Really if you are going to go to the extreme of not eating, showering, maintaining your health, zero human relationships, zero rest or time for recovering from illness, then I assume you'd go the next step and just quit the job too to unlock the other 2000 hours. After all if you don't need those other things why do you need a job at all? If you are that extreme you probably can save a years salary then live on a mate's sofa etc.
Edit: Later on she does mention her time budgeting and it isn't this extreme, but I get annoyed with the statements that claim you have 8 free hours a day, implying that you should be working your ass off for those 8.
That means you get something closer to 500-1000 hours a year. Perhaps you can get more if you carefully prune.
That's enough to do stuff, not enough to accomplish a second career.
Put another way, your life might be complicated, but more improvement does require digging a bit deeper than the status quo, so it's still up to you to find or make time/energy to work on things.
I'm in no place to tell you how much time or how to manage it, but you do get out of your time what you put in, and there isn't a shortcut for that.
Mo - Fri:
. Wake up at 5:30 go to the gym (6 to 7.30)
. 7.30 - 9.00 : Shower, breakfast, get ready to work
9. - 9.30 : Commute to work
. 9.30 - 6.00pm : Work
. 6.00 - 6.30pm : Commute to home
. 6.30 - 9.00pm : Tue/Wed: Startup, MWF: Wife
. 9.00 - 10.00pm: Dinner, prepare to sleep
So 5 hours on saturday + 5 hours on Weekdays = 10hrs in total. I wish I had more time.
Can you go to the gym on alternate days? Sometimes, I don't go to the gym for the entire week; instead, work out at home for 20-30 mins - doing bodyweight exercises
No, he's probably like a me and a good half of the population that doesn't naturally wake up early, so when we're forced to, we're very groggy, and it takes a while to get up to speed.
If you're waking at 5am and don't find it taxing, you probably don't have anything to compare this to, hence your inability to empathize.
Coffee’s power to modulate your mood is wildly underrated. Try going without for a month and you will hardly recognize yourself.
I quit coffee 10 years ago. Until then I used to drink 1.5 litres of coffee (0.5 for breakfast, 0.5 after lunch, 0.5 at 6pm).
(Addicted-to-caffeine) People cannot understand that coffee is an anchor and not a sail. After the two weeks of mild headaches (deprivation/body cleaning up) I 'wake up' 5mins after I open my eyes in the morning.
TL;DR there is no single magic solution
I usually spend 1-2 hours every day in the gym. It's usually ~15 mins warming up, ~20-25 mins lifting, ~20 mins of some type of HIIT, ~20 mins of some endurance or sprint training (depending on the cycle), ~20 mins of skill work (olympic lifting or gymnastics), ~10-15 mins of stretching/rolling out.
That's not an obnoxious timeframe.
I think it was mostly just building up to this point of adapting to the schedule. Also, unless I'm training explicitly for some type of competition, I try to not go more than 80% of my max heart rate during most workouts, usually sticking around 70-75%, so I'm not dying everyday.
For lifting, I generally follow a program pretty similar to 5-3-1, which doesn't really have you max out very often (it's extremely gradual, but I've made noticeable lift gains over time).
If I really feel like crap, I just take a rest day or do some mobility work.
6p to 9a: Commute home, read, work on fiction, spend time with wife
9a to 5a: Sleep negative 4 hours
And, assuming you mean 9p, I personally need way more than 3 hours from the exit of the workplace to relax and sleep, esp with trying to have a family dinner and get kids bathed and to bed. Even single I'd need more wind-down time, and before kids I'd need more togetherness time with my partner.
Should I read standing up? :P
> If you're incapable of negotiating a good rate and contract, that's on you.
Its either them. Or it could be that the job market isnt particularely well looking, or economy beeing on a down swing.
Steph stated that even just an hour a day over 365 days will drastically improve your business and or life. That means 3-4 hours per day focused on a few key priorities will provide exponential growth in the areas those priorities cover (and perhaps overs.) That's one of the primary take homes from this article, in my opinion.
