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Ask HN: If you had two months off between jobs what would you be doing?
43 points by break_the_bank 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 74 comments
Trying to get some ideas on how to spend my time off.

I had three months off between jobs a couple of years ago. I did absolutely nothing, just sleep in, stay up late, read a few books, watch movies and play games.

After three months I almost felt like a human being again. That feeling was gone 2 days into the new job.

Yep, if I had two months off right now I'd spend the first month just sleeping and unwinding. Second month I'd probably get bored and take a project off my ever-growing rack of "cool things I wanna build but will never have time to do".

Care to show us your rack?

Well, the main thing I want to do at the moment is build an external tracking sensor for Windows Mixed Reality. That'd be a pretty huge product if done right since the one weakness of WMR is the inside-out controller tracking. To do it right, though, it would need to do on-board video processing so it doesn't add any load on the host computer, which would involve implementing SoftPOSIT in an FPGA. That's as far as I've got on that one.

Then there's a ruggedized telepresence robot with enough flexibility that it can be used for inspection and troubleshooting on remote sites, so you don't need a person physically present. It would also let systems maintainers 'teleport' to a remote site for troubleshooting without having to lose a day to plane flights and paperwork. This might even be my next commercial project.

No-one's done a self contained drone 'airport' yet which can hold a few small drones and launch / retrieve / recharge them. It'd be useful for a whole bunch of remote observation and monitoring applications, eg. early bushfire detection. This will be tougher to commercialize due to large incumbent drone operators trying to increase red tape to prevent new players entering the market.

Another idea is a lawn weeding robot, using computer vision to detect weeds and some kind of claw to physically rip them out of the lawn. A few people have done hobby style builds but I don't think one's been commercialized yet.

And then there's a few fun non-commercial project ideas like a license-plate reader based automatic opener for our front gate, facial recognition doorbell / automatic lock for the front door, and a couple of game ideas.

If you hate your job, you might consider having kids. You'll suddenly love the office. Seen it many times.

(Before anyone thinks I am saying you won't also love your kids: that's not how it works.)

I'm an antinatalist, so I won't be having kids any time soon (As well as being chronically single with no social skills whatsoever).


That's...alarming. I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I think you might be in the wrong line of work if that's the case. Work can suck, but it shouldn't be that soul crushing.

Oh, it's not the wrong kind of work, it's just having a job at all. I'm autistic, having to be among people is just so exhausting. It's the cost of acting like a normal person.

Fortunately my current employer is very understanding, I work from home at least one day a week or more if I need it. I can tone down the act a little here, which is very helpful. Unfortunately I can't completely turn it off (I wouldn't be able to function that way). If it were up to me I wouldn't leave the house at all, unfortunately I need to eat, pay the mortgage, etc.

> Work can suck, but it shouldn't be that soul crushing.

Every job is soul crushing. Not because of the work, but because of the fact that you have to do it. The fact you have zero say in how you spend your time. The fact that you have to interact with human beings. etc. There's no way around it.

I'd argue that it still might not fit you. If I'm hearing you correctly, you are in a software engineering position. That job unfortunately requires human interaction, as the problem of correctly designing and deploying software is HARD. It sounds like that isn't lost on you, though, and I can imagine having autism would make this job exceedingly difficult. It sounds like a pure programming job would be ideal for you, but I've never seen one personally. I honestly hope you find one. I just got out of a bad job and I know how taxing it can be.

I disagree that every job is soul crushing, though. At least not intrinsically so. Different jobs are good or bad based on the situation of the one performing it. We do have a choice in that we can choose not to perform that job (although for many that isn't really a true choice).

In any case, I hope your current and future employers recognize your needs. There are too many hard-ass managers with a "business mindset" that would rather avoid working with perfectly productive individuals such as yourself.

> It sounds like a pure programming job would be ideal for you, but I've never seen one personally.

So far I have mainly worked for small startups in R&D type of roles, which suits me well. The problems start when the company starts to grow.

At my current job I was the only developer when I started, now we’re at a dozen developers and they are talking about hiring a scrum master. That’s kind of my sign to start looking, which is a bit sad because this employer has been really good to me. Experience has shown me, however, that sticking around too long when a company gets over a certain size is not a good idea.

> I hope your current and future employers recognize your needs.

