I average 40/week. Some weeks I need to surge, rarely I need to work weekends, but my ability to put in long hours is capped by my home situation (and my desire not to be a workaholic).
I wake my kids and get them ready for school each day. Sometimes they need homework help. We eat dinner together every night, and of course I have them all the time so we get to spend time together regardless of whether we want to. :)
I do strength training at the gym 2x/week, before the kids wake up. I run 3x/week, again before they get up.
I am as productive as I am required to be, but often no more productive. Meaning that the demands of life force productivity on me but I don't go crazy with the extracurricular activities.
I do spend time each day thinking about what my most important tasks are, just to make sure I'm making the best use of my time. I don't let other people take over my calendar, but I work for a small company so we're not meeting-heavy anyway.
All things considered, I am doing fine. I am fortunate to have understanding coworkers, good friends, and two really wonderful children.
For health, gym at 5:30am 4 days during the work week and an occasional Saturday workout. I try to eat healthy but not to the point where I'm not looking forward to a meal. Cooking for my SO is also a big stress reliever after a long day or if she's about to start a 24 hour call shift or something.
Productivity wise, I'm personally a fan of the "Nike" approach: just do it. If you're at work, do work. Don't sit on HN or Reddit or Facebook. If you need to use RescueTime or change your hosts file or whatever, fine. But just doing what you're supposed to be doing when you're supposed to be doing it is about as crucial a piece of the puzzle to your success as you'll ever find.
If you absolutely can't find anything to do in your task list, then you could do one of these two - first : find a colleague who needs help and help them. Second, keep a diary (or text file) and learn something new that is specific to your job/company. In my case, I work on a mid sized webapp, I know probably 30% of the application - so I make it a point to learn something small here and there, and it adds up over a period of time. Yes, I am aware that this knowledge is useless if I leave this job, but until then it is very useful.
Last summer I was in Europe and I've been working 10-12h per day in August (my peak month so far). June-November approx 4-6 hours a day.
Now I'm in Koh Phangan, Thailand and work few hours a month, but fully focusing on healthy lifestyle and training/meditation.
In April I go back to Europe and plan is to grind hard for the next few years. I work in bursts. My routine when I work full-time is having breakfast at my place or a coffee shop and working from there in the morning, hitting the gym around noon, then more work at home/another coffee shop, and unwind during the evening.
There are exceptions to this, if I don't feel productive in the afternoons, I postpone work for evening. I again tend to feel the "flow" of my mental productivity and organize around that. Never had any strict rules and it's been working pretty fine so far.
Timezone difference (+13h) can be PITA.
- Live near work to avoid traffic
- Work around 35 hours a week
- Don't take my work home
- Don't even think about work on weekends
- Do things that make me happy and unrelated to work
- Don't stress about attending every tech meetup
- Moderate alcohol consumption. Used to drink everyday
- Exercise but don't obsess about it
- Understand building a successful company takes years of work
- Therapy. Don't need it as much anymore but I check-in on a monthly basis
- Constantly remind myself that Health > Happiness > Work
- 6:00am: Wake up, make breakfast, shower, etc.
- 7:20am: I'm at work at 7:30 am (10 mins commute)
- 7:30am: Meditate 20 mins
- 7:50am: Set objectives for the day
- 8:00am: Get stuff done. (insert productivity tips here)
- 3:30pm: Eat lunch
- 4:00pm: Get home and relax
- 4:30pm: 20 mins workout at home
- 5:00pm: Spend time with my wife and disable phone notifications
- 6:00pm: I may play the guitar, play videogames or watch some Netflix
- 8:00pm: Make dinner, probably some new recipe I found on the internet
- 8:30pm: Watch some TV show or read a book, or just chill
- 10:00pm: Get to bed
I started the year out with setting my priorities in this manner and holding strictly to it. If it doesn't obviously fit into to one of these columns it probably falls under "Unnecessary pleasure-seeking"
My tip would be to go to the gym just after work as it relaxes your mind a lot, especially if you are a developer. Unfortunately doesn't work in my case since my gym is fully packed at that time. So I take a half an hour break then walking outside or something similar before I jump in my side projects. Another tip would be to wake up and spend time on your side projects before starting your work (ideally if you can start a bit later as well) since your mind is working at 100% at that time. Of course this requires that you are a morning person..
I go to gym and try to enjoy the summer as much as I can.
