do best with chunks of a few hours at a time to get into a focused state, get all of the moving parts loaded into my head, then actually write the code/fix the bug etc.

My solution to this–in an office that I share with people who talk on the phone–is to show up in the late morning after they've made their morning calls, and leave in the evening a few hours after they leave. This way we overlap in the afternoon, but I get some time with a quiet office where I can really think.

Just while writing this comment several conversations happened around me that drew my attention away from what I was writing. When I focused my attention back to the comment, I had to skim what I'd just written to 'reload' my thoughts. At least for me, this 'reloading' process takes a long time when it comes to writing software, despite various tricks I've come up with over the years to help speed it up.

Same here. As described in the schedule I posted elsewhere in this thread, I tend to come to office at 12:00 - 13:00[0]. And I like it quite much. Most of the cow-orkers in my room work ~09:00 - ~17:00, so there's 4-5 hours of overlap in the afternoon, followed by 3 hours of peace when I can focus and get something done. There are days when I do actually manage to come as early as 08:00, and those days I really miss being alone in the room.


[0] - Had long battles about that with my boss. He gave up after a year, realizing that there's no way to make me come before 10:00 regularly (my sleeping patterns are weird), but I am there when it matters and get the job done.

Yeah that "reloading " process is hard for me as well, which is why I wear headphones. But some people don't respect headphones! They still interrupt with trivial bs, even after you've given them every possible nonverbal clue that you're trying to get shit done!

I actually ditched shitty Bluetooth headphones and bought myself a HyperX Butt set for work just because of noisy cow-orkers. Works wonders for ambient noise and I enjoy the quality of whatever I am listening to, but as you said, some people still don't get the clue.

Yeah, it doesn't matter how good your headphones are when some asshole sneaks up behind you and taps you on the shoulder to ask you some inane question that he could have sent in an email.

Sometimes I wonder if it's assholeness or just complete inability to read nonverbal cues.

> complete inability to read nonverbal cues

Isn't that the default in software departments/companies? However, usually that is considered an "asshole" by the general population, despite actually being a good reason for not reacting to nonverbal communication.

I think it's assholes, for lack of a better term. Instead of respecting your privacy and sending you an email to avoid interrupting you, they think that whatever concern they have is more important and worth interrupting you.

I enjoy helping when people come up to me with legitimate questions, for all the reasons you mention. It feels like half the time, I'm being bugged not for any real reason, but because the person couldn't bother to put some effort in first.

For example, I've become known as "the regex guy" at the office. I know regex really well as well as the ins and outs of the regex engines of languages we use. I don't mind when I get called over to help with a tough regex, or optimizing something. But way too often whatever I get interrupted and cross the building just to replace ".*" with ".+" or something equally simple.

I usually just type the solution and tell them my copy of Mastering Regular Expressions is on the office bookshelf if they'd like to borrow it, the first chapter should cover all the basics. I'm also very happy to explain the basics of regex to someone in my down time, but very few people have taken me up on that offer.

Well of course people are gonna keep calling on you, you're known as the guy who will cross the building to fix their work for them! What incentive does anyone have to borrow your copy of Mastering Regular Expressions when their problems can be fixed with a simple email to you?

Sometimes you really have two NOOP choices:

1. Give them a quick answer and point them to the book but they'll never read it and continue to interrupt even if you told them to not interrupt for trivial matters. On and now you're so much of patronizing dork. Back to square one.

2. Don't give them the answer, and point them to the book. Now you're the smartass jerk that doesn't socialize. Plus they won't read the book and invent some crazy solution to get shit done and later when you have to fix the mess the WTF/min ratio goes through the roof. Back to square one.

Which leaves you with three possible actions: DealWithIt, RageQuit, or RageFix, only one of them being a long term fix but things don't happen in a vacuum and you're not always in a position to do so.

I don't see the problem with choice #2. Being "the smartass jerk that doesn't socialize" means you don't get bothered with stupid questions as much, and having to "fix the mess" means that you get to be the hero when someone else's crap doesn't work, and you can put that in your weekly summary.

Programmer who doesn't know regex is something like a system admin who doesn't know sed.

I do ok.

regex and sed also feels somewhat related. hehe

No surprise, some people prefer other methods of work than others. But it isn't black and white.

Helping others is fun but I've been on both sides. There are plenty of people who always need help and never put effort in, and are extremely distracting and lower morale.

And interactions are not always of the "Hey can you explain this" variety. Sometimes it's your manager worrying about a project and nitpicking every detail and still managing to not know what's going on. Sometimes it's your manager trying to prove he is "technical" despite not being technical at all, and just downplays your work. Yes, I deal with this daily. Sometimes people are just assholes, and HR/management doesn't deal with it because they produce or are too afraid. Something else I deal with daily. And on top of that, sometimes I just don't want to talk to someone about something. I just want to focus and get done what I need to get done.

> What's the actual "engineering work" you are trying to do without interacting with people all the time?

Building systems. Adding features to software. Debugging it. Anything more trivial than generating and wiring classes that someone else designed for you.

I guess a lot depends on the kind of work you're doing. In all of the projects I worked on, 90% of work time would be spend on actually doing it, and only 10% on talking about it (and most of that at the beginning, and then at some critical moments in the project). After the design discussions had been concluded and we've settled on appropriate division of labour (critical aspect: modularity, so that people can work in isolation and have to agree only on interfaces), it was mostly individual work.

Now don't get me wrong, I love helping others and answering their questions, or sitting with them and figuring stuff out. Just not all the time, and not in the very moment I'm trying to do something cognitively demanding (like redesigning half a dozen subsystems, or carefully weaving in new features requested by the client in a way that doesn't disrupt the rest of the application).

Suppose you are taking a math exam. One about advanced calculus that is really hard and taxing. I'm talking about one of those that is five hours long and there are only three problems in total on the test, so you are expected to spend over an hour on each problem.

Would you prefer if a) the environment was quiet and no one was interrupting you. Or b) the environment was noisy and you were constantly interrupted by people talking about how they spent their weekend.

To many developers, productive work is like taking a math exam. Therefore we want the same kind of environment (a distraction free one) to do our best work.

I think most answers can be summarized as "When I'm left alone I get into the flow mode, and that's enjoyable". The same way I mostly get it when working together with a colleague on a problem. Both ways may not always be the most productive, but due to producing a good feeling we prefer these.

I think it's hard to separate the questions of productivity and satisfaction. It's satisfying because you're being productive, but conversely it's easy to dodge the urge to procrastinate because the results are satisfying. So the two go hand in hand.

(And yes, I entirely recognise that for some people the satisfying+productive mode does involve intense, fine-grained collaboration, while for others it doesn't. I've seen both modes work, and don't really see why they shouldn't coexist -- although ideally with walls and doors to keep the noise of the collaborative types at bay!)

When I left NetApp (single office) and joined Google (quad cube) it was quite a shock and very disorienting. However, since it was the way Google wanted to do things I practiced non-listening, which is to say keeping my focus on my screen and project and ignoring my ear inputs. Oddly the best tool for practicing was 'World of Warcraft' as it provided a continual level of required attention so it was easier to practice not listening. It took a couple of months but I got to the point where I could sit in my cube, work on my code and three office mates could be having a conversation around me without distracting me.

The interesting side effect is that people actually expect me to be listening sometimes when I'm not. So they will say something, expect a response, and not get it and it will surprise (and sometimes annoy) them. I've been unable to 'selectively' listen to avoid that, its either all on (and distracting) or all off (and not distracting).

Selective hearing was always Superman's superpower that I envied the most. He could hear just exactly when Lois Lane would cry for help, even if not expecting. All else he could just ignore

wait... did Google let you play WoW at work to practice this new arrangement?

:-) At the time Google was pretty reasonable about people doing what ever it took to become more productive. And it wasn't exactly 'hard core' playing, it was simply a tool that provided the necessary engagement motivation.

Not unlike processing all of the works of Shakespeare into bags of words and n-gram vectors and correlation maps to get a handle on how you can slice and dice documents for search. Nobody expected the time spent slicing and dicing Shakespeare would generate useful work product, but it did help train you so that you could generate useful work product.

And like the Shakespeare exercises, once the benefit was realized you moved on.

> [08:00] ... work on something I procrastinated on the previous day so that I can have a good standup report

lol, me too, I'm afraid to admit. Every dang day.

My equivalent of that, when I have a bad day and/or was working primarily on conceptual stuff, is to find some low-hanging refactoring fruit (like a typo a cow-orker made in a class name) that I can do in 2 minutes and that will touch several files, so there's some movement from me on source control. I tend to notice and note down such "high-noise/low-importance" quick fixes, so that the next time I spend few days grappling with huge architectural issues, I don't hear "you didn't commit anything in the past few days, what's wrong".

Commits are a really terrible metric when it comes to measuring productivity for this exact reason.

I also read this and though to myself "I didn't know other people do that too" :)

I want to assume many of us are like this.

Profession: Another Software "Engineer"

[05:00 - 06:00] Wake up with the sun, and work in bed on side projects on personal laptop;

[06:00] Get myself together, spend the only waking time I have with my infant child during the week.

[06:30] Gym

[07:00] Commute to work

[08:10] arrive at desk, have breakfast at desk while picking up on momentum from yesterday, or fixing what problem I was too mind-numbed to see through the afternoon before

[8:30 - 9:30] Everyone else streams in. Catch up on non-tech business developments in informal chat.

['til 6:30] Work, work, work + mental breaks on HN. Find 20 minutes for lunch. Tea somewhere around 4:00 - 5:30 PM. Occasionally impromptu meeting with my manager for rubber ducking, feature planning, or architecture question.

Can't complain. Tiny start-ups are great when the personalities fit.

You may complain a lot later about not seeing your child grow up for more than 30 minutes a day, but I'm sure you have probably considered that :)

Believe me, I've considered it. For now, I'm content to take over parenting for a good chunk of the weekend, which gives the working mama a break and chance to prep for the next week. I'm banking on a big enough exit imminent before the baby hits 4 years old so that I never have to work again if I don't want to.

Failing that rough time frame, it's off to a big firm or government where hours are tightly defined. As you're alluding to, time is too precious a resource to squander. I joined this last company not long ago and I'm very enthusiastic about it, but this is the last start-up I can see myself doing. Unless someone is independently wealthy, I don't see how the commitment it takes is an acceptable sacrifice for a full and satisfying life once kids come into the picture.

>[06:30] Gym >[07:00] Commute to work

Serious question: How does this work? Do you work out for exactly 30 minutes and jump straight on transport / in the car / etc? 20 minutes plus a quick shower? Is there no time factored in for cleaning yourself up after working out, to be presentable at work?

Intense weight lifting, no more than 6 sets or so. Enough to get sore, not enough to break a sweat. Shower at night. Well over half the battle to stay fit is showing up to the place of exercise: even 2 sets at high enough intensity is enough to maintain and grow a fitness base. It took me a long time to optimize for it. I live in the Northeast, so if it's a hot summer's day, occasionally I do have to cut it short earlier and get in a shower. Sometimes I miss the train and have to take the next one - I try to take fewer breaks in the day to make up the lost 20 min. or so. ;-)

Living in the suburbs and having a similar 1 hour 20 min train ride to work, I ended up setting up a small workout space with a treadmill, weights and a rowing machine. It does the job but no substitute for a fully equipped gym. I applaud your disciplined schedule though. I still find it hard to work out consistently.