They do. Honestly they’ve been great about it, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

>Every job is soul crushing.

It really isn't for everyone. If I decided to pack it in tomorrow, I'd still do a lot of the same things I do today albeit with more pure pure leisure mixed in. I realize I'm in a privileged position in that regard but nonetheless that's how it is for me.

> If I decided to pack it in tomorrow, I'd still do a lot of the same things I do today

Same here. The problem is not the core of the job, I love writing software. What kills me is meetings, having to sit in an office surrounded by humans (the sound of people talking especially easily causes sensory overload), having to work during the day (I'm a night person by nature and bright light is problematic for me), having to stay in the office for 8 hours even though I'm spent after 5, bullshit social events (I usually skip them, but you can't skip all of them), having to work with others (sometimes I spend more time convincing others of how I want things done than actually doing them).

Programming is great, having a job isn't.

As I say, I'm fortunate. (Also I'm not a programmer.) I work mostly remotely and actually don't have a huge number of meetings etc. I travel a lot but a lot of that is to conferences, etc. most of which are on my own volition and I actually enjoy.

Yep. I actually like Mondays

If you ask me before I take the two months off, I would plan to write a novel, write, shoot and direct a movie, take the CFA, back test some trading algorithms, and write three apps (one game, one very useful app in a new industry I know nothing about, and some social app) while learning new languages (mandarin and some variant of lisp).

If you ask me after the two months, I most likely caught up on Westworld.

This question depends very much on WHETHER OR NOT THE NEXT JOB IS ALREADY LINED UP.

If I don't have to worry about my unemployment, then for two months I would spend more time with my family and on personal interests that refresh my mind and spirit.

Otherwise, I would spend the two months networking and interviewing toward the next job. A job hunt IS a full-time job. Quite frankly, a more time-consuming and stressful job than being a computer programmer is.

Don't you read posts here? If you have a pulse you send an email or two and have a new FAANG job paying $400K in a couple days. </s>

Somewhat annoyingly (but not really), the one time I had 6 weeks or so off I did spend it job hunting. [This was during dot-bomb by way of context.] Somewhat annoyingly because the conversation I had with a company owner I knew literally about a couple of days after I was laid off led to an eventual job offer at the small company. But, of course, I didn't know that at the time.

And the job after that was the usual case of "How soon can you start?"

If I knew I'd have a couple months off, I'd quickly book tickets to someplace I wanted to take an extended vacation to.

> And the job after that was the usual case of "How soon can you start?"

That's when I would normally say that I've been planning a trip so I can start in 2 months. Then you can relax with your next role lined up.

It actually works really well for negotiation too. While interviewing say that you've been planning a trip/something else and that you weren't even really looking for a job but the position you're talking about was so interesting you thought it was worth exploring.

That helps because it gives the appearance of:

1. Not being under financial pressure

2. Having many options for employment that you can choose at will

Both are very helpful when negotiating. High end individuals usually won't have to rush into a new job right away and will often do some intercontinental travel or large personal project between roles.

That's all fair. But, in this case, it was a role that was created specifically for me and they really did want me to get started right away.

And I did somewhat split the difference. I had drawn up a short list of vacation spots and, as soon as I got confirmation of the offer, I booked a trip for 2-3 weeks.So it's not like I started the next day. (I also needed to ramp down in my then current position.)

I’m with this one. I’ve been out of work for an extended period previously. It’s very stressful.

If it was with another job lined up, and I had money... oh I’d travel (still dream about Hawaii most nights since visiting. Ridiculous.), read, learn something, visit my family (rural ON), visit my girlfriends family (BC/the island), exercise and sleep long. Probably indulge in video games because I don’t often.

Yeah. Now I’m dreaming about two months off. If money’s not a problem, then enjoy your reclaimed time OP.

This is myself as well. I'm still working the job that I got right out of college. Even though I'm confident in my networking and programming ability, I would still be panicked into finding my next job immediately. If I had my next job lined up, however, I would be visiting family and friends, and likely traveling any practicing my photography. You're not offered that kind of extended leave often - I would certainly take advantage of it.

Well he said "between jobs", implying he already has another job.

I just did that this summer. I saw a bunch of friends, went out a lot made more friends, traveled around my state to see old friends...

But the thing that was most satisfying was committing to volunteer work every single week. People complain so much about social injustice and how we should tax this and that... Very few will open their pockets or put the time in to actually make a difference.