Productivity tips: organize your life and move to a decent country with a decent culture. American work culture is terrible, so is Asia. You can make 10 trillions of dollars, but there is no way you can buy the 30 seconds that it took me to write that answer. I think those bad ideas are contagious so if you live in America, it is very unlikely that you will be able to balance well your life as everything there is about consumerism and it will eventually get you, maybe more in the country side that might be possible, but I can't see that happening in a big city. Live a simple life.
Once you are dead, it is over, so enjoy your time.
Why retire early? I value being able to work. Not to mention that they generally talk about living frugal lifestyles, which I'm not a fan of. I like investing, making money etc. But all those retire before X schemes rely on people not understanding economics. Today you might have like 25x your yearly income or something that would enable you to retire, but as inflation, new currencies and changes in taxation and government policies, you will eventually get wrecked in the next 30-40 years. Just check how much the taxation in America has changed in the last 30-40 years and now try to believe that with your saved money you can live until you die.
Personally, I don't think living frugally is a scheme. Spending less than you make and resisting the urge to buy things you don't need are the basic ideas behind financial independence. Investing your excess income allows for passive income to be generated.
Obviously this isn't viable for everyone, but if you're in a position of highish income and don't mind living frugally for some years, it's amazing what you're able to save. Some countries that tax their residents very high amounts (ex: many European countries) it might be harder to get ahead, but still not impossible to save I'd imagine.
> Why retire early? I value being able to work
There's nothing wrong with that! But for people who are interested in retiring early, they may have other goals in life besides their career. Retiring early allows for travel while you're still young and healthy, volunteer work, etc. Loving your job is a great thing and I think it's possible to work towards financial independence and enjoy your work.
> Just check how much the taxation in America has changed in the last 30-40 years and now try to believe that with your saved money you can live until you die
I'm not sure how taxes relate to the ability of my investments to generate returns. Could you elaborate a bit more on this?
About the American thing. The US has been printing a lot of money lately and there are many signs that this party will be over in a very bad way. People will riot, go to the streets, question why some developer at FB makes 400k+ year not to mention the executives doing some bullshit work, burn down things and in the end they will possibly need to make America more socialist. The same type of mockery and abuse the US does to socialist countries, will be done to its own capitalist people. You really don't understand the dimension of power the US has been using(and losing) over the years with the Dollar. Nowadays to be honest, almost everything I buy is from China, not the US. I wonder how the US can survive running huge deficits and creating conflict with other countries.
America nowadays just export dollars. It is a product that more and more people are with their hands full. Instead of questioning me about that, I think you would be better off asking your government how to make anything that you earn
and save Today, will have ANY value at all in the future.
In summa, good luck with that.
Who is mandating this?
> I would feel a bit like taking advantage of others, if I would just wake up everyday and enjoy life meanwhile I have a gardner [sic], one person to clean my swimming pool, buy everything on the supermarket(which was made by somebody), just getting services, but not using my fully capability in order to help society thrive
If you work 80 hours per week for 30 years, are you morally superior to someone who has only spent 40 hours per week working for 40 years? It's absurd and impossible to assign morality to time working.
Looks like you're asserting some sense of moral imperative that people work until they're 65. Moving the goalposts from a whether it's _possible_ to retire early to whether it's _moral_ to retire early seems to be nonsense to me. I don't believe there's any morality to be found one way or the other in working until age 65, it's a non sequitur.
> The US has been printing a lot of money lately [...] I think you would be better off asking your government how to make anything that you earn and save Today, will have ANY value at all in the future.
I completely agree; if we keep spending more than is taxed as well as printing money faster, then yes that will be the case. The debt is unsustainable in the US currently.
Where you and I differ is what we think the result of that increasing debt will be. I think the US will eventually cut social programs and possibly increase taxes to fix the debt problem. You seem to think that socialism will be the end result. I hope that isn't the case, as I have a hard time finding a situation where fighting debt with more debt works in the long run.
Thank you for taking the time to discuss with me!
I used to work 10-14 hours a day, plus 24x7x365 oncall. It was miserable and my health (mental and physical) suffered greatly.
Mostly now I lift weights, run, and try to practice portion control.
The only remaining bad thing in work-life balance is my 8 hours of work is bookended by perhaps an hour each way commute, and it's getting worse every year. In another year or two there's going to be more mass transit in my area so at least I can play games on my phone instead of driving.
After work, I balance hobbies with family time. To be honest I have a harder time balancing hobbies with family time than I do balancing work and family.