Find remote work. You can work in solitude (as is natural) and collaborate asynchronously (as it should be).

Made the switch a year ago after moving from web developer to tech lead and having all the issues you mentioned. Now I'm just writing code again. Best decision ever.

Not OP but in a similar situation. Believe me, I'm trying to. Unfortunately companies in my area are not too happy about remote work, and I don't feel ready yet to risk going full freelance (though I'm actively working on changing that).

But if it's remote work it doesn't need to be in your area (as long as they are willing to employ you, as opposed to contracting).

This week I'm trying to negotiate a remote work policy with my employer. Keep your fingers crossed :). The thing is, I actually like my work, and like my company. But due to mostly family reasons, I'd like it much more if I could spend at least 3 days / week out of the office. Long-term, I'll either relocate with my SO back to a major city, or I'll go freelance.

Oh I know the feeling. I'll just add to this: - Can I work from home? - No - Why? - Because working from home you might be not as efficient as from office

I once got my boss to admit that they didn't trust people to do actual work from home, and that's why they didn't allow it. It was oddly satisfying.

These days I can work from home when I want, but I don't because it stresses me out not to have a clear separation between home and work.

> These days I can work from home when I want, but I don't because it stresses me out not to have a clear separation between home and work.

It's really hard. Takes some practice and discipline. One good way is to literally switch everything off (computers phones) at the end of the day. Stops you from "just answering that email" etc.

Another good one is leaving the house (drop off kids, buy breakfast coffee, whatever) end then when you are back home you are "at work". Then repeat when leaving work.

Shift it an hour earlier, and that is exactly my day. Except it is public sector, so no one is forced to pretend that it is fun.

Same. The bit about headphones kills me.

I love being in the office until the cacophony of everyone else begins and the noise is maddening. Sometimes I don't want to need to listen to music to be uninterrupted.

I now work from home 2-3+ days per week, even though I live about 20 minutes from HQ.

SW Engineer as well. Office can get noisy quite quickly, so I wouldn't be able to focus without headphones and Spotify. If music distracts you(vocals are the main suspect), try some ambient noises, or movie soundtracks(Hans Zimmer, John Williams). Also a comfortable pair of headphones is preferable.

Earplugs are great.

I had the same problem with distraction. At the moment I am writing this, I have just finished working and its 4am, will leave office at 4:30. will crash on my bed around 5am.

tough I am reading the art of learning, and I have been trying to train myself to work in a distracting environment. Because you can never control your external factors.

there are two counter points in that book he makes though: 1. the best players control the game by directing it towards their strengths 2. take your own playing style into consideration

you can write software any where you can take your cpu, pixel grid and network thing me bob

Sounds like you work at my old job. It's amazing how much some companies can talk about how cool they are. No one gives a fuck how many times you can say you are cool, put up or shut up.

Get a remote gig ;)

Profession: Firefighter - Full time <600 organization

Workday (kind of, nothing is typical at the firehouse):

- [06:00]: Wake up - get dressed covertly and slip out of the house

- [06:30] Arrive at the station - Get coffee! Find my "relief" which is the similarly ranked person on the off going shift.

- run 911 calls

- [07:30] Have "line up"; Where we discuss what drills we have planned, eat some breakfast... drink more coffee. Talk about the previous day off.

- run 911 calls

- [08:30] Workout. Generally we have a mix of runners, lifters and crossfitters. Sometimes we will do the workout "on air" with our SCBA packs on... sometimes we need to just walk a few miles. Everyone on my shift likes to workout.

- run 911 calls

- [10:00] Shower and checkout equipment or drill. Send someone to the grocery store for the meals of the day.

- run 911 calls

- [11:00] Cook lunch, check email, and do any CE/Online training

- run 911 calls

- [12:00] eat lunch (between 12 and 2pm we typically get to eat... based on calls) , then pick up

- [13:30] safety nap for the long night ahead

- run 911 calls

- [14:30] Afternoon coffee, plan drills for the next shift. Admin stuff.

- run 911 calls

- [15:00] Drill on some piece of equipment. Learn or relearn something. Generally Fire in the morning, EMS in the Afternoon.

- [16:00] start preparing dinner

- [17:00] Flag down and eat (depending on calls). We can watch TV or do personal stuff after this time.

- run 911 calls for the night, try to sleep

- [06:00] awake and get ready to go home.

I've been a software engineer for the past 20 years but I'm really looking at changing things up and doing something totally different—I just can't stand spending so much time in front of a computer anymore (I find myself looking for excuses to do physical activity away from the screen). This sounds exactly like the sort of thing I'd enjoy, and I'd get to learn lots of useful skills and serve my local community at the same time. I'd be fine with taking a pay cut.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a firefighter? Or any resources that you can point me to?

I'm not OP but I went through fire academy in the US with someone doing a similar career change as you're thinking about. He was in his late 30s or early 40s, and as I remember, academy was too physically demanding for him and he dropped out. Fire service, and in particular urban and wildlife firefighting, can be quite physically challenging. More suburban or rural areas are less demanding, but are mostly staffed by volunteers.

Four things to keep in mind: first, in most US jurisdictions these days, firefighting is coupled with EMS. So if you're squeamish around trauma, it's probably not going to be a good fit. Second, it's pretty physically demanding. Even if the academic side comes naturally to you, it's a very physical job. Third, it can literally kill you. If you don't handle stress well, it's not going to be a good fit. Fourth, it's a team effort. Even on extremely understaffed departments, you're always dependent upon other people, and they are always dependent on you -- sometimes, in both cases, for survival.

Out of my academy class, roughly 1/3 the class struggled with the academic portion, roughly 1/3 struggled with the physical portion, and the last 1/3 had to work at it, but didn't really struggle.

For reference, these are some of the kinds of things we needed to do:

+ Simulated rescue of 165-pound dummy

+ Move hose lines, both charged (with water) and uncharged (no water)

+ Climb ladders until you suck the bottle dry

+ Crawl through a wire entanglement tunnel in full gear (I think we also went through one round with "blindfold" inserts in our SCBA masks)

+ Drills with time limits on almost everything (donning gear, doffing gear, bottle changes, on-air, off-air...)

And so on. My advice would be, get in shape first, and manage your expectations. Many departments will be pretty hesitant hiring someone who's 20 years more senior than all of the rest of the recruits. Volunteer would probably be a better fit, but less of a career change and more of a side project.

It is mostly EMS now... just fair warning. A lot of your options, like software engineering, depend on where you live and/or where you would like to re-locate. That is, lots of volunteer and professional options on the east coast... while mostly professional paid/career options on the west coast.

I cannot speak to the volunteer tier of the fire service, I am simply ignorant to the demands of that side. I can speak to the west coast professional model. To be clear, there are lots of professional options on the east coast too. I just don't know them.

In my humble opinion, this job is not for everyone. This job like any other has lots of cool shit and tons of horrible shit too. The ageism that may or may not exist in software is real in firefighting. Not due to politics or opinion or the SV stuff.... NO, It has do with the physical stress the body takes in this profession. It isn't commercial fishing, but sleep deprivation and picking up patients that weigh 500lbs, fighting brush fires all day, stress from seeing bad situations, etc. is real for most Fire/EMS folks today.

The academies are tough and the competition to get in is really high. For each class in my department, there are generally about 3K applicants. We select 30 or 40 and of those 15-25% will wash out of the academy before it's over.

If none of that makes you change your mind, go get EMT certified, Firefighter I and II certified, then take and pass the CPAT test... After that, start testing at every department that has open applications. You could probably script the app process :)

I went through academy (didn't work as FF though, just as EMS)[1] in Cleveland, in a program heavily oriented towards professional programs, and would echo most of this.

[1] I graduated just fine, but had pretty major time conflicts with grad school and decided not to go into FF full-time, which pretty much precluded my ability to do it at all, unfortunately.

Consider: http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/02/24/467984297/episo... There's a lot less fires than there used to be, might not be the best career to change into.

Most interesting. As a layperson I have trouble understanding what happens 17:00 to 06:00 the next day. What does it mean to "flag down" if you are still running 911 calls all night?

Typically between 17:00 and 06:00 I am trying to learn something other than EMS and Fire... in between calls of course. Lots of my buddies watch sports and/or read during that time.

If you are at a busy station that typically is the time you get the snot kicked out of you. That is, every time you put your head down the "tones" go off and you get back into the truck to handle a problem for the citizens of your community. Some problems are real, some are perceived, and most just need a firefighter/EMS person to tell them what they should do.

Flag down was captured perfectly by @throwanem.

I believe that in the US many (most?) fire departments are 24 hours on/48 hours off so the overnight is sleep at the fire station or respond to calls if there are any.

In this case I think "flag down" just means "no responsibilities other than responding to calls."

It could also be a literal reference to taking down the United States flag. Those organizations of which I've been a member, which flew the US flag, would strike it at or just before sunset, and I believe Title 4 of the US Code, which details respectful treatment of the national flag, requires that this be done.

ETA: Indeed, 4 USC 6(a) [1]:

It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

To the best of my understanding, no criminal penalty attaches to mishandling a flag in contravention of Title 4 requirements, despite the occasional misguided attempt to prosecute someone who, for example, incinerates a symbol of his nation in order to attempt some sort of point about the present conduct of its government. That said, it would surprise me to learn that anyone who flies the flag for patriotic reasons would disregard a legal recommendation regarding the proper manner of such display.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/6

> I believe Title 4 of the US Code, which details respectful treatment of the national flag, requires that this be done.

The cited provision requires nothing, it is purely descriptive (“it is the universal custom that...” is not “everyone who flies a flag shall...”)

> To the best of my understanding, no criminal penalty attaches to mishandling a flag in contravention of Title 4 requirements,

There is, for actual requirements, like those regarding advertising use of the flag in 4 USC Sec. 3. But section 6 subsections either describe custom or describe what “should” be done, and thus are not requirements in any sense.

There are six United States flags that are not required to follow this rule. Do you know which ones they are?

The one in front of the White House is one of them, I believe, but then I also seem to recall that it's lit 24/7, so may not count. The other five I couldn't hazard a guess at.

The six flags planted by the Apollo astronauts on the moon.


It's good to see people from other professions such as yours on HN. I often get the feeling that HN commentators are mostly senior software developers, but people like you kinda balance the atmosphere here.

Yeah, I do have two apps in the Play store and I love tinkering with Python... I have a dream that when I retire from the fire service, I will develop software for money or no money. It's a long shot... but I try to stay abreast.

(Vouched for civility and substance despite a recent ban. Please don't make me a fool to have done so.)

Thanks for your post. This is really cool. If you don't mind me asking:

1/ How many colleagues form a shift?

2/ How do you hand-over in case of a fire that spans across shift rotations?

3/ What happens if you need more help? Will it be the next shift's turn to help?

4/ "try to sleep" implies you have some flexibility within the shift itself?

5/ you do a lot if drills, training, learning .. is it also your job to think about improvements? Wondering how the feedback cycle works here ...

