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Ask HN: How do you spend your free time in office?
43 points by kamranahmed_se on July 20, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 49 comments

I work as a freelancer from home, so my answer might be less interesting to people at an office, but I've found that at home I'm mostly just doing the things I wanted to do at the office when I worked in one, but felt uncomfortable doing there. These include:

Taking short (15 - 30 mins max) naps if and when I need them, which pretty dramatically helps me creatively problem solve.

Going for a long-ish walk outside. This is by far the absolute best thing I've added to my days. I feel more energized after, I mentally and emotionally am much happier, and physically it made me slightly fitter. Plus it helps relieve some of the problems I know I'm developing sitting all day.

Podcasts. This one I only do when I'm taking a break, I can't focus and get into a flow listening to other people talk about interesting topics. Awesome for those walks though.

Chat with other developers and friends on slack or some other messenger. Usually at some point during the day I'll have a 15 minute flurry of messages with a developer friend about some side project or something we think is cool.

And finally, this one is half work half fun, but I'll research something I think is cool or would be useful. Might be a service, framework, product, methodology, anything at all. I probably spend an hour or so of my work day, every other day, on researching something that's not an absolute necessity to the work, but might benefit it. In some cases it's paid off big time. Mostly though it just keeps me happy, interested, and hopefully a little sharper.

Could talking to other developers about personal side projects constitute your company claiming ownership of the intellectual property?

No. If you follow the letter of the contract, most IP assignments claim everything their employees do, but practically, that's just because it's impossible to write a contract that says "everything you do for your job, nothing that you don't".

The primary driver is that you don't want to get into litigating how much time your salaried employees work. So most employers will tacitly ignore side projects, only coming after devs who write code that steals users or shifts revenue from their customers to a project that a dev claims to own. And that's pretty rare.

No, as I mentioned, I'm a freelancer. Intellectual property for any project is strictly defined in the contract for that project. I'm also operating on my own equipment, as a separate entity, on my own property. Not to mention that clients are actually not allowed to get to specific with when or how I do my work exactly, without breaking some Canadian (and I suspect American), rules related to distinguishing contractors from employees.

Could you elaborate on defining the intellectual property in your contracts? I've had questions about how to do this correctly recently while negotiating one of my first independent contractor agreements.

> Going for a long-ish walk outside.

Do you have a real objective on those walks (ie getting groceries, lunch) ?

I like walking with non-gym clothes but only when I'm actually doing something in the way...

No, usually that lessens my enjoyment actually. The point for me is to get outside and just enjoy being there, and being a little bit active, not to pack another objective onto my to do list. I'll often make a small coffee and sip that while I listen to a podcast, which could be a business or programming podcast, something like freakonomics, or just entertainment like 'How did this get made?'. On the way back I might stop and pick up a few groceries or something though.

I can see how my way do the opposite for some people though, where the mental pressure valve for them is released by getting something else on their to do list done.

I usually actively listen to some new music or just think about a variety of topics while I walk around the neighborhood. So for me it's less about the walking but getting away from the computer/internet and just don't bother about work related things.

I just walk around the office park I'm in at least once a day. No objective except to listen to music and stretch my legs.

Noticed a lot of my pants were getting tighter 6 months ago and after several months of daily walks things are back to normal.

I am like you, I don't like walking without an objective. When working from home, though, I will take breaks and take my dogs for a walk which is great for everybody involved.

It can be very pleasant to take a long walk with no objective.

Try it some time.

Any podcast can you recommend?

Depends on what you're interested in.

For programming:

-Software engineering daily & the other less frequent version

-the changelog

-shoptalk (mainly frontend)

-twenty percent time (mainly Laravel?)

-syntax (new show)

-full stack radio

-does not compute

(Would love some recommendations for more!)


-Indie hackers

-Tim Ferris (some episodes)

-Startups for the rest of us

-Mixergy Startup Stories

-The pitch

-DFJ ETL (Stanford entrepreneurship podcast)

- How I built this

For life and interesting topics:

- Tim Ferris

- Freakonomics

- Planet Money

- 99% invisible (haven't listened to much, but hear it's very good)

- Between World's (haven't listened to it much yet)

For entertainment:

- How did this get made? (hilarious reviews of bad movies by a group of comedians with various guest comedians)

- Bill Burr (Like having a chat with your funniest friend that you go way back with)

This question self-selects an audience that obviously uses their free time to read hacker news

In my free time, I try and automate things. This ensures smooth and fast solutions during crunch time.

So you work in your free time. :)

I work in an automotive company (one of the big three's) I specialize in Noise and Vibrations. My job description involves testing, analyzing, and solving problems. Everyone I work with has very little to no programming experience (edit - programming is not a part of my job description). We* deal with huge amount of data (coming from sensors and microphones) I like to build custom tools (write software to process the data) so when I am really solving problems, I am spending very little time/effort in data processing and more on analyzing. (edit - a lot of people dont appreciate the things I do, they like to spend hours on running calculations using a standard software that we have, I see this as waste of time since it can be and should be automated)

In this case, their free time breeds free time (barring an employer issuing more work). The logic works in some situations.