Family mealtime in the evening is critical. It's the one constant every day, and it's a chance for all of us to talk and laugh together. It's usually the best time of the day for me. I try to persuade my daughter to help me prepare the meal too, which is fun to do together.
So for hobbies + family, on a work day it's anywhere between 3-6 hours.
I am generally healthy but should get more exercise. I play ice hockey about one day a week, every week of the year. At times I have felt like quitting, but I force myself to keep playing because without it I wouldn't get any exercise. I've learned that this 90 minutes of playing a sport is very therapeutic for my brain. I forget about everything in the world and just play. Nothing melts away a hard day at work like skating hard for 90 minutes and trying to pass and shoot (I'm a beginner).
My productivity tips: stop using social media, close/remove anything on screens that show popups or alerts, and get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
I do work 4 days a week (+ 1 or 2 days a week working on my farm). Working from 8:30 till 4pm and having 1.5 hours break to cook for my familly and we eat together.
I guess my business hours looks short, but it consist of focused time only: no browsing web, no facebook, twitter or other social network, no calls and definitely no meetings.
Rest of my time is generaly spent with my family. I dont really do any exercise but I still manage to walk 10 a 15 kms a day + manual work on my farm.
I'm also married, a father of six kids, and we live out of town on 2.5 acres with a sizable orchard.
One thing that helps keep things balanced is that my wife chose long ago to stay at home with our young ones. She is my best friend, and we always make decisions together, which is a huge help when confronted with the inevitable time-conflicts that new opportunities or old problems present.
I enjoy my job. Frankly, my job is absent a lot of the drudgery that many people have. It is challenging, and while we're not the startup-crazy-growth type of business, we are slowly growing and there's always something new to be done. The worst for my family and for my health has been the travel. From August 2018 to December 2018 I was on the road 11 weeks out of 22; roughly half of the fall was spent out of town, working out of a hotel and customer locations. I ate too well and exercised too little, and missed my family terribly.
When I'm in town, I work from 7am to 5pm, but I have almost no commute--it takes me only 10 minutes on rural roads to get to my office. Deer and school buses are the only delays! It's much easier to eat healthy foods and exercise.
I haven't worked a Saturday or Sunday in years--even while traveling, I'm nearly always able to be home on the weekends. This has been a huge help in keeping me grounded and giving time to putter around the orchard and play with my kids.
I cut down personal projects to a minimum after reading "Why we sleep", and it helps with overall well-being.
Commuting via Bike is also a big health-win for me. One hour on most work-days (sometimes the temperature or other circumstances require the car).
If you work more, you get abused and low-balled by salary negotiations
I think most people in most jobs will have something come up where they do a little extra, if only to help out a team member or something.
If I need to help a team member, I skip lunch to pitch in.
I just think being unflinchingly rigid in either direction is the problem. If you expect people to work extra time on a regular basis, or consistently, that's bad. If someone asks you a question that will take 15 minutes to answer and you won't do it because it's 4:50 and not 4:45, that's just as bad.
If I don’t defend my time, who else will? I don’t buy the argument about rigidness being a bad thing. That’s how boundaries work best: clearly defined and enforced.
My concern are the employees who feel obligated to provide free work to keep their jobs. That’s what unions used to be for, to keep poor management practices in check, instead of a culture of fear and silent suffering.
When you're young and without responsibilities, there is no glaring cost to giving away free labor, but if I do so, it comes directly out of my time with my kids.
I said it in another comment but it's being unflinchingly rigid that I think in a problem (in either direction).
My trick is to never work weekends. I work as hard as possible during the week then try not to work at all on the weekends. The key is to get into a routine where you don't burn out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Find what works for you for the longterm. People in their early 20's who think they can keep 80 hour weeks up forever are naive (I used to be that way). Make time to socialize and maintain friendships.
Mental and physical health are essential. Eat healthy, exercise, don't push yourself too hard for too long.
Productivity wise I make sure I always have tasks to do, regularly make sure my environment is clean with natural sunlight and earplugs nearby, and make sure I’ve showered, rested, and eaten. When I get distracted and want to go on HN, most of the time I read a math book instead. That way I either learn math, or realize how much easier my startup is and go back to doing that.
Haha, this is an awesome hack. Thanks!
It was great because I didn't waste time with downtime at work or traffic etc. I was able to make all my pregnant wife's doctor's appointments with out really having to ask for time off. I work best on big projects at night when it's quiet and don't function well on big thinking items in the morning.