Sorry for the long list! Just really curious.

1. Depends on the number of trucks... typically 10 - 14 per station.

2. The oncoming crew waits until everyone for that shift is at the station, he/she notifies the Incident Commander who will arrange for pickup and change over. These are typically large defensive fires that just take a lot of water and time... not super taxing physically until it's over.

3. We call additional resources from surrounding stations. Our dispatch system is actually really good, coupled with super professional dispatchers.

4. We do have flexibility. I posted the ideal day... at busy stations you generally don't eat much and don't sleep at all. If you are running 20 calls a shift and each one takes 30 minutes minimum... well, your day is long.

5. Yeah, we try to improve all the time. However, change can introduce cataclysmic push back from "seasoned" fire/ems guys and gals. Ideas are constantly evaluated and judged. You need to have thick skin if you put forth a new idea... it is somewhat of a game to give each other a very hard time.

Not the OP, but having worked on the EMS side of a fire department, I can give some insight (though my department was much smaller than OP's):

1) Usually each fire engine is staffed with 3-5 firefighters. A minimum of four is really idea, but due to staffing/budget issues, many departments only have 3 people on each engine. The crew on each engine is usually one chauffeur/engineer/driver (who drives the fire engine and operates the water pumps), one officer (in-charge of the crew), and one or more general firefighters.

In most departments, each crew of 3-5 works for 24 hours and then has 48 hours off (or 24/72, or something similar), there are multiple groups of firefighters that all work on the same physical fire engine. Today, the "A shift" crew of Engine 1 might be staffing the fire engine numbered 1, but tomorrow, a different "B shift" crew will staff the same engine and operating under the name "Engine 1"

On a somewhat related note, the organizational/command structure of the fire department depends largely on size. My department/county had several on-duty battalion chiefs who each oversaw a handful of engines/trucks. FDNY, on the other hand, has ~50 battalion chiefs, each overseeing ~6-10 fire crews, and has higher organization into ~10 divisions and 5 borough commands.

2) It depends on the type of fire/call. If it's an automatic fire alarm or medical call that comes in 20 minutes before shift change, the out-going crew is expected to run the call to completion. However, if there's a large fire/major incident, the command staff usually coordinates shuttling of crews on and off scene to maintain adequate staff on scene, but get tired crews home and fresh crews there.

3) For any large fire, multiple fire engines/trucks from our department will be dispatched. There are standard protocols that determine how many and what types of units are dispatched for each incident. If the needs of the call overwhelm our department, or if the incident is close to our jurisdictional line, the command staff on the scene can call for mutual aid for neighboring departments. Most fire departments have automatic aid agreements with neighboring cities/counties so that the dispatch centers can talk to each other send the needed units

Great answers! We also do our own EMS which make up 90% of our calls...

I looked into becoming a volunteer firefighter after I got out of the Marines, but honestly the extremely long training required and the extremely high potential for PTSD from fire calls gone bad put me off from it.

When I got out of the Corps, I did some freelance writing here and there: local newspapers, regional/national magazines, etc.

One of my first stories was with some local firefighters that responded to a car wreck.

When they got there, there was a woman trapped in the wreck.

Then it caught fire. There was nothing they could do but watch the woman burn to death.

Decided then and there that firefighting wasn't in the cards for me.

What do you do now?

Developer team training. Everything from coding to requirements.

I was always good with computers. Even when I was writing, I ended up installing a computer network for the local newspaper. Eventually I just gave up and went into computers full-time.

Los Angeles FD has firefighters earning regular pay AND extra pay for having PTSD if you were involved in a particularly bad fire. Not sure how much that extra pay is.

Seeing how much PTSD has affected some of my marine buddies, I do not believe that any amount of extra pay is worth the horror that it can cause

The fires don't bother me much. It is the calls involving children that just eat me up... definitely have some stories and sights that I would love to delete.

I really liked 12 hour shifts when I was in tech support. Working 3 on and 3 off was amazing.

Same thing when I worked as a datacenter monkey as 4-10s. There's something extremely productive about having a day off in he middle of the week. It left my weekends totally open for "fun" because I wouldn't have any errands to run.

Just curious. What makes you hangout at HN?

I am a total nerd/geek. A 6'2" 215lb dyed-in-the-wool technology buff. While I enjoy hard blue collar work, I also enjoy chilling in front of a computer. I have some idea that, perhaps, someday I can try my hand at getting paid to code... or just contribute to OSS in a meaningful way, which I have done from time to time. Hopefully to better the fire/ems service or pre-hospital stuff. Or just scrape the shit out of the web for profit... lol.

Just curious: What makes you ask?

Legitimate question as it was also quite surprising for me to see a firefighter respond to an ask HN. Though op does have apps in the app store and tinkers with Python so this is their hobby I take it.

It's a weird idea that somehow only certain professions are deemed natural minglers in the HN crowd.

I am a factory worker, truck driver, what have you - a real grunting morlock. Am I trespassing? Ought I confine my interest to topics not too far beyond my station, or what is it exactly you are implying here?

Chill :). I doubt 'raheemm and 'joshbaptiste meant anything negative in those questions.

It's just that this site is dominated mostly by people in software engineering and related fields. It's interesting to know what makes people from other fields to come here and _stay here_, given that most topics are about software. To be clear: I appreciate all kinds of people from all fields being here; almost every week I learn something new and interesting from someone who's not in software.

There was an Ask HN a while ago that pretty much asked "Why are you here?" that received a lot of responses. IIRC, there was a fire lookout and some other interesting jobs that stood out... You're certainly not trespassing. To me, HN is just a better-moderated Reddit. Makes sense that it'd attract pretty much anyone (with a bias towards tech).

Profession: "Security" Engineer

[08:00] Wake up

[09:05] Arrive at work a little after 9 to fight the power

[09:15] Coffee. The daily pilgrimage to the Mr. Coffee is the highlight of my day.

[09:25] Go to meeting scheduled by demon. I don't need to be in the meeting and nod my head whenever they look at me.

[10:05] Check email to find a customer figured out my email and started emailing me on how to figure out their wifi password. This is their 5th time emailing me despite having forwarded them to customer support.

[10:45] Ask head of developer team if security issue XYZ is fixed yet. Dev team head says he doesn't think it's a real security issue and won't be dedicating resources to fixing it. Tells me to reopen the ticket as a "feature". Researcher plans on disclosing the security issue within the week.

[11:10] Check ticketing system to find 5 new emails from security researchers from India demanding bug bounty for a reflected XSS issue they found on one of our static promotional websites.

[11:15] Briefly consider a career change

[11:16] Remember how big dat paycheck is

[12:00] Lunch

[13:00] Meeting about long-standing architectural security issue that I want fixed. None of the PMs want to dedicate resources to fix it.

[14:00] CEO sends company wide email about how good our security is compared to our competition.

[15:00] By now I've read every reddit post on the first 20 pages.

[17:00] Go home while being too mentally exhausted to go out after work and make friends

Loving the wage slave life

> I don't need to be in the meeting and nod my head whenever they look at me.

Something I've noticed with a whole bunch of hindsight is that I used to say that a lot then I also used to complain nobody told me anything when I did get out of going to meetings.

Play the company's game or move to a different one. Switching up jobs is a great way to get out of a rut.

not a security engineer, but working at a large financial company a lot of these points hit especially 11:15 & 11:16 and 17:00 :))))

I don't get it - how can it matter that you make tons of money if you are not satisfied with your life? (legit question)

I can relate: In my experience, sometimes your work is light enough that you can still get home at 5pm and have hobbies, consulting gigs where you do what you really love to do (even though that does not give you much money) and et cetera.... and that would make you satisfied with your life, besides.

It's all a matter of balance, sometimes you work in a genuinely nice place but you have shitty working hours and/or wage, you can't properly study and update yourself, no energy to workout or take care of your body or do 'useless' stuff that keep you sane (any hobby will do, rc cars, music, woodworking)... so some people find (for example) a good paying and simple/undemanding job with great hours, so they get home and can still attend uni, workout, have proper hobbies etc.

Source: worked at a place where i felt accomplished and technically challenged all day long but I had no free time, was fat as fuck, had no time for the wife etc... am now at a much lighter dayjob, managed to find time to finish uni, lost weight, have hobbies etc...

It's easier to argue money doesn't matter when you're not making a sh*t ton. If you have a family to support and are making a crap ton of money it's more difficult to walk away from. But yeah, it's definitely not worth dying inside for.

Completely agree with this point.

As one of my cow-orker says, "money doesn't give happiness, in the same way as cows don't give cheese".

It's easier to yearn for personal satisfaction when you have all your necessities (and those of your family) secured. Changing jobs to a less-paid one is difficult, because the gains can be quickly offset by the loss of financial stability, and let me tell you, if you don't have money for your (and your family's) basic needs, then you can be really unhappy.

Some things to consider: -Options that aren't better (especially for non-developer role) or not entirely sure what area of tech you want to work for besides Google, Amazon but can't get in. -Work that you may like to do if you were in a better more supportive team. -It might not even be tons of money, but enough to pay bills and save a bit, and better paying then many other industries -Not ready to start all over again especially if you had a new job every 2 years (sometimes with the same company but still, the context switching is too much now) -Visa, not easy to move from company to company

But yes it does suck to question oneself all the time on whether to switch it up or not

...This question seams strange to me - I did some contracting work for a while (not AMAZING rates but around the $110-$150/hr range ...working 12-14hr days) ...this translates to a nice $$$ pay day - but unless your really tied to material things - it doesn't really fulfill anything - ...I'm back to working a 9-5 ...and MUCH happier, if i was a single - douchebag type dev then... ya BIG $$$ money is important to them - they love to pose next to thier tesla or porsche ...

A life of constant hedonism isn't sustainable. Nothing wrong with sacrificing a few years to set yourself up for the next few decades.

Genuinely curious: why not implement the fixes you mentioned yourself? Would that count as "stepping on toes" and anger dev teams?

The dev team is very territorial about their code. They're virtually in a separate business unit - I don't even have read access to the source code.

To make things worse, the dev lead's boss always defers to his team's knowledge about the issues, so getting certain security issues fixed can require getting upper management involved.

The way I see it, as long as you do your job to notify them of security problems with their code, then the ball is in their court and it's out of your hands. If they choose to ignore it, and it ends up being a disaster, it's their fault as long as you can show you did your job in notifying them properly.

Enjoy dat paycheck. You're earning it.

In my above original edit, I was going to put "Security" in quotes too, sometimes .. sometimes this aint worth it.

Not security either, did not realize how much I can relate to 10:45 and 13:00.

Profession: Farmer (growing wine and winemaker) - about 20 - 30 hrs week, owner, single employee

(For the rest of my time I write software as a single contributor/freelancer)

[6:30] Wake up, light breakfast

[7:30 - 10:00] commute to the village where is my farm, there is no need to rush. I take tram to train station, get some coffee, read emails on train commute, then switch to bus, read some book, then 4 km walking to final destination. When I am in hurry (say 1 or 2 times a month), I just drive by car, then the commute takes about 45 minutes.