Why would you have free time in the office? Or to put it another way, why would you be in the office during your free time?

For me, free time is when I don't have the motivation to start something new right then and there so I look something up or work on learning a new framework/language. It can also be when I finish work and still have 30 minutes until my train. I don't want to start on something to get interrupted but I also don't want to just sit at the train station waiting for my train.

In some countries employees have the right to take a certain amount of free time during work.

Why would you use it? In my case, I find it helpful to go for example for a walk to clean up my head or deal with some private matters that are easier to do during working hours.

I take a train that's on a specific schedule. I try to not over-work myself, so if I have time between the train and finishing most of my work, I'll use it for myself. Just because I'm in the office doesn't mean I'm on the clock.

Right now, we're in the middle of a change freeze and have just finished our major project for the year. I've spent the last few weeks going off on my own and documenting things, automating things, tinkering with things etc and I'm literally out of things to do. Sure the odd task or two crops up every couple of hours but in between them I have lots of free time - at least until next month when it all kicks off again.

Yeah this is my answer: I don't. I put in a tight 7 hours and then spend the rest of my life on my own life things, outside of the office.

When I was working, I settled into a rhythm of being in the office for about 4 hours a day, with almost no free time. No YouTube, no social media, not even checking personal e-mail accounts. I think I would check HN, but I would save the articles to read later and not read them in the office.

It also helps to write down the major things you want to do before you get in the office. When you get there, just start doing it rather than slowly warming up. Also I find that test-driven development helps get rid of this "warm-up" procrastination.

Not everyone can do this, but programmers can sometimes work themselves into that position (e.g. work for a place long enough that people don't question your hours.)

Though I would usually take a break for tea (with no computer) and occasionally a nap... I think those are productive uses of time.

I'm going to go on a bit of a curve here, and say take a walk -- the motion helps me think better and I think there have been studies to that effect.

I go for half-hour walks once or twice per day, or read HN or something. My /etc/hosts file is littered with filled-in rabbit holes like Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but HN gets a pass for now.

I work. Now, there are a couple of caveats here that are integral to what I've said. First is that I love programming. I actually go home at night -- well, I work from home, but you know what I mean -- and I write code for side projects or contribute to other open source projects. I also love my job and the people I work with. I would not do this for a company that shit all over me or didn't go the extra mile for employees. Having worked for startups my entire life, I've never actually been in a work environment where the work ran out -- there is always something to upgrade, refactor, or fix -- but I suppose if it did, I'd use that time to research things related to work I see in the future.

I work from home, and free-time is not something I have, but it's an illusion that plagues me, like an evil force begging me to step away from work and play with the dog, take a nap, or read hckrnews.

Researching ideas that previously came to my mind minutes before when I was busier. I write down these kinds of ideas to save them for later and them I put them out of my mind as I'm trying to do my work. Or, I just browse HN.

Usually I look at this through my phone as I'm walking somewhere. Taking a 4-5 minute break for a walk is important because sitting all day is not healthy. Sometimes the walk has a purpose such as going to the coffee machine. Sometimes it's just randomly moving around then go back to my seat.

Apart from binge-read HN?I usually bring whatever I'm reading and sneak a few pages whenever I'm waiting for feedback or getting a little stir-crazy.

Productivity doesn't happen to me at office, so i have conversations with people on various topics of common interest - which further opens up avenues for exploration.

I sometimes prefer asking the hard questions, which we usually take for granted and try to get another perspective. Its fun and intellectually engaging when you actually sit down with a person and have a conversation rather than text!

> Productivity doesn't happen to me at office

what i meant here, is the "free time in office". I have struggled to learn something new at office since i am always surrounded by people and thats not how i learn. i like isolation when i am learning. Sorry i wasn't clear above. I didn't clearly distinguish the difference between office work productivity and free time productivity. (did i clarify ? :) )

I keep a drum practice pad and drumsticks at my desk. When it's time for a break, I take it to an office and practice for a little while.

I set goals for what I want to accomplish that evening and over the weekend. My wife and I have a running shared todo list that we reorganize and prioritize when we have free time. By the time we get home, we can start getting things done instead of watching TV all night.

I network. I will get coffee with folks (managers, ICs, Execs) who I randomly bump into in meetings, code reviews, fire drills etc and find out what they are working on, future job openings, collaboration opportunities, new product ideas, etc.

I try to take walks. I also check up on stuff that I enjoy as a hobby, such as Youtube channel subscriptions for car videos and other interesting topics.

It gives my brain a bit of a break to think about other things for a little while.

I've been playing Kerbal Space Program at the end of the day at work lately. It's fun as heck, and almost always becomes a team activity involving beer and fun mishaps.

Recently, playing https://meatshields.com Two 10 minutes breaks during the day is enough to have fun.

Asteroids, Ms. Pac Man, Ping pong, a walk outside, etc.

Just about everything else can be attributed to work-related socializing or efficiency enhancement.

Learning a new skill or doing research on something that could help me or my company in the future.

Tittibhasana C - the insect pose

I mostly read HN, the morning paper, go to the bathroom.

Would love to see more answers to this.

Reading HN, checking RSS feeds and talking in freenode #startups.

I wish I had any.



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