Personally I’d turn off my electronics, grab some books and go hiking in the wilderness. At least for a couple weeks. You may never get a chance to be this “unplugged” again.

To be less extreme, I'd go road tripping, carrying a camera and tablet/e-reader and not a laptop.

To me, the point would be to unplug. Carrying around a camera and tablet defeats the entire purpose.

The camera is because photography is fun and the tablet is for information which is invaluable on the road, especially in case of natural disasters like wildfires. (Twitter came in handy for avoiding wildfire closures on my last trip). You also need a way to contact your bank/credit card if you start getting declined.

Just uninstall all your social media apps!

Absolutely travel. Traveling solo is a hugely rewarding experience. Stay in hostels to meet other people and make friends. If money is tight, choose a cheap area. If you like outdoor adventuring, combine it with rock climbing or summiting some mountains. (I can provide recommendations if you want)

I had a similar situation, I just ran, hit the gym, dated and learned Clojure. Great times take me back.

This actually happened to me before I started my current job. I was leaving a senior-level role as a .NET developer, and was moving over to be a standard-level developer in Ruby and Python. I left mid-way through November, thanks to a ton of holiday I had booked for Christmas, and decided to join in January instead of at a time when everything winds down in a lot of companies.

My Python knowledge was non-existent, so I spent most of my time sleeping in, and working my way through a set of Python books. I worked through Learn Python The Hard Way, and Data Structures and Algorithms in Python, and although I've not done much Python this year it gave me the best of both worlds. I was able to relax through the two months off, but keep my mind in code and get over the initial impostor syndrome I'd get from joining an established team with zero experience of their tools in anger.

Frankly, I still feel like my Ruby and Python skills are beginner-level, at best, but those two months helped me hit the ground running at my new job, and nearly a year later I've come to appreciate different languages as similar in many ways. I feel that I can start a new non-trivial project and (if given enough time) I can write working code in either to achieve a task - something I didn't feel before, which I put down to the two months holiday I took.

Ask yourself what is the biggest thing you always stop yourself from doing because you "don't have enough time" and go for it. For me it would be working on more open source projects and ideas.

I personally write blog posts I find interesting[1], catch up around the house (new jobs typically take up more time than old), and take long walks or runs (maybe play some video games or read).

Personally, I have trouble not being productive (or at least feeling productive). Often this leads me to pick up a news skill (eg cooking Indian cuisine, leaning Haskell, installing a news Linux district, etc).

Last time I had two months off I wrote a website to help you invest by tacking insiders at companies who speak publically: https://projectpiglet.com/

Incidentally, I'll likely be taking a month or so off shortly to just clean the garage and build a couple pieces of furniture. Along with taking care of my son (preturnity leave, but plan to leave him in day care a couple days a week).

[1] https://austingwalters.com

You want to provide a promo code?:)

Looks really cool! About to signup for the beta.

Spend some time with your family and friends. You could "combine" this with the many travel recommendations you are getting, by (1) visiting loved ones who live far from you or (2) traveling somewhere with them.

Enjoy your time off!

Go see all my friends who are all over the world, and eat long dinners and drink nice wine and exercise everyday and catch up on my reading list and take aimless walks and prepare for my new job, but at a relaxed pace.

A lot of folks would say travel, but last time I had a gap (3 weeks between jobs), I did the exact opposite. I made an ideal routine - I ran every morning, I started cooking, I read most evenings.

Between 11am and 4pm, I'd find some "work" to take care of - mostly home-related and some favors for family members. I kept saying I'd do something audacious - join an open source project, write an app, yadda-yadda - but this would just bring me down.

I can't be motivated to excel until I'm absolutely comfortable where I am. Sometimes it takes a few days of freedom to remember that.

If I were single, I’d go stay at a particular Zen-inspired meditation retreat center farm that I’ve lived at before between jobs. It’s a nice lifestyle of meditation, cooking/eating/cleaning, drinking tea, farming, etc.

I just recently had 5 months off between jobs. I was already being recruited for other jobs so I never worried about finding a new one. I relaxed and also studied different things that I always wanted to but didn't have the time.I basically wanted to enjoy a summer with no stress for the first time in a long time. I would have taken 6 months off but my car had issues again so I decided to answer some of those recruiters. I had a new job in 2 weeks making almost double what I did before. But I say that with adding the caveat that I was underpaid at my last job.