I left this awesome job for more money, which ultimately was a mistake.
I need my side project, because it helps me get thru the day, it gives me hope.
Shameless plug, but I'm looking for remote work.
The cost is commute time, we live in a suburban area at the edge of our metro area and I have to drive 20 minutes each way to get downtown.
My only productivity 'trick' is to close down all non-business browser tabs when I need to get some real work done because HN and Reddit are enormous time sucks.
I'll cherry-pick projects that interest me. I don't usually seek them out, it will be former clients, business associates, or people who know me who bring me the things to work on.
I usually only commit to average 15-20 hours/week on a project. I don't accept on-site work, save for maybe a week of ramp-up or meet and greet. I don't accept daily stand-ups or checkins for the sake of them. I usually update my clients every 2 weeks on progress. I try to keep them to email communication where possible.
I will often do the 15-20 hours I commit to in a single day, usually bursting on a friday/saturday/sunday after thinking about what needs to be done during the week.
Reading the other comments, I'm apparently odd in my work habits, but I won't "force" myself to work. I either am in the zone or I'm not. I either know what needs to be done, or I don't. Staring at a screen and being glum about it just makes me miserable, so I don't do that. The difference in my work when I'm ready to work, vs my work when I'm forced to work feels very "10X" -- they're not similar outputs at all. I'm very clearly a better coder when I've had time to ponder and prepare first.
We don't have kids, and wife is a professor, so we both have scads of free time to do local outdoorsy stuff. We usually just go to the zoo though, as we like animals a touch more than people. :)
Health is becoming a challenge, as my warranty expired when I turned 38, and I'm starting to get those maladies that come with age, plus I feel weaker generally -- so I'm experimenting with diet and strength routines. That's a fancier way to say I do a bunch of squats or pushups every day, and will walk first instead of snacking if I get bored (my vice). My dad's dad died of a heart attack when he was my age, so I'm trying to be careful.
We don't have a lot of stuff. We do a lot of travelling. We do live in a fairly high COL city (Portland) but if she got into remote learning at her college, we could both work from anywhere.
We're insanely fortunate.
Have you done your blood tests? Sugar/insulin , vitamin D, Ferro, liver, morphology? There are plenty "new"/silent civilisation diseases: insulin resistance, hashimoto, diabetes...
I work roughly 40 hours a week, and I have a commute that's ~45-60 minutes. It's 5 miles by road, but it's a classic unusual Boston commute by bus and T. Coming from a startup, the stability and health of working at a large company with well established practices and a good balance was a very welcome change.
I absolutely recommend the course Learning How To Learn, and one of the best insights I got from it is the importance of the "diffuse" mode for learning and processing. Sleep and exercise can be incredibly helpful for this, and I've found that everything is better with sleep and exercise. I try to swim 2-3 times a week at lunch, and I do weights on the weekends and occasionally in weekday evenings.
Often times I'll have a problem in my head before I run or swim, and usually by the time I've finished a solution will have naturally floated up from the depths. I've also found that a similar focused studying session followed by a long diffuse mode run, swim, or walk is incredibly productive for learning something new, and it feels like studying on easy-mode when it works!
This is when my second shift starts. I pick up the kid's area, clean the kitchen, dishes, laundry, and whatever other stuff is left over. After that I do another 2 to 4 hours of work depending on when things are due, late to the bus, early to leave because of family stuff. In bed somewhere between 1am and 4am.
I keep track of my life in todo lists. Got a notebook and a pen within arm's reach at any given time. Zero Inbox/Bullet Journal/GTD my entire life, work and personal. I also naturally do sort of a pomodoro technique with everything. Breaking it down into smaller parts so I can cover as much space as possible. Cleaning the kitchen turns into two separate tasks (dishes, and cleanup) which I then inject 10 minutes with the wife or kid in between. It probably adds more time to my overall day, but I can't push their schedules later and I need to get work done so I can't push my duties to later either.
The other "trick" is I've never needed a lot of sleep so I can do stuff later at night once everyone is in bed. Sleep on the bus, or whenever I have a free moment.
My previous job was within biking distance so that was my health management. Now I have to ride the commuter bus so I'll have to figure something out once the 2nd kid comes.
I wouldn't dispute that the vast majority of people do live in a cyclical state of drudgery and leisure.