[10:00 - 15:00] change to my working clothes, walk 4km to the vineyard, stop at small grocery store on my way to buy some food for a day and maybe beer. Start doing work that needs to be done, listen to podcast or music during the day or just think about stuff and listen to nature.

[15:30 - 17:00] commute back home, some coffee, reading books on bus and train.

[17:00 - 22:00] home with family, playing with kid, maybe some light programming, go sleep.

Idyllic. I love the unhurried cadence of this day.

Nature of this work is very seasonal, so harvest month is anything but calm and unhurried. Those field days I described are my favorite, but there are many other type of days in life of farmer.

Sounds awesome! How'd you fall into this lifestyle? Did you use capital from a previous career in Software to purchase the farm, or Family/Relative related?

I was born into wine making family (with history going back few centuries). The land I am farming on was purchased by myself, using money from my software development days, and it is separate entity with very different approach to rest of my family. They like to play it safe, I am trying to farm organically, I am focusing more on premium side, they are more into bulk wine and so forth.

It is tough business, the investment required is huge and you should expect that your money will be returned in decades (if ever). I didn't have huge pile of money, so the winery is build in very tiny steps and it will take a lot of time to actually make it work, but I feel like this is something I should do and writing software on side will keep me safe financially.

This looks like the literal definition of heaven.

I envy you for this lifestyle.

Profession: Web Developer, self employed working remote with startups and creative agencies.


- [08:00] Wake up in a daze and make my wife and son tea and breakfast

- [08:30] Shower, get dressed and ready

- [09:15] After prepping water canister and tea caddy, head to garden office.

- [09:30] Procrastinate

- [14:00] Realise the work day is nearly over. Panic. Cram work in.

- [17:00] Finish work, make son dinner and play with him.

- [19:00] Put son to bed and start making wife and I dinner.

- [20:30] Watch Parks and Recreation whilst contemplating an entire career change.

"Yes this sounds about right for a web developer." said another web developer.

3h of actual work sounds good

I know right! My clients would beg to differ !

You contemplate, every day about a career change? I mean whining about what you could be doing is awesome. Doing it every day at the same time kinda ruins it :)

You are a good father.

whilst contemplating an entire career change

To anything in particular?

Haven't a clue, I don't like working with clients anymore, and running a SaaS is out of the question since everyone wants to do it and it's not as dreamy as it sounds. I'll figure something out for sure.

Probably something outdoors since he's watching 'parcs and rec' lol

@[20:30] I know the feeling. Been there friend.

So uh...what does your wife do?

She looks after my son all day, ensures we have groceries, makes sure all the clothes are washed and ironed, cleans the house, takes him to play school, makes sure he has clothes that fit him, organises birthday presents and cards and gifts, is endlessly patient to name a few. She has a harder job than I do.

Why do clothes need to be ironed? Who still wears stuff made of linen?

I am seeing a lot of depressing posts here (and mostly in humor, I think)

Lots of talk about sleeping in, procrastinating, pretending to work, etc. etc.

I used to be a Software Engineer and I can relate extremely well. Now I am attempting to be a travel writer and photographer, driving around Africa. I spring out of bed in the morning, and have some of the best days of my life, day after day. It's hard, but I love it much more than my previous live. The money is not so good, but what do I need money for anyway? Gas in the tank and food for dinner and I am happy camper (literally)

My advice: We each only have one life, make sure you live the one you want to. Save some money, quit for a while and try your dream. If it doesn't work out you can always go back (I did, twice already, just to earn fast cash then hit the road again. I am hoping this time there is no going back - it's going OK so far)

Thanks for this. I'm a web developer, recent college grad. I freelance and travel a lot. It's cool, but I hate the work for the most part. I do lots of tiny UI tweaks and stuff every day. It's slowly killing me inside I think.

The upside is I work from 'hpme' and can sleep in and have lots of freedom and stuff, but when it comes to work... It's destroying me.

I have been living in Costa Rica for the past year and I'm incredibly jealous of some of the locals here. Some of the locals running surf shops or tour companies or ______ are living their dream. Less stress than me, 10x happier. It's incredible.

The grass is always greener. You're (theoretically) making more money than them and most likely have a more flexible schedule. They're also tied to location. You can get bored of Costa Rica and move tomorrow if you want.

There's nothing to be jealous of. You can start a surf shop if you think they have it better than you.

That doesn't seem quite right to me. You might be making more money in USD, but their cost of living is likely far lower. The cost of real estate and rent in major American metro areas is insane these days, and that's where all those high-paying software jobs are located. Even in many of the not-so-major areas, the rents have gotten really high. So sure, you might be making a lot, but it's all going to some landlord, or getting tied up in a house that could very well lose much of its value if the market crashes again like it did in 2008.

For sure! I totally agree with that.

I love my current position in life because of that flexibility and freedom, just the work is so-so :)

> Some of the locals are living their dream. Less stress than me, 10x happier. It's incredible.

I see this every day in West Africa. People spend huge time with their families, people build their own houses, and grow their own food. Sure, it can be hard manual labor, but certainly virtually everyone has money for a bottle of beer (or 10) every day.

We have a lot to learn from the "undeveloped world"

Seriously, been reading your blog this afternoon and love it man. Maybe I'll stop by in Africa next year! Hah.

I 100% agree.

Maybe I just wasn't built for the tech field, but something about sitting on the computer all day feels wrong.

this is EXACTLY my goal here ....pushing myself into getting started... we CAN live comfortably without the gut wrenching feeling everyday ...for me it started with the garbage warrior... a house that provides all your energy, food, water, waste treatment... combine some of these excellent ideas with automation and ...your house takes care of you - only problem is - everyone doesn't have their own little chunk of dirt to build on...

Wow, never seen/heard of that movie. Really cool!!

Just open a surf shop or a tour company since you like it. Automate shit out of it and hire locals, you are your own engineer.

I don’t see why not. Diversifying is always a good idea. Web-dev is a good source of income to fund these endeavors. You have all the cards up your sleeve IMO.

That's what I've been considering for sure. I'll (hopefully) always have web dev as a fallback to make some extra cash on the side if something falls through.


  The fascination of what's difficult 
  Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent 
  Spontaneous joy and natural content 
  Out of my heart. There's something ails our colt 
  That must, as if it had not holy blood 
  Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud, 
  Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt 
  As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays 
  That have to be set up in fifty ways, 
  On the day's war with every knave and dolt, 
  Theatre business, management of men. 
  I swear before the dawn comes round again 
  I'll find the stable and pull out the bolt. 
-- W.B. Yeats

Can you comment on how easy it is to "go back"? I've always heard it's difficult to find employment as a developer once you have a gap in your resume.

I found it immensely easy. We developers are in short supply, so it's an employees market.

Don't hide it on your resume, be proud of it "I learned Spanish, I learned self-reliance, I had this and that side project, etc. etc."

I always say one of my greatest skills is my ability to self-educate (proven by learning Spanish, and now French) so you say to them "Sure, I'm a little rusty on x,y,z. Less than 2 weeks I guarantee I'll be up to speed."

So I don't have the salary of someone that stayed through (i.e. a buddy from university is now a Senior VP, and I was still low-level developer) but who cares - I made this choice because I prioritize life, not money/work. My buddy also works WAAAY longer hours than I did, and had a boat-load of stress to boot. As a lowly developer, I get good money, and walk out free and clear at 5:30. I didn't even have to be on call, because I was "junior". Perfect!

How did you start the process of switching and becoming a travel writer? The idea of such a big leap seems impossible to me.

I blogged my first adventure (Alaska to Argentina) [1] and about half way through starting pitching to magazines, websites, newspapers, etc.

Pitch, pitch, pitch and make great content - you will get there

[1] http://theroadchoseme.com/expedition-overview

I just finished reading the book "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel", which basically promotes this exact train of thought. You may enjoy reading it if you are not already familiar.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. - Mae West

Profession: meat robot at an Amazon fulfillment center.

[4:00am] wake up

[4:30am] coffee, morning workout, maybe code

[5:30am] shower

[6:00am] breakfast

[6:30am] drive to work

[6:55am] clock in, mandatory stand-up, bullshit, pretend OSHA stretches. Everybody claps out.

[7:00am] push juice carts full of merchandise from point a to point b, push empty juice carts from point b to point a

[10:15am] break, definitely not surfing HN on a work computer

[10:45am] push juice carts full of merchandise from point a to point b, push empty juice carts from point b to point a

[2:15pm] break, definitely not surfing HN on a work computer, also definitely not complaining about processes or the UI of the internal software on the public whiteboard.

[2:45pm] push juice carts full of merchandise from point a to point b, push empty juice carts from point b to point a

[5:30pm] clock out, drive home, maybe code

Alternately, instead of pushing juice carts, I can remove items from bins, count them and put them back, remove items from bins, count them (a different way this time) and put them back, or remove items from juice carts provided by other people doing what I do now, and put them into bins to be counted.

Robots bring the bins, but that's not nearly as fun as it sounds, because it means you have to stay in one spot for the entire shift while the work comes to you, because algorithms. The little orange fuckers[0] are worth more than my car and I'm pretty sure that if someone set the facility on fire, the Kiva pods would be rescued well before me.

This is not a technical job, and not one Hacker News would be at all interested in reading about from my position, but for the time being it's the only job I have.


I'm sorry to say this, but this is literally one of the funniest things I've ever heard

Commercial programmer, full-time, some remote, some office. No alarm clock, watch, or cell phone. I don't know what time it is except for outlook meeting reminders or SO telling me it's time for dinner, Jeopardy, or Penguins or Steelers game. Same routine for years:

  - Cats wake me up when it's light. I feed them.
  - Bike ride on trails, 5 to 13 miles.
  - Shower
  - fresh fruit, coffee, salad, grazing off & on all day
  - check & resolve all personal email
  - check & resolve all work email
  - check headlines
  - check work queue (Visual Studio)
  - review last night's notes
  - spend most of the day in IDE, writing code, unit testing
  - take a break every hour or 2 for email, VSO, snack, Hacker News, twitter, lichess
  - attend meetings when outlook reminds me
  - dinner with SO, reminded with, "Two minute warning!"
  - check & resolve all email (I end every day at email zero.)
  - Jeopardy with SO
  - no more computer
  - print source code, review, & mark up in red
  - write down tomorrow's To Do List
  - read other stuff
  - lights out

> print source code, review, & mark up in red

Can you expand on this one?

What code are you printing? Other developer's code for code review? And to be clear, you mean a printer right? That paper comes out of?

Also: I like that you only check email twice. I should look into that.

Maybe the most effective practice I've ever had. Check out #49 here: http://v25media.s3.amazonaws.com/edw519_mod.pdf

Cheers for the link!

> ©2011.

Update in 2021?