I think perhaps you read: burn those eight hours constantly, when Steph never stated that. She even goes as far to explain that "Netflix and Chill" is still a thing, but it's low on the list of time allocated activities.
Even for tasks that don't require deep thought, there is prep work.
Working out? Gotta commute to the gym or at least get changed. Gotta make sure you're not hungry but not full at the same time. Gotta make sure you're hydrated. Gotta make sure you have music ready to go.
Woodworking project? Don't even get me started on that one.
Whoops, you just lost 75% of your 'free time'.
I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but a lot of projects require a lot of prep work and people vastly underestimate the amount of prep work required. At least anything that's complex and sufficiently rewarding to warrant working 365 hours on.
Basically 365 free hours != 365 hours of working on your project.
Some comments from a previous thread:
It's more a mental fatigue. I can't say I'm physically exhausted.
But, would it be possible to immediately go to bed at the end of the day and then get up two hours early?
It would be like me complaining that I'll end up dying alone. Well, duh, self -- you chose to not have kids so you could experience other things.
And people with kids deserve to comment that they don't have that time because if everyone used the 20 something single white male with no kids, no responsibilities, and minimal routine for anything but work, sleep, and a free 8 hours a day, human society would collapse in to a even bigger cesspool of poverty.
Having children is necessary, and important, for our society. It should be fully supported. Not the subject of derision by people with your attitude.
It is fully supported – with tax breaks, and taxpayer-funded education, and paid maternity leave, all of which childless people subsidise but don't benefit from.
It's also still your choice to have kids.
And you're clearly unaware of how much of a gross oversimplification it being a "choice" is.
Nobody complained of little time because of kids. But that assumption was made. It's insulting to suggest I somehow regret having kids due to little time when those kids have become my reason for being. The suggestion I regret my kids for want of hobby time is on one of the biggest insults anyone could make.
That's not to say I believe the comment was malicious or even intended to insult. It's very difficult to understand the huge upheaval in priorities that take over by instinct when you have children unless you've made the decision yourself. For some, it's understandbly too big a sacrifice and that's ok! It is, as you say, a choice.
As an aside, I don't think it's right to boil everything down to financial terms and incentives. If I thought that way, I wouldn't have had one child let alone three. They cost a lot of bloody money.
My attitude is not derisive towards parents. I had parents myself, and I respect their choices. My objection is that parents seem to want to have their cake and eat it too, and then don't acknowledge the significant societal subsidies already in place.
If you had kids, it will be harder to start a side business. That was a trade off the parent chose to make. I choose to have more free time and opportunity.
I think it's entirely appropriate to view having kids as a long-term hobby for the purposes of this discussion.
It does not matter at all whether the kid was choice or not at the beginning.
Chose to have a relationship for 5 or 10 years, your partner moved in and built their life around you? You won't go to jail for deciding that you'd like to allocate the third slot differently now, but it won't generally come without causing a considerable amount of harm. Also counts as "me time" here.
Sure, kids are a long-term commitment, and the consequences are more drastic if you suck at it. That's not the point though - the point is that how you plan out (or fail to plan, or had your partner plan) your non-work time makes a major impact on what you can get done during that time. Had kids, out of choice or for lack of birth control? Say goodbye to the third slot, maybe more, don't get it back for maybe 20 years or so. You had a choice at some point.
They are not hobby time nor me time by any reasonable definition. Charity can be me time, if you can stop when you feel like it is not refreshing you anymore.
The talk about choice in the past is weasel expression. It makes it easy to sound as if people had choice right now, today, when they clearly are not having that choice (at least if you want to stay at least a bit ethical which I admit is a choice too).
It is more about what some people want to believe about world then about what world is.
In terms of accountability, things we choose to undertake and are then responsible for, it absolutely matters whether or not things were a choice.