Open source development.

I often have long periods of time off - that's the nature of contracting. You only need to work all the time if you want toys. So right now I'm learning, training, and giving back.

This is the ideal situation for me. I very strongly value personal development and I feel it's impossible to get with a regular gig. I'd prefer work that's more transient in nature and gives me time to explore projects for learning and personal interest.

I'd do nothing. Yes, a lot of that.

Two months is a long time. It's great to sleep in and stay up late and all that, but it can get old fast. Now is the perfect time to take care of some items on your bucket list. Don't have a bucket list? Great time to make one! On a tight budget? Take the time to catch-up with friends and family. Be a tourist in your area. Take some day trips to nearby areas. Seize the free time so that when you start back to work, you don't look back on it as a wasted opportunity!

Travel, learn a language, read, code on a personal project, help others -- it could be anything.

One thing I've typically done is a breadth-first search of interests at that point in time, so I know how to direct my activities to get fulfillment out of life for the next few years. I've mainly been able to do that through reading a lot (nonfiction mostly). It's hard to do when you're full-time working.

My only semi joking answer has been to hire a personal trainer and follow John Cena's workout regiment in an attempt to get truly sculpted - while I hit the gym frequently now, making it my job would let me get some awesome results.

Alternatively, I would take a hardcore tech break. Rent out a cabin in a remote area and just relax, write and hike all day. Maybe pick archery back up.

I had 3 months between jobs 3 years ago. I watched all of Doctor Who (never watched it before) and just generally relaxed, ate healthy, and exercised. I also spent 2 weeks traveling. This was very useful because I was quite burned out from the previous job.

I have a year off between jobs right now (finance non compete) and I'm using the time to bootstrap a company

With enough notice and time to prepare I'd drive the PanAmerica Highway from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia South America camping along the way. Only thing stopping me right now is time away from work. Might take more than 2 months though.

I had these few months and rather casually I'm putting the finishing touches on a side project. It was also beneficiary during the job hunting.

I wish I had traveled more, but laziness and monitor addiction is real :)

I just had 7 months off and I went travelling(mostly US and EU). Another time I did a huge chunk of South East Asia with 3 months. 2 months would also give you ample time to explore a lot of new places!

I would finish a side project and hoping it would turn into something.

I would travel to a new country I have not been before and explore the culture and food.

I would find a nice fiction novel to read, and I would try to build a habit of working out each day.

If you don't already, workout every day! get in the habit while you have no excuse not to go. Once you get in the habit, you won't stop after you start working.

Ride my motorcycle across the U.S. like this guy did.


Relaxing. Siestas. Spending time with my kid, taking her to parks, playing with her. Taking wife to movies, dinner and reading books.

I would try to set up a healthier lifestyle, primarily by working on establishing consistent exercise and eating patterns.

Same thing I did when I had 6 days between jobs. Work on my side projects and have fun doing it. A lot of progress also!

Probably just more of the same stuff I do in me free time. Work on music, cycling, beer drinking, and lots more sleep.

I will study some math. Revisiting high school math textbooks. They really hide the application part in those years!

I'd travel to a different country, read some books, meet some new people & go on dates.

Divide my time between ML and crypto, trying to understand the fundamentals of each discipline.

Studied and got an AWS certification. Played basketball. Traveled. It was a good summer.

How has the certification benefited you since then? I am considering working towards it as well.

Beware of "cool" things - it's a waste of time and money, likely dangerous for health. Skydiving and travelling to Cambodia or Mongolia is an unimpressive cliche.

Catch up on health (posture, sight, diet). Catch up with family. Sort out any outstanding paperwork (tax declarations, pension related). Sleep long. Read.

Skydiving is both fun and not that dangerous. It's "cool" for a reason.

Learn to use Blender. Or invent yet another new programming language.

Solo backpacking in Central/South America or Asia.

Go around visiting national parks for some eco-therapy

I took a week off between my last job and current job. It really feels like you've dropped out of society. I don't recommend doing that for more than a week.

Travel, read books, work on side projects

I went on a 300 mile hike

I'd go travelling.

Riding my bike. A LOT.

finish editing a couple of wikipedia articles

travel the world of course

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