Taco Bell Manager in a mall food court [0800] - Wake up, shower, eat breakfast. [0830] - Ride my bike to work since I lived close to the mall. [0850] - Unlock the store, turn on lights, turn on re-thermalizer, groan about how crappy the night shift cleaned. [0915] - Wonder why I still work at Taco Bell. Drop the previous days's, along with fresh, beef/chicken/steak in the re-thermalizer to be ready to serve at 1000. [0920] - Run through the food/supplies to make sure we have enough for the day. [0930] - Another crew member shows up (usually someone I like since I make the schedules), I delegate work for them to do. [0935] - Prepare the cash drawers and do the morning count of the safe. [9050] - Stare at the wall of my office wondering why I still work at Taco Bell. [1000] - Open up the store and feed whomever eats Taco Bell for breakfast... [1130] - Swap out food line (replace stuff that will be 'unservable' in about an hour). A couple more crewmembers show up for lunch rush. [1200] - LUNCH RUSH/Deal with really crappy customers which make me wonder why I still work at Taco Bell. [1500] - Lunch Rush ends. Another manager shows up, and we do the change of shift stuff. [1600] - I finally get to take a break. [1700] - Clock out. Find out my bike is stolen. Walk home. [1800] - Eat some food, play video games. [0000] - Go to bed.

I'm no longer a Taco Bell manager. Now I am a software dev like many of you. I just thought I'd share since there was a lack of fast food in this post.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your journey from fast food to software development.

Grats on the life change!

At the time I programmed as a hobbyist to try and better myself--I wasn't always just playing video games after work. Eventually I got an office job as a temp doing data entry. I came to dislike my single task I was given, so I did what any lazy programmer would do and automated it. Eventually I was found sleeping at my desk while the program was running, and was reported to the boss. When I went to the boss's office to be reprimanded he instead referred me to the head of IT who then offered me a job as a programmer. That was about 5 years ago.

I made an account to post this. I come to HN often because I find it interesting and I thought I'd contribute, in amongst the software engineers:

Teacher (UK):

6:30 get up, eat, take child to nursery

8:15 arrive, plan lessons, mark work

9:20 teach

12:40 working lunch (meetings, helping students with work)

13:40 teach

15:40 plan lessons, mark, or attend meetings

16:30 gym

17:30 collect child from nursery and generally feed and entertain

20:00 feed self

20:30 planning lessons, marking

22:00 bed

Profession: Teacher (primary school)

0500: Alarm goes off. Read the news for 5-10 minutes.

0510: Out of bed, making coffee.

0515: At my desk, coding one of my side projects or learning something new.

0630: Stop working, make breakfast for my wife, have breakfast with her.

0710: Shower, dress.

0725: Leave for work.

0755: Kids are in the classroom. Pandemonium for the next 6.5 hours. Each day I have two breaks (15 min in the morning and 35-ish minutes for lunch). If it's one of my two weekly plan days, I get another 90 minutes for planning/sitting in meetings.

1425: Dismissal, walk kids to the bus, watch everyone leave/get picked up. Head back to the classroom to cobble together the next day's materials.

1530: Out the door.

I'm applying for software developer positions - as much as I love teaching, I'm glad this will be my last year in the classroom.

Profession: CIO - Full time at company of roughly 3400 employees

  - [6:45 AM] - Wake up, take out dog
  - [7:45 AM] - Place kids in the car, off to car pool
  - [8:25 AM] - Arrive at work
  - [8:30 - 9:30 AM] - Catch up on email and news
  - [9:30 - 11:45 AM] - Work on whatever 
  - [11:45 - 12:45 PM] - Head to gym and get workout in
  - [12:45 PM - 5:45 PM] - Work on whatever
  - [5:45 PM - 7:45 PM] - Head home, spend time with family
  - [7:45 PM - 11:30 PM] - Work on either full time or personal projects on laptop while on the couch with the wife
  - [11:30 PM - 1:30 AM] - Work on personal projects
  - [1:30 AM] - Bed
Working on whatever during the day can include: attending meetings, checking in with the team, helping out on servers, writing code, architecting solutions, <insert whatever here>. Because I still write code and devops/admin, etc, I wouldn't consider myself a typical CIO...and I very much prefer it that way. I know and understand our entire stack, and I find this simple fact crucial to effectively driving innovation.

I couldn't operate at a high level with that amount of sleep. You must be one of those rare people who don't need 7+ hours of sleep to function.

I generally don't. I'm lucky to get seven hours of sleep...most of the time it's six or less. If I only get 4-ish, I can feel it, but anything over 5 leaves me feeling normal...or what is normal to me.

Wow, less than 6 hours of sleep. Is that sustainable?

I'm in my mid-forties now, and I've been doing it since my mid-twenties, so it is for awhile. I doubt I'll still be doing it in my mid-fifties ;-)

Parent with two young kids here.

I find it's quality over quantity. A sound 4-5 hours is far preferable to a broken 7-8 hours.

It depends on your genome

It does, but at least for me, the ritual requires a bit more work than that. My whole family is good with less than 8 hours of sleep and interestingly, growing up it was seen as a symptom of a problem if we slept for 8 or more hours. I am usually good with 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, but in order to maintain that, I must ensure that I don't oversleep on the weekends, or my whatever thing gets out of whack and my body wants to oversleep on other days. I've also got to maintain my exercise regime, because for some reason, when I work out, I feel good and totally refreshed after 5-6 hours of sleep. But if I haven't worked out for a few days, or I overslept on the weekend, it takes me a week and some exercise to get back into feeling refreshed after only 5-6 hours of sleep.

5 or 6er here. Sleeping 12-14 on the weekends helps.


Source: I sleep less than 6 hours most nights.

Full stack web developer in .NET.

5:25AM : Alarm goes off.

5:26AM : Make tea in microwave.

5:30AM : Study period where I learn new tech.

6:30AM : Make a double espresso.

6:35AM : Catch up on the tech news. Sometimes I play a short video game.

6:50AM : Personal hygiene.

7:05AM : Fresh eggs (from our chickens) over-easy on toast/bagel/English muffin.

7:20AM : My commute. Often in the summer it's 30 minutes and by bike.

7:30AM : Read email, handle any requests. Check our internal task system for what I should be working on.

7:45AM : Greet the incoming devs (I'm almost always in first) and catch up a bit. Start firing up the tools and find my place from yesterday: Visual Studio, SSMS, Notepad++, Beyond Compare, Firefox, Chrome, Outlook, Slack, Lync (yes, both, one for devs, one for management), VLC (for headphone time), Nomad

8:00AM : Go DnD. Check email at 1/2 past the hour. Check task system to see if priorities have changed.

12:00PM : Lunch! 45 minute walk, or play Magic the Gathering.

1:00PM : Go DnD. Check email at 1/2 past the hour. Check task system to see if priorities have changed.

4:30PM: Check my personal email (list for the store?), then I'm outta here!

There are random meetings from time to time, but maybe only one or two a week.

Honestly, I can't imagine it much better.

Tea... from the microwave...

Use a kettle, your life will be renewed. Your days more meaningful and your relationships happier.

Can't pass up a recommendation like that. Out comes the kettle.

Good man

Purely curious: what's your sleep (quality, schedule) like?

I've recently begun waking up at 5:45am and have had a tough time adjusting. I find myself ready for bed at ~8pm more often than not.

Not op but I started waking up at 6:00 starting with this year to work on personal projects in the morning for up to an hour. My sleep quality got much better, I'm usually in bed around 23:00, the biggest difference I noticed is that I'm falling asleep in less than 10 minutes after I lie down.

As a side note: I noticed that having proper supply of Magnesium seems to help me a lot to wake up in the mornings.

I've had horrible sleep my entire life, teens to adulthood. Started taking magnesium citrate supplements at night, using earplugs, and keeping a 100% hard wake-up time at 6:15 am. It's changed things drastically for me - I don't have to have a solid "bed time", I just go to bed when tired (usually 11pm). I fall asleep in 15 minutes compared to an hour. As long as I stick to waking up at 6:15am, I'm golden.

Learned this by doing CBT-I, where the therapist would start me off by forcing me to get 4 - 5 hours or less of sleep, and record how long it took me to fall asleep. Then I'd gradually go to bed earlier and earlier until I hit an 'optimal' point.

Reading the comments I have to consider myself very lucky in a way. I work full-remote.

- I never use an alarm, normally waking up around 8:30am

- I often start coding right away when I wake up, in these first 2 hours I am often exceptionally productive

- eat something, coffee, reading, relaxing

- do some more coding till I feel my focus drops

- repeat the last two steps

When I feel tired I try not to code if possible, I consider it being a bad habit.

Relaxing between the focussed coding sessions is of major importance to produce good code IMHO, while relaxing I'm often thinking about the different options of how I can best write the next piece of code.

If I have a bad day, not being really productive, I often do some more coding at night if I can get the right focus.

On a good day I outperform 2 coders that work in the open office of our company, with ease.

Full-remote here - same workflow, same results too :)

I'm considering to switch to working 10 billable hours each day on Tue-Thu, though. I'm usually too exhausted after a working day to socialise, but not too tired to work. A 30h work-week with four days of weekend sounds pretty tempting.

I suspect you might outperform 3 coders. Going into an office is a distraction and waste.

Well written and is similar to how I code. I wish I could return remote.

Same here, except that I need the alarm. Also exercise after work.

Profession/Position: Senior Software Developer (.NET stack), onsite, 20 development/150 non-development employees in office, < 10,000 employees for entire company

-[05:30] Alarm goes off, check phone/read something till I fully wake up

-[05:45] Get out of bed, pull blankets off wife to wake her up

-[06:00] Make omelette, pour coffee programmed to brew at 5:45

-[06:30] Eat breakfast, read Bible

-[07:00] Begin commute

-[07:10] Drop wife off at her office

-[07:15] Arrive at my office

-[07:30] Read email, get more coffee

-[07:45] Start up Brain.fm and begin most productive part of work day

-[09:00] Everyone is now in the office, productivity wanes as meetings are scheduled

-[11:30] Lunch time, go to onsite gym or go for run outside

-[12:30] Shower/cleanup and back to my desk

-[13:00] Standup conference call

-[13:10] Back to work, code reviews, meetings, etc.

-[16:00] Productivity dwindling

-[16:30] Read HN/industry news, leave the office

-[16:45] Pick up wife from her office

-[16:50] Arrive at home

2nd year Surgical resident, part of my education to be an orthopedic surgeon. Currently working in a town 100km away.

05:45 wake up, quick breakfast and cycle to the train station 06:20 train. Grab the laptop, prepare for procedures or work on research 07:45 handover or 08:00 start of first procedure. Do timeout, grab a coffee while the anesthesist does his job 12:00 when lucky time for lunch behind the PC, administration 16:30 usually last procedure, handoff when on wards or clinic duty 17:00 see patients of the day, check for question from the new shift of nurses 18:00 train home. Do some coding for a company my friends and me run 19:15-19:30 home

Excerise, work on scientific papers or meet with the team at the office. Work on some points in the job queue. Sleep at 23:00.