Also "accountability" here serves only to allow rest of us to use feel good euphemisms, pretend that situations is more fine then it is and make it so people in those situations don't talk openly about issues they are encountering. If people can't "XYZ due to debt they are accountable for", then they can't XYZ. Them having some guilt there does not render statement untrue.
When they're older, I'll have more time. Whilst they're young, I'm enjoying being a present father.
I learned to program by typing someone else's code. My zine series is designed to teach you as you create computer art.
There is a lesson for writers to think about different kinds of readers, and read your post from different reader archetypes point of view.
TFA is saying you have a budget of 8 hours to allocate. The article explicitly states that relationships often consume a large chunk of that budget. It is descriptive, not prescriptive.
This idea that you get to do stuff that others don't (and expect any outcome of significance) while acting like "normal" people do is mind boggling.
If you want more than you have, in any form, you better get comfortable sacrificing: time, relationships, etc.
True. Something has to give. But it doesn't have to be drastic.
1) What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
2) The 4-Hour Workweek
Personally, I dropped reading it when it switched from generic motivational pep talk to praising virtual assistants.
Then there's mandatory things like getting ready in the morning and dinner etc in the evening. That time is constricted even further if you have a family. If you're lucky you have 4 hours, if you're really lucky you still have energy during that time to work on stuff.
8:30 AM - wake up
9:00 AM - go to work at corporate job
9:30 AM - arrive at work at corporate job
5:00 PM - stop working, go home
5:30 PM - arrive at home, run 3-4 miles
6:00 PM - start working on startup
2:00 AM - fight fires, go to sleep
Despite burning out a couple of times, I eventually got to the point where I could quit my job and work on my startup full-time. This didn't end up working out in the end, so it was a huge a waste of time (several YEARS).
At the end of the day, figure out whether your startup and your cofounders are worth the opportunity cost. Engineers can make a lot of money in this market working at FAANG (with a similar financial outcome as an acquihire exit for top talent).
This is controversial: Your startup should AT LEAST get accepted into YC -- that's the litmus test. If it can't even get past those relatively beatable odds, then it's certainly NOT worth it (YC acceptance de-risks things by a factor of 10 just purely based on statistics -- the partners are very smart, they are almost always right with their decision-making in terms of almost never having any false negatives -- but they still have 9/10 false positives, just statistically speaking). So if you DO get accepted into YC, draw the line at the one-year mark and make it firm. Return all the investors' money at that mark, and do something else (i.e. go work for Google).
That's how you know you are not one of the 9/10 failures that still somehow make it into YC. It's a good initial filter in that if you get rejected, you know right away that what you are currently doing is definitely NOT worth your time (and if you disagree, you are likely susceptible to Dunning-Kruger or self-bias -- you really should have been able to convince the partners that you were worth funding over the large pile of crappy applicants, otherwise, the HIGHLY likely scenario is that you do not realize yet why you will fail). For startup funding, the distribution itself is Pareto -- even the second best accelerator has a 10x lower rate of success (and often their successes ended up getting accepted to YC after-the-fact anyways). The VERY BEST investors' opinions are a good barometer for measuring startup success (BUT only if YOU are the founder -- otherwise, the reward portion of the risk-reward curve is below the Pareto Front).
If you can land a FAANG position, you'd have to start a unicorn on your own for it to be worth it (especially if you take in VC funding), so calibrate your success based on that. You can also adjust your risk-reward curve by joining late stage pre-IPO rocketships instead (Wealthfront has a list). Figure out where all the smart engineers are (they cluster) -- that's the winner you should pick. Even running a lifestyle business that generates similar income still probably isn't worth your time as a top engineer because of liquid stock appreciation from FAANG. Real talk: If you can't get accepted into FAANG, then you are in WAY over your head with starting your own unicorn (but doing a lifestyle business as a sole proprietor is probably financially optimal for you).
The absolute worst thing to do with your time is join someone else's early-stage startup with a significantly reduced salary as employee #1 for sweat equity (despite it being a fraction of what the founders have) and build their entire tech stack yourself. This isn't even close to being on the Pareto Front. Don't sell yourself short.