However, if you have the luxury of being able to "balance" these states, then you're likely not doing the same kind of drudgery that seems to be descriptive of the concept. I've had those jobs and been in that position, my shift leader didn't care about helping me make time for my hobbies.
So my answer is, there is no "right" balance and what others do will only serve to create many different "greener pastures" in your mind.
At different times in my life I've worked 90 hour weeks for months at a time, and others 10 hour weeks. I've spent long periods (almost a year) as a stay home dad, at other points I spent almost a year completely away from my family.
The distinction is, I have made my life my work (ever hear of a "life's work"?), in that there are things that I want to achieve and I have created my career around progress toward that goal.
I've structured my life such that the type of work I do serves my broader life goal.
At the point in which that's not possible, then how I spend my time is out of my control and the question becomes moot because I'd effectively have no control over my life.
I average 55 hours/week at work. Usually this means 9-7 5 days per week but sometimes its 9-8 or I'll work for 3-4 hours on a weekend.
I don't spend any time with family because I am single and my whole family lives on the east coast.
I spend 4-5 hours a week working out, usually weight training in the morning right before work.
Nothing fancy for productivity - create lists for everything, prioritize the items on your lists, and put the items you commit to on a calendar. Know yourself and try to schedule at a pace you can realistically accomplish, but don't freak out if you only tackle 70% of your list for any given day. The trick is to be disciplined about actually using these lists (I'm still bad at this).
When you're feeling like you're totally burned out and don't want to do any work - just do ONE thing that day. Making ANY progress at all is so much better for your psyche than getting nothing done, and once you complete that one thing you can stop beating yourself up for being unproductive and enjoy just doing nothing.
Productivity tip: start a business, delegate everything, then either sell the business or keep it as "passive" income. After delegating all operational work, you can manage a business with just one meeting a week. Hence you can manage multiple businesses in less time and more profitably than having a full time job.
Happiness is a different thing though, which unless you are burning yourself out, or hate your job, doesn't really depend on how many hours you work. In fact, having too much "free" time in your hands can sometimes feel a lot worse than not having any.
Anyway since most people here seem to be from industry. Here is my situation working as an academic in Europe.
I normally work from 9 to 6. Sometimes if I am chasing a conference deadline (2-3 times a year) work after hours and weekends. I also choose conferences which also double as my vacation spots (one of the reasons why I decided to stay in academia).
Bike to work (15-20 minutes each way). No kids most likely will never have any. Spend most of my free time with my SO after work cooking, watching TV, reading, or just relax. Go swimming sometimes. Bike trips in summer. Cook and Eat healthy balanced vegetarian food.
I work every day from morning to evening with no regular days off. I take a 3-4 day break every 6 months or so.
I work out almost every day, sometimes in the morning, sometimes over a lunch break.
Productivity is managed via detailed to do lists for every project. The day is broken down into morning session, afternoon session, and evening session. I constantly re-organise by moving things between the slots to optimise deep work.
On top of my own research, I receive constant tasks from my adviser who uses me as a kind of assistant for everything they feel like. They do not pay my tuition or have hired me as a TA (I am funded via an unrelated scholarship).
I cannot wait to get out.
I take about 45 days off a year.
30 min commute but I can work remote whenever I like.
I used to work more and I know this is a nice set up, but it still feels like I have no time for anything.
I’m underproductive outside of work and manage health by eating kiwis
I work out 3-4 days a week. Sometimes I go to gym during lunch, other times after work and maybe one day on weekends. I try to limit sugar and carbs but am not as obsessive about it as I used to be (I want to get _more_ obsessive about limiting sugar again however). I supplement with everything that I think is worth it and that we have enough data on - creatine, fish oil, Vit D, B12, caffeine, L-Theanine, Hyaluronic Acid.
I spend about an hour or two most days on some sort of mental self-improvement project - coding, learning math, something like that.
I try to give myself at least an eight-hour sleep opportunity every night.
I wake up, go to the gym (1h), then I go to work (8h +1h eating), come back home, work on my startup (2-3h).
On weekends same, except I'm only working on my startup.
It is a tough life, after 1 month of this schedule, I was exhausted, but the body is capable of adapting, and now I handling that easily. This is possible only because I use my bike as transportation system and thus it is very fast, and that everything I do is optimized.