Just a few more months and I'll change to a job closer by

- [05:30-06:00] breakfast

- [06:00-07:30] random.choice([bike riding, work on side projects, hiking, reading/studying])

- [08:00-11:30] solid coding hours

- [12:00-13:00] lunch

- [13:00-17:00] try to get work done, but because people have a tendency to interrupt me every 5 minutes, work never actually gets done during these hours < http://www.freelancing.ph/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Program... >

- [17:00-18:30] squeeze in some more coding time, maybe

- [19:00-20:30] dinner

- [21:00-23:00] random.choice([piano practice, work on side projects, reading/studying, night hiking, house chores/laundry/maintainence, additional work time if necessary])

Profession: Software Engineer (Web) at a large enterprise software company (~12k employees)


- [6:30 am] Wake up and get the kids ready (I try and let my wife sleep-in since she has likely been up several times during the night tending to our infant son)

- [8:00-8:15] Get to work, check Email/Slack

- Write Code

- Mid-morning stand-up

- Write Code

- Home for lunch (I'm a 12 min drive from home)

- [1:00 pm] Write Code

- [5:15 pm] Home to run around with my insane 3 y/o

- [8:00 pm] Both kids are in bed

- [8:05 pm] Go for a jog

- [9:00 pm] Either work on side projects or read a book

This is pretty much every day. The software I work on is not exactly inspiring stuff but my company grants me a stable and predictable schedule of which I am thankful for.

Profession: Electronics Technician on an ultra-deep water drill ship.

Full Time- Rotational 28 Days On - 28 Days Off

[0430] Alarm goes off.

[0500] Call wife before work.

[0530] Morning meeting with all departments to find out plan for the day. Try to pay attention to what others may need help with or where there might be a window of opportunity to work on certain equipment.

[0540] Grab breakfast.

[0600] Meet with night guys to find out what happened during the night and what might need to be continued to work on during the day.

[0620-0640ish] Drink coffee, have departmental meeting to determine what supervisor learned in supervisors meeting. Discuss any issues that may have come up.

[0600-1800] Do maintenance, troubleshoot equipment, install capital projects, research on equipment and projects, check email, do training, fill out paperwork. Eat lunch sometime between 1100 and 1300.

[1800-1820] Discuss day with on-coming crew. Tell them what happened during the day and any issues that need to be dealt with.

[1820ish-0430] Eat dinner, call wife, read, watch movie maybe, practice programming, sleep.

Sundays - Fire drill either during the day or at night.

Tuesdays - Weekly safety meetings after work, discuss any safety issues that have occurred in the fleet or particularly bad ones in the industry. Regulatory safety training on lifesaving equipment.

Repeat for 28 days.

{edit- Trying to get formatting right.}


Profession: WFH software developer - between half and full time @ small distributed company

Workday (kind of):

- [between H = 6am and 3pm] wake up

- [H - H+1] either manage to force myself to code, or get annoyed with not being able to communicate with anyone else, because everyone is in a different time-zone, and/or on a different schedule

- [H+1 - H+2] depending on the above, continue work, or do some random errands/waste time because "I can do the work later"

- [H+2 - H+3] depending on work/errands, continue whatever, or decide it's time for a break again because "I can do everything later, since I don't have regular working hours"

- ...

- [H+7 - H+8] usually something like one of the following: (1) get depressed by the low number of working hours done this day/week/month, (2) contemplate whether I will manage to get back into some daily routine, or (3) get depressed or excited by the possibility of the routine, or (4) depressed by lack of social interactions while WFH.

- ["after work"] trying to decide what to do with the rest of my time, i.e. "maybe work more, to make up for the low number of hours" or "maybe do something else, to rest before the next day" - it's a rather heavily anxiety-inducing decision making process.

</rant> :)

Sorry, this post really made me want to vent. But seriously, it is like ~60% coding, ~30% talking to other remote people or reviewing their code, ~10% other work'ish stuff like deployments to various environments, planning, etc. And I realize the hours and everything could be better, given some better organization and discipline, but anyway I'm going to switch to an office based job, which should Solve All My Problems. Yeah, I'm kidding obviously. :)

I want to thank you for posting this. It's a bit inspiring to see how everyone else works, especially what time everyone gets up. My girlfriend has been trying really hard to get me to wake up early every day, and I've been slowly able to do that, but I'm not quite there consistently yet. Seeing all you guys post your stuff is like going to the gym with workout partners that motivate me instead of getting on a boring treadmill by myself. This is great. I also realized that I have not enough of a set pattern for my days.

Absolutely, we could all use a bit more focus on health in our life. I'm the same way; the extent of my exercise is taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and my girlfriend dragging me to a running trail on the weekend.

Profession: Music Tech Developer - Freelance, Remote

  6:30am : Wake up, sit (meditate > 10min)
  7:00am : Make tea/coffee and breakfast for my wife, eat together, she leaves
  7:30am : Quick exercises
  8:00am : (Sometimes 9a, 11a, or a combination) Meeting to plan the days priorities with either clients or my associate developers
  9:00am - 12:00pm : Making things (researching, writing code, testing, taking screen shots / recordings, reviewing, committing)
  12:00pm - 1:00pm : Lunch, often watch content on apple tv (youtube video, daily show, etc) 
  1:00-2:30pm : Making things (same as above)
  2:30pm : Walk (<2 miles on path in front of house, audio book or podcast)
  3:00-4:30pm : Making things (same as above)
  4:30-~5:30pm : Deliverables (commits, uploads, emails, calls)
I love working on music tech and just chatting with someone about it gets me stoked to start building stuff. Those morning meetings with clients and my associates really help me focus.

Wrote a little more here: https://medium.com/@gmcerveny/my-daily-routine-for-music-tec...

Most healthy life plan I've seen so far. How did you get there? E.g. what brought you to meditating or taking a walk every afternoon.

Thanks for the note.

About 5 years ago I asked my friend to regularly sit with me. Mainly I just wanted the brain benefits of meditation. We looked up info online but then later visited some meditation centers in town. I happened to like the soto zen style the best and have adopted that practice since.

I work from home and although I'm on the edge of the city, there's not much near me except this awesome 7 mile paved greenway. So I mainly walk just to get out of the house. It's a nice time.

Profession: MSc Student, Dpt. Experimental Medicine

[08:30] Alarm goes off, gussy-up, 2xPB on White Toast

[08:45] Arrive at subway, turn on my podcast queue

[09:15] Walk into work, give a quick check on human and bacteria cultures

[09:20] Pause podcasts, plan day out at desk

[09:30] Resume podcasts, throw on lab coat, gloves, begin work at bench

[09:45] Realise that todays plan overlooked some important fact and now makes zero sense

[09:50] Pause podcasts, avail self of PPE, attempt to plan day out again, dick around for a couple of minutes on HackerNews

[10:00] Resume podcasts, Throw on lab coat, gloves, begin work at bench/BSL cabinet once more

[13:30] Lunch w/ colleagues or YouTube for ~1hr, if I remember to have it

[15:00] Realise that I've planned too much, contemplate leaving early while browsing HackerNews

[15:30] One last experiment that will "take 1.5 hours, tops"

[19:00] Finish "1.5" hour experiment 3.5 hours later.

[19:15] Gawk at people in the subway

[19:30] Arrive home, supper

[20:00] Send out emails I should have sent out last week, possibly work on presentations that I need to give

[20:30] Hack on some side project while netflix/youtube plays in the background

[22:00] Hit roadblock, lay prone on bed contemplating employment options

[22:30] Back to side projects

[24:00] Code quality gets progressively worse, sudden realisation that almost every YouTube channel is cancerous in it's own special way. Make way to bed

Profession: Mechanical Engineer - Full Time (large well known consumer product brand)


-[8:00] Meeting, once a week with Italy (tool supplier), 2 days a week with US manufacturing (on site)

-[9:00-11:30] Catch up on emails, review 3D CAD for projects, individual casual meetings with designers, marketing, CAD etc

[11:30-1:00] Lunch with coworkers, usually go to local climbing gym or go for a hike

[1:00-5:00] Same as morning routine, sometimes have to help manufacturing team with production issues, usually schedule larger meetings to kickoff new projects

[5:00] Touch point call with Chinese counterparts for new projects

[6:00] Go home.. exchange email/wechat with China for a while

Profession: Full-Stack Web Developer - Full Time, remote <Just me and the founder>


    - [7:30AM] Wake up

    - [7:45AM] Get dressed

    - [8:00AM] Take a quick walk to the gas station for energy drink.

    - [8:15AM] Start reading my emails and conversating on Hacker News, Nim lang forum, reddit.

    - [9:00AM] Eat some breakfast.

    - [10:00AM] Start actual work.

    - [11:00AM (M, W, F)] Phone call with the founder to discuss progress.

    - [11:30AM] Start daily workout: Gymnastics/calisthenics(M, W, F), cardio (T, TH)

    - [12:30PM] Take Shower and eat lunch

    - [1:00PM] Get back to work. Mostly React and Django stuff at the moment.

    - [6:00PM] Finish work for the day,

    - [6:15PM] Start working on side projects, tutorials, learning, practicing etc. Sometimes I study math or Japanese.

    - [9:00PM] Play some overwatch, blackwake, beamNG, Persona, whatever. Sometimes spend time with the GF watching TV.

    - [12:00AM] Let a podcast lull me to sleep.

Profession/position: Software engineer (web) - CTO < 10 employees and father


- [6:30] Wake up and get ready

- Check my emails and schedule for anything urgent and deal with them if there is

- [7:30] Get my daughter ready for daycare

- [8:00] Drive her to daycare

- [8:30] Return to my home office

- Usually spend 15 minutes hunting HN and RSS for things that might be relevant to my business. I skim titles mostly using keyboard shortcuts in Feedly... it goes quick

- [9:00] Make sure everyone on the team has clear objectives and is not blocked

- [9:30] Create a checklist of the top 3 things I want to get done today and 2 nice to haves (sometimes it is business, sometimes it is HR, usually it is code or ops)

- Deal with the tier 2 priority emails

- Proceed to knock things off that checklist

- [12:00] Lunch

- Hacker news and RSS

- More checklist items

- Usually no more than a half hour of meetings a day

- [4:45] Daily scrum with the team. No more than 15 minutes

- More checklist items

- [6:00] Wife comes home with our daughter

- [7:00] Cook / eat dinner (my wife watches our child, I do the cooking)

- [8:00] Play with my daughter for a bit and read her some stories (she's a year and a half)

- Handle tier 3 emails if I'm feeling up to it

- [9:30] Wait for my daughter to go to sleep

- Watch a TV show on HBO or Showtime with my wife

- [10:30] Half hour workout

- [11:00] Shower

- [11:30] Bed

- Repeat

A little bit OT, but how much does a CTO pull in at that size company?

Really off topic but I don't mind. Sorry for the delay response. I wasn't checking in on this thread. In general, about the same amount as a senior software engineer at a larger company and significant stock options (1-2% for late stage, 5%+ for early stage, much more for co-founder).

Cool, thanks for being open about it. About what I was expecting.

Profession: SaaS CTO (org sze 6 ppl) & Personal Trainer Location: SF Bay CA USA

My work life balance is not at all there.

Both Off-day (3/week) and Work-Day (4/week) start similarly:

-[630-730] Wake up when my 2.5 y/o son wakes up. Let my ex-wife sleep in cause I'd rather not be around her despite still living together.

-[7-9] Breakfast, Legos, epic Batman vs Spiderman vs Ironman battles with son, skim emails, review server stats, SC2/PUBG, HN-YT

-[9-12] CTO work at home: review code & merge submissions, answer support emails, possibly code or research or learn

"Off" Day:

-[12-130] Personal Trainer Session with client

-[130-3] Ex-wife in graduate school. Dad-life beckons. Return Home, make lunch, got to the park w/ son.