Downsides is that I have almost no social life, I mean I could have about 1h of social life per day, but that would require too much energy. My health is good, but this is thanks to all the sport I do I think
I've never been in a company in France where working 40 hours (actually 35, 37.5 or 39 hours depending on contract and company size) was considered underperforming, for example. I've had two bosses who used to actually force some people to leave the office after 6pm or so (office time was 9-12/13-18) though I've never been one to stay longer than necessary myself.
In Canada however, I was expected to stay late in the evenings but that's just one company so I can't say it is representative of the whole country.
Absolutely not in my experience. And ironically even less so in France. Have worked in Dublin, France, Switserland, and Belgium. The workweeks as a contractor were respectively (38,38,42,40)
I used to only do 12 hrs a week at the coworking space, but what changed for me was I started taking 3 hr naps after my 9-5. So I nap 7p-10p, wake up go to coworking space until 2am, go to bed by 4am, wake up at 8am. I feel it resets my brain to sleep inbetween dayjob work and startup work. Sat/Sun I just try to do 8 hrs each day, and also workout. As for social life - no I do not have one. I guess sometimes I hang out with my sister who is 17 yrs younger than me - we usually play videogames.
It's not fair to yourself to work beyond a sustainable amount: once you pull a weekend shift or two, your boss starts to expect it even when you can't do it, and you set yourself down an unsustainable path. I make it clear to my bosses that I won't do this, and if they need me to, it's a sign of corporate disfunction, not my own.
Productivity trick: I diligently incorporate exercise into my commute: I either bicycle or run (with backpack) as part of my evening commute, roughly year round. Combining the activity with bus routes makes this feasible in most large cities, and the activity quickly becomes the most enjoyable part of my day.
I have a few hours in the evening designated as non-work time, and I never work weekends.
Sometimes it goes higher than that (particularly if there's an emergency), but mostly I do my hours, get things done, and then go home to spend time with my partner and our 9-month old .
No productivity tricks, I'm lucky enough to enjoy my work.
I've got a day with the kids, she's got a day with the kids, we've got a weekend with the entire family. On Thursday evenings once every two weeks, we get a babysitter and have an evening for the two of us.
I completely neglected exercise until recently (I'm 44), but since a few months I'm doing cross-fit twice a week (aiming for 3 times).
Main productivity trick: sleep well, keep work hours limited so you can give it your undivided attention during that time.
Typically I do Pomodoro and spend the breaks having tea, talking with my partner, etc.
My plan is to take several months off each year.
45-50h/wk, 1h+ commute, 21 days paid holydays.
After moving to europe:
35-37.5h/wk, living 18min by foot from work, 25 days paid holidays.
My two main time sinks are travel to customers (sometimes 2-3h train rides one way, which I use to work) and conference calls (which are scheduled all over the place by sales people and make a complete mess of my focus time). Neither is considered to be an issue (since many of my co-workers have absolutely no clue about what it takes to do good technical work and think I conjure it up magically).
Typical day starts at 6:30: breakfast (occasionally with kids), read news/RSS/HN, pack for going out to customers, start work at 9:00-9:30. If lucky, I can spend at least half a day (usually mornings) working from home until I am interrupted. Lunch takes me less than 30m if at home, 2h if with customer/peers (Mediterranean culture).
I usually stop working at around 19:30 (dinner time with kids) and then spend some time clearing out my inbox and scheduling things while watching TV or conference videos. The default downtime pastime is reading if there’s nothing else to do.
This still piles up enough that I have to work the occasional Sunday afternoon (usually coding or putting together PoC scenarios). To keep sane, I do side projects on weekends and pick stuff that I can re-use for work.
I walk everywhere I can (hate driving, haven’t done it in years) and have an exercise bike I use in the mornings (but not usually in Winter, it’s too cold). No upper body exercises, which is a pain in various regards since one of my shoulders is going stiff (am looking into that).
The most important factor for me is sleep. If I don’t sleep at least 7 hours a day everything goes downhill - focus, mood, output, etc. So I make it a point of going to bed early and avoiding unnecessary trips (which compress my schedule and force me to get up too early or arrive home too late). That does not sit well with some of my peers, but, again, the amount of time required to keep up to date and/or do quality work is not appreciated.
Everything else is just a matter of making sure I keep tabs on my inbox, schedule the right amount of time for prep/meetings/follow up and just do stuff instead of procrastinating - which I avoid by scheduling time for stuff and sticking to that schedule.
My most useful mind hack is to start small, iterate and test things as I go along, largely because I get interrupted so many times that it makes it easier to start another iteration when I go back to actual work.
I also switch off notifications/email/chat/etc. now and then, although (to try to keep ahead of possible interruptions for the next day) I do check my e-mail in the evenings - but never 1-2h before bed, otherwise I’ll start to stress out and get insomnia (it’s best to cancel or say no to some things in the morning than reply immediately).
I try to keep some things light and humorous, but the e-mail/meeting culture I’m in can be beyond overwhelming.
The worst thing is that I don’t spend enough quality time at home - I’m either working at a customer (usually in a meeting of some sort, which makes it all the less productive) or in my home office most of the time.
I also miss doing full-on engineering. Mentoring and advising customers is the best part of my job, but I get moved around so much I don’t see it come to fruition.
Also, I don't know about work/life balance.. And just try to keep harmony. The future of work is changing in general, and tech is way out there.
It's all about maintaining stamina. Dip too much and you aren't putting back more into the tank than you're taking out.
The 8 hour a day model is largely outdated - from the factory years of physical stamina. Try to rid yourself of this factory schedule and in those around your to focus on becoming more effective and priority based. It's not easy with the world running on it but you want your peace, not the world's distraction, right?
Today's stamina is mental, not just physical. Maintaining my mental stamina and effectiveness is my key goal. I don't get tired mentally as quickly because I am always trying to improve it.
Discipline is the master skill. Building this, followed by an ability to focus and execute. I'd level up on those forever and the effect shows in other areas. Check out Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Quality of time = quality of life. Think about about how effective you are with your time, not just how many hours. Counting hours matters less with experience because you can count results. We have poor standards for our time in our 20s, and it's part of the gift of exploring. Still, when I'm rested I can sometimes get a few hours of work done in an hour.
Be mindful. I use a tool like RescueTime to monitor my laptop and phone time. Any feelings can be backed up with data and adjusted. Hack the hosts file. There's nothing you miss. Use airplane mode liberally when you can on your devices. It's bliss.
The brain sucks. It constantly tries to remember random things you can't do anything about. Use a methodology like getting things one to manage the day to day minutia. Use an app that syncs between phone and laptop and record every random thoght. 2Do is one. Your brain will be free to be effective in the moment.
Roadmap work and personal life. Set yearly, quarterly or monthly goals.. Even high level but clear. For work, build and more importantly maintain a detailed roadmap. It will let you see your progress and be more present with your other areas of life.
You are a product of your time. Track every 15 minutes of time for 2 weeks. It's normal to find time I'm wasting and can be encouraged you can allocate it elsewhere. I cut out mosy TV, Netflix, video games, etc. I watch sports but prefer highlights. When I relax, I stack it and make it an event with my spouse. I try to manage my reading to what I need now or shortly. There is no social media on my laptop, it's all blocked and I do not run social media apps on my phone.
Notifications are the plague. Silence every single app them all except family, friends and things that will rarely ping you.
Health is about demonstrating a practice of sleep, diet, activity and relationships.
Garbage in, garbage out. I try to meal prep for 2 hours, twice a week. Clean, light food is great and I can grab to go whenever I want. Use an instant pot or slow cooker. I do this with my spouse because she happens to enjoy cooking. I'm on with some carbs because my brain seems to like them but there might be room to improve.
Become present. When I push hard and executing I am better at giving myself permission to be present. I still visit my parents most weekends and rarely take out my laptop. Might cheat and read the kindle though if they're watching too much TV. We try to see friends twice a month at least. I find if I really enjoy myself in my personal life for fixed periods of times it is quality of time and not quantity of time.
Always get lots of water and sleep, minimal sugar and caffeine. Don't smoke. I find I have more energy if I don't eat meat every single day but it ought be different for others. I only have a coffee every other day when I remember to when I'm on track. Having 2 coffees in a day is a sign I need to adjust something.
The harder you push the more you need rest.
All of this to say, I expect to work 6 to 12 hours per weekday, and less so on the weekends. Whether this is the personal timings that are work, or work related. It all needs to be done.
I can pull a few really long days each week or an all nighter if it's a must. I break my day into 3 stages of work, First 6 to about 9, then 10am to about 5 and then 7 to about 930 pm. Working towards waking up at 5 am.
The important thing in pushing hard is sleeping lots each night so you don't wear out. Time away from the keyboard is more important than my time at the keyboard.
I'm a hard core a night owl who has become a morning person by telling my brain I can wake up super early with twice as much energy and still enjoy the late night peace.
- Your Favorite President