-[3-5] Nappy time

-[5-9] Personal training session & my own gym-time if scheduled or Legos, HN, Reddit, YT and TV if not

-[9-11] Drink a beer, watch any TV that isn't toddler approved, got to bed.

"Work" Day:

-[12-130] Personal Trainer Session with client

-[130-2] Grab Lunch on the way to office

-[2-3] Eat and interface with co-workers

-[3-7] CODE!!!!!!!!

-[7-730] Eat and code

-[730-9] Code, research, learn or play video games on my companies dime.

Profession: Robotics Engineer

[06:00] Wake up, do a short programming session(either learning new things or doing some projects)

[07:00] Eat breakfast, prepare for the day

[08:00] Arrive at work, open up the place

[08:10] Catch up on news in the field

[08:20] Answer emails, project discussions, review pull requests

[08:45] People start slowly showing up

[09:00] Write or test software for robots/sensors/whatever I'm actually doing at a given time

[10:00] Everyone arrived, it's time for meetings, supporting other people etc.

[13:00] Lunch time

[14:00] Chasing mobile robots or flying quadrocopters

[16:20] Going home (unless there is a deadline approaching and I need to stay until 19)

Software Engineer at Big Corp.

10:00 - get to work, check email, coffee

11:00 - standup: please the clueless Scrum Master by reciting the amazing work I did yesterday, which he has no clue about whatsoever. Usually finish with a "good job" praise

11:15 - peruse various newspapers

12:00 - check Linkedin, credit card accounts, Reddit/HN

13:00 - have a salad and coffee

13:30 - random crap: failing builds, random requests from people, pointless meetings. Sometimes interviewing people in this slot

15:00 - coffee

15:15 - more pointless meetings and random crap

16:00 - code review other people

17:00 - check the news/Linkedin/Reddit/HN again

18:00 - practice on leetcode (not looking for a job, just do it for fun)

19:00 - actually do some coding for the day

20:00 - call it a day, home.

The amazing thing is I still got more work done than most people, mostly because the code I write actually works and takes little time to be reviewed by others. Some people seem to be working all day but spend most of the time fixing their own/other people's crap.

CEO - Full time, 6 (soon to be 8) people (Startup Internet Service Provider)

Workday (highly variable)

- [7:00] Wake up, read Reddit / HN, check email (I'm trying to change this habit, it takes too long

- [8:15] Go to the office / Starbucks. Respond to emails, check my task list, hop on chat and make sure people have activities for the day

- [9:00] Try and do some sort of focus work, eg. Read and Sign contracts, write documentation, respond to emails

- [12:30] Costco Hotdog / Solent / Grilled chicken lunch

- [1:00] Go to Home Depot and pick up something we need

- [1:30] Physical construction. Install customers, troubleshoot networking issues, drill walls, dig holes

- [6:00] Try to remember to eat

- [7:00] Do some sysadmin things

- [8:00] Go to Lewis and Clark Brewery and discuss plans with co-founder

- [10:30] Head home

- [11:00] Read phone, brush and floss, sleep

Profession: Web developer, self employed building own product / consultation.


- 7:15AM: Alarm goes off. Shut it off, go back to sleep.

- 7:20AM: Ask wife and kids to keep it down, still sleeping.

- 8:00AM: Wife and kids left to school / work, can finally get alittle more sleep / pupper doggo jumps into bed and cuddes.

- 8:30AM-9AM: Wake up realize the time, and jump out of bed and get dressed.

- 9AM: take pupper doggo outside, then head down stairs to office.

- 9AM-11AM: Slack, IRC, Hacker News, Github Notifications, Email, Reddit review.

- 11AM-1PM: Work on consultation work.

- 1PM-2PM: Lunch.

- 2PM-4PM: Work on consulation work.

- 4PM-5PM: Wind down consultation work and start looking over tasks for my own project.

- 5PM-8PM: Go pick up daughter from daycare, have dinner and family time.

- 8PM-11PM: Work on own product.

- 11PM-12AM: Watch an episode of a show I have DVR'd.

- 12AM-7:15AM: Sleep.

So, As a PHP senior:

[06:15]: First alarm goes off(It's random music as alarm tone) and wake up!

[06:20]: Get out of bed proper myself

[06:45]: Out of the door and always First i decide to change walking way to new street from home, This is very important for me, Not duplicate way like tomorrow!

[07:00]: First BRT and switch to Bus

[07:30]: Arrive office, breakfast bagel at my work and tea

[07:45]: Check my emails, Hacker News and start work ...

[13:00]: Break for 30 min to lunch and rest

[17:00]: Leave office and getting on bus to home(listen music and podcast)

[18:00]: Go to body building club

[19:00]: Arrive home

[19:15]: shower, shave ...

[19:45]: Start chatting on Telegram OR Call with my wife, Because she is far from me for 6 months :(

[20:45]: A bit eat like Nuts ...

[21:00]: Start read randomly a good book like "The Architecture of Happiness / Alain de Botton" until i sleep!

Profession: Software Security Engineer (Work from home)


- [08:00] Wake up in a daze make breakfast

- [08:30] Shower, get dressed and ready

- [09:15] Start work (at home), read email / respond to email.

- [10:30] Prioritize days work.

- [10:40] Research first priority issue, read bz, take notes, read again, familiarize self with new area (almost every time).

- [11:45] Eat lunch

- [12:35] Attempt to write a reproducer for any given sec issue / understand any given issue. Expect 5 - 10 "calls" for bullshit in this timeframe.

- [16:30] Take Dog for a walk.

- [17:30] Resume work, finish daily write up.

- [19:00] Play overwath / Powerlifting training (alternating)

- [19:45] Cook dinner

- [20:30] Wash up.

- [22:00] Check work mail for emergencies in the morning, or surprise meetings.

- [22:10] Shower.

- [23:30] Read /r/netsec news.ycombinator.org check oss- security.

- [24:00] Attempt to sleep.

You only play a half hour of Overwatch a day. I call bullshit.

This is why i'm silver/gold.

Fair. I am almost diamond and play like its a full time job when my girlfriend isn't around.

Profession: "Software Engineer" who doesn't write code.

[0530] Wake up, pee.

[0535] Stagger into kitchen, begin making coffee. Toast bagel. Start eggs.

[0600] Finish breakfast

[0600-0630] Do the Three (3) S's.

[0700] Leave for work

[0720] Arrive at desk. Get another cup of coffee

[0800] Coffee buzz kicks in, read emails, look at agenda for the day.

[0900-1600] A combination of document writing, meetings, and making charts in PPT and Visio. Write absolutely no code (I'm a "software engineer" in title only at my current job).

[1700] Arrive at home, exercise, work on personal projects (actual coding, feel good about self for a while).

[2300-0000] Fall asleep either still working on side project, watching MOOC lectures, or reading bad sci-fi on my kindle.

IT guy

-[6:30] : Wake up

-[7:55] : Arrive at work

-[8:00] : Check email

-[8:05] : Check support forum

-[8:06] : /r/aww+rarepuppers

-[9:00] : Frontpage of reddit

-[10:00]: Youtube vids

-[10:30]: Pause youtube to take support call

-[10:45]: Youtube resumes

-[12:00]: Lunch and nap

-[1:00] : Back to reddit/finish youtube subs

-[4:55] : God damn support call

Haha ... there's always that person that calls right before the end of the business day!

CTO - 6 staff - Kathmandu

6AM - Wake up - read news / email / Facebook

6.30 - Exercise on exercise bike for 1 hour

8.45 - Office - check PRs, slack, Pivotal Tracker

9.45 - Standup meeting

1pm - Lunch

7pm - Dinner

7.30 - Back at office

10pm - Home - movie / reading / sleep

I have no commute; my office is right beside my house. The only meetings we have are remote (slack / skype) which happen every so often. All communication is through slack allowing employees to work from home whenever they need.

Most of my work is working on the product across multiple projects. Code review on PRs and ensuring that the services are working as expected. We're a small team, it's hard to hide / slack off.

Kathmandu in Nepal? They have a tech scene over there too?

Kathmandu does have some tech scene. Its nowhere near to neighbouring indian cities, but considering how small and underdeveloped the country is, i'd say its pretty good.

I've a fiber line to my office. Tech scenes can crop up in incredibly unlikely places... :)

Profession/position: Sysadmin - full time, remote - < 50 employees


    - 7:45am Wake up. Let the dog out. Slowly try to wear off soreness from psoriatic arthritis. Get coffee. Go to office. 
    - 8am Check email, hipchat, reports and alerts that came in that weren't critical enough to SMS me. 
    - 9am Do the needful from jira, that I assigned myself. I'm the only sysadmin/ITops/devops person. Add more tasks to jira. My sprint ends with more story points than it started with. I know, but I like using scrum and sprints even if I'm doing it all wrong. It's just me. I also like to schedule meetings between 9am - 11am.  
    - 11am Keep plugging away at jira tasks, try to stay away from /r/sysadmin which will only add more jira tasks. 
    - 1pmish 3 days/week go for lunch ride on the bike. < 1 hour/15 miles 
    - 3pm Mon/Wed Meet with CTO to go over the needfuls
    - 4pm Start wrapping things up so I don't get stuck with a task that keeps me until 7pm. 
    - 6pmish Eat dinner with kids. Play with kids. Go to the park or a walk with the kids if wife is working out, or we all go. 
    - 8pm Watch too much godamn TV. Office re-runs, shark tank, something mindless to veg out on. I'm trying to switch this habit to an hour of reading non fiction. 
    - 10pm-12am Go to bed. Read crappy pop scifi for an hour before falling asleep. 
I love it. Very easy to get distracted, but I am distracted with work to do. I end up reading about some new vulnerability or 0day and I start checking to see if I need to worry about it. Or a new tech that could be useful. New feature was released in Azure/o365.

Profession: Student + Software dude I'm constantly switching between working and learing from my coworkers & going to university. Work-day (3 months in a row): [06:45] Wake up, shower & get ready for work, drinking a cup of coffee [07:45] Out the door, 30 min to office (by car) [08:15] Arrive at work, checking mails & start getting up2date [09:00] Starting to seriously developing stuff and things [13:00] Lunch! Yes! [13:30] Back to work! Now is the time where some coworkes come to me and to ask some stuff about stuff I did [17:00] Officially finished the day [17:15] Getting out of the office & driving home

Student-day (3 months in a row) [07:00] Wake up and get ready for university + drinking some coffee [08:15] First lesson starts [13:00] Lunch :) [13:30 - 14:00] Lunch ends & next lesson starts [16:45 - 17:30] Getting home [18:30] Dinner-time! [19:00 - 23:30 (or later)] Re-read university stuff, studying, ...

University-Phase is way more stressfull, because we have to finish a semester in 10-12 weeks, instead of 6 months. But I just don't want to miss the work-phase, I love it! Learning so much stuff each day while being a "regular" team member :)

Senior individual sales, full-time, in person, 2000+ person company.

[07:30]: Wake up naturally. Shower, shave, get dressed.

[08:15]: Walk 5-minutes with wife to work for breakfast.

[08:30]: Standup over breakfast with team, very boring.

[09:00]: Start working on new business outreach. Phone meetings and remote demos all morning in succession in large open space full of around 40 desks. I like the energy of the environment. I occasionally book a room if I want some space to work but mostly like the intensity.

[12:00]: Catered company lunch with buddies and/or wife

[12:30]: More work, same as before except more existing deal outreach and internal meetings in afternoon. Mostly go to a breakout space to get things done, peak energy during this time. This part is the most fun generally.

[17:30]: Walk 5 minutes home with wife. Sometimes take the long way.

[18:00]: Start and eat dinner, go for a walk again or to the gym.

[20:00]: Work on side project for 1-2 hours if time allows.

[21:30]: Read nonfiction with wife for an hour or two before bed.

[23:00]: Head to bed and hang out chatting before dozing off.

I do this everyday and would not change a thing with the exception of removing all formal training and most internal meetings and adding kids. Same as when I had a company except the part about nonfiction, side projects and standups was just grinding away instead.

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 heh - and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about 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.

VP Eng at a small fitness startup (< 10 people). I also work as a professional musician.

6:45 - wake up, walk dog, make coffee

7:10 - practice double bass technique for 30 minutes

7:45 - run 5 miles to work, stopping for breakfast + coffee

8:45 - arrive at work. check email, slack, etc.

9:15 - code until lunchtime

12ish - eat lunch (usually homemade)

12:30-3 code

3 - sometimes gym, Code until 6ish

6-7, run home 5 miles, walk dog

7-8:30 - practice double bass technique and sometimes drums

8:30 - dinner with wife

9-10:30 either practice more, or talk or watch a show with wife, or work.

10:30 bed

I have a few meetings throughout the week but definitely not a ton.

iOS Freelancer

I have 2 offices, so 2 schedules. Here is the one for the shared desk in the center of my hometown:

[06:45 - 07:00] Alarm goes off, most of the time have a shower.

[07:00-08:30] Wake up my older son, make him breakfast, prep for kindergarten and take him there (~50 meters). Also ready myself in the meantime. This is very intense because my son often does not really want to go, he'd rather stay at home. But being there he loves it - kids :)

[08:30-09:00] Eat (if not IF'ing), read up on HN and general news

[09:00 or 09:30] Off to the office (8m by bike), catching up on email and more HN/media

[10:00] Start billable work

[12:00-12:45] Lunch with friends in coworking space

[13:00-17:15] Billable work

[17:15] Cycle home

[17:30-19:00] Family time, dinner (Cooked by me, most of times), or, very seldom, billable work (putting out fires).

[19:00-20:30] Force older son to brush teeth and go to bed, then I surf HN or Netflix on the phone while we lay in bed and he listens to an audiobook; or I read or tell a story

[20:30-~22:30] More HN, often TV with fiance, very seldom side projects, sometimes billable work. Lately, playing with toddler daughter, but not as much as I should or wanted to.

Reading what I just wrote, there definitely is room for improvement.

how did you get started as an iOS freelancer ?

Profession: Web developer - full time, remote flexible, team of 3 developers, 1 project manager, 1 designer

[7:00] Alarm goes off

[7:45] Actually wakes up, shaves

[8:00] Jumps in the shower, brushes teeth

[8:15] Gets dressed

[8:25] Drives to 7-11 for a Rockstar Zero and Quest Bar

[8:35 - 8:45] Boards the train

[9:10] Arrives at work

[9:15] Yells at computer with Black Screen Of Death caused by IT department remotely installing security updates, or keychain failing to update to my new password, etc.

[9:30] Actually gets computer in a working state. Dicks around for 20 minutes on Facebook & HN.

[9:40] Morning restroom time

[9:50] Team standup and then I try to actually get into my zone

[10:30] A minor issue happens with one of our services. Someone asks me how a piece of 5+ year old code works and why it's failing. Tracks down bug for a few hours.

[12:30] Lunch time

[1:30] Begins actual work

[3:00] Gets a request to quickly implement something because it "should be simple".

[5:00] Heads home

[5:45] Stops at grocery store to buy a block of cheddar cheese

[6:15] Arrives home, melts the cheese in the microwave, and eats it for dinner

[7:00] Works out for a few hours, often playing Xbox on my treadmill or working on shoulder strength with my total gym

[9:00] Has some Muscle Milk and some brazil nuts

[10:00] Takes a long shower because I don't pay for water

[10:25] Crashes on bed with laptop playing some lecture

> [5:45] Stops at grocery store to buy a block of cheddar cheese

> [6:15] Arrives home, melts the cheese in the microwave, and eats it for dinner

That kind of threw me for a loop. Sounds like you may want to work on your nutrition. Don't get me wrong, I love cheese, but I don't believe it has all the nutrients necessary for a healthy body.

Profession: Program/Analyst & Full-Time Student (40 hrs, ~13 hrs, respectively)

Example of one of my longer days:

[6:15] Alarm Goes Off

[6:16] Second Alarm Goes Off

[6:20] Second rounds of alarms going off, finally get up - hygiene stuff, take 200mg caffeine [3 wk on|1 wk off]/200mg L-Theanine to maintain the schedule throughout the week

[7:00] In the office, checking blogs, HN, Reddit, podcasts, etc.

[7:30] Finish up anything left over from the previous days, check work calendar, update desk calendar with upcoming due dates, tests, etc. for school

[7:45] People arriving in the office, a lot of noise

[8:15] Daily stand-up

[8:30] Focus in on tasks and begin working on them and fixing any bugs a user has pointed out

[9:45] Get ready to go to class, check HN once again

[3:00] Back in the office, might have a meeting, otherwise continue working on projects

[5:00] Almost everyone is out of the office, peace and quiet enues

[5:15] Office is empty - turn on a twitch stream for some background noise, and focus on stories for my project

[7:00] Eat dinner/get dinner at the office

[8:00] Prepare to go home, close out any tasks or bugs that have been fixed in the past couple of hours

[8:30] Get home and browse reddit/HN for a bit

[9:00] Turn on a game or TV show to unwind with, do homework, contemplate outstanding bugs from work

[12:00] Realize how late it is and how 24 hours ago I said I wouldn't stay up this late anymore, go lay in bed for 30 minutes thinking about school and work, eventually drift off

Profession: SysAd- Full time remotr at company of ~800 employees

[7 AM] - Baby wakes up. Wife gets her and begins process of waking me up. Brings me some pre-workout. [7:45 AM] - The combination of unreasonable amounts of caffeine and my wife constantly prodding me finally gets me out of bed. Shower. [8 AM] - Head to the gym. [8:15 AM- 10:15 AM] - Work out. I'm already late. [10:30 AM] - Log in to Lync/Slack. I'm a half hour late, but nobody notices or cares. [11 AM - 2 PM] - Messages start rolling in. The QA environment is borked. Prod is screwy - better have an hour long meeting to discuss the ten minute fix. Someone wants to use me to unlock their account. Random questions. [2 PM] - Realize I've done a lot of bullshit but have accomplished nothing. Attempt to scrape up enough concentration to make a dent in one of my projects. [2:15 PM - 6PM] - Get side tracked and spend the rest of the day on unplanned work. [6 PM - ??? AM] - Relieve my tired wife of her motherly duties for a while. Catch up on TV. Do some programming. Play Zelda.

Profession: Web developer (80-90% remote)

At Home:

[08:00] - Wake Up

[08:00] - Coffee and catch up on emails, news in bed

[09:00] - Walk or Run with the dog

[10:00] - Coding, bug fixing, calls with team

[12:00] - Lunch

[13:00] - Coding etc. interspersed with house/ garden work (depening on work demands)

[18:00] - Prepare dinner for family and Eat

[19:30] - Relax/ work on side projects

[23:00] - Bed

Commuting to the office (2-4 times/ month):

[07:00] - Wake up

[07:30] - travel to work (mix of bus, ferry and subway)

[10:15] - Arrive at work

[10:30] - Mix of meetings, urgent work, pingpong, and sometimes beer

[17:00] - Leave work and reverse the journey home

[21:00] - Arrive home

[23:00] - Bed

Profession/Position: CIO - full time, onsite - <50 employees


[06:40] - Wake up, check a few headlines and get ready for the morning

[07:30] - Head to work, drive if my partner and I are carpooling, catch an Uber otherwise

[08:00] - Arrive at work, greet a few people, complain about someone forgetting to schedule the coffee pot. Check HN, Reddit, and a couple news organizations. Reply to a few important and/or quick to answer emails and Slack messages.

[09:00] - Get my hands dirty in whatever projects we have going at the moment, field emails and calls as they come in.

[13:00] - Working lunch, reply to emails and try to get some HN in.

[13:30] - Meet with CEO or whoever needs me then spend some time with different departments and jump in to help wherever I can be of use.

[15:00] - Start wrapping up for the day, clean around the office and lay out an agenda for the next day.

[16:00] - Head home

[16:30] - Power nap

[17:30] - Figure out where I misplaced my Blue Apron recipes and make dinner.

[18:30] - Usually try to get some work done, otherwise grab a controller and find a game if I'm feeling particularly uninspired.

[20:00] - Grab drinks at the dive with friends or co-workers.

[22:00] - Head to bed, get ready to start it all over again in a few hours.

It's not glamorous, but I've been fortunate to develop a schedule that keeps me productive the entire work day. There's only so much head-down work you can get done in a day, so taking the last few hours to help out in other departments and take some load off them keeps me engaged and always learning something new.

Wow, for a real change: Profession: Materials Processing Technician. (pyroelectric and optics)

working for LCPG (Laser Components Pyro Group) <15 employees in our facility.

07:00 Alarm goes off, set it off for 30 min

07:30 Oh shit, I'm will be late!

08:00 Leave for work

08:30 Check in to work

08:30-09:00 Find out what's going on and what needed to be done.

Ok, no set schedule of the day, but general duties are:

-High vacuum deposition of NiCr and/or Gold on LTO (.025mm thick) or DLATGS

-Cutting Si filters, LTO, DLATGS, Germanium, whatever comes up

-Welding some detectors that were made by assembly

-Making Gold Black coating on our high level detectors

-Screen printing LTO

-Lapping down and further processing of DLATGS (from 1.2mm to .025-.010 mm)

-Maybe bubble testing some RMA detectors

-Scanning Si filter on FTIR machine

-Working some experiments with Engineering guy

12:30-1:30 Clock out for lunch, usually home made alone

1:30-17:00 Continue work

17:00 Clock out

17:30-18:30 Coming home (depends if groceries needed)

Rest of the day spending time with my wife, PC gaming, learning Python.

Actually right now trying to get transferred to FSU for BS in Electrical engineering. After that see two options: Personal start-up research while in college or: Get in Nvidia, Intel, AMD companies. Very interested in processing of Germanium substrates and modern electronics building.

I have no idea what most of this even means :-)

What kind of customers do you tend to work for, and what do they do with what you produce ?

Generally it is oil industry and gas analysis. Like flame detectors or CO2, methane, N2 detectors. All of our devices used there. Some devices include FTIR scanning machines.

https://simtronics.eu/flame-detectors/multiflame-dm-tv6-t#ap... 3 colored circles in the center is our detectors with filter configurations, 3 of them :)

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