Also, you'll hear the story of that ONE exception who beat all of the odds. But you're a rational person, don't buy into that delusion.
This logic can be nicely collapsed into a probabilistic decision tree.
That’s a very dark / elitist / defeatist view for aspiring founders. Many successful business were started by folks that don’t share your background, can’t make it to YC and we’re not superstar programmers. With enough support, any mildly interesting business idea can thrive (see TechStars with their 80%+ survival rate), so while getting into YC increases your odds massively, being a signal of your worthiness as an entrepreneur is a much more fuzzy matter.
You want to start a unicorn. That's why you are risking your time and your money (and even your health). That's what every investor who gambles away their own money on YOU wants you to do. And look at the qualifications of the successful unicorn startup founders: Stanford PhDs, published mathematicians, 160 IQ -- these types could pass the FAANG bar without even sneezing (they are adding another letter to FAANG!) -- and YC would have invested in all of them (why would PG want to miss the next Google?). As improbable and out-of-reach the YC/FAANG bar might seem to the everyday HN reader, these gateways are child's play for the actual heavy hitters.
Founding a startup is all-or-nothing, and the economy only has room for so many billionaires and triple-digit millionaires. You have to be the absolute best of the best. Just by the numbers, you have to maximize your chances of success, and statistically speaking, the bar is right where it is for a reason.
"Survival" is easy in the startup world. Success is near-impossible hard. It's a poor metric because any founder can live off Soylent and ramen indefinitely clinging onto a nonproductive company that isn't growing (it is all but dead), while ignoring the enormous opportunity cost he or she is personally incurring. Survival in this context really means continuing a hockey-stick trajectory.
You can make single-digit and even double-digit millions over your lifetime doing other things with your time that are less risky and more productive than trying to found a tech startup, even with these qualifications.
That's even more condescending than the previous one - and not the point I was bringing up. The majority of successes are based on product innovation, a new business model, market disruption, strategy, growing a niche. Not tech.
All major capitals around the world have hundreds of thousands of millionaires. London alone has more than 350k. With some luck your description might fit 0.01% of the world's successful entrepreneurs.
Most millionaires aren't entrepreneurs. As a world-class engineer, you can become a millionaire by working for 5 years at Google/finance/big-4 with very little risk. And giving that up to start your own business is really only worth it for founding a breakout trajectory/unicorn startup. People tend to bias themselves and their abilities, but they need to take a realistic look at the profiles of those successful unicorn founders and use that as a yardstick to evaluate their own potential to avoid wasting their time and money.
And I agree with you that tech is necessary but not sufficient for starting a successful unicorn (the line between "tech" and what you describe as "product innovation" is very blurry). This is Hacker News, after all. Tech-focused investments is their thesis.
5% of Londoners are millionaires!?
Bear in mind that these days having a million doesn't make you rich like it used to, or even able to retire much earlier. The line for super-rich is currently drawn at $30M, then there's only ~4.5k people who qualify in London.
Rubbish. You need an idea and to start validating it, learning and iterating, with feedback from your customers.
It's surprising how poorly the Eric Ries mentality applies in practice to the top success stories of the Valley. How many pre-validated customers wanted the Apple I (a hodgepodge circuit board)? Who would've told you they needed to use something like Facebook? Who needs an "operating system" for a niche "personal" computer? Starting a top tech company by definition can't be formulaic. It's more about the vision -- and only people with better "eyesight" can see and realize the future.
I devote Monday through Thursday to working on my business. After work I take an hour to an hour and a half break. Then I work for five to six hours, then thirty minutes break before bed.
Friday through Sunday, I devote to writing, resting, or other things. Honestly it's mostly resting, because I'm way beyond burnt out.
The thing is I'm spent after my work day. I'm making more errors at night, causing more rework and frustration. I was also concerned about layoffs/loss of job. So I was dipping time into job searching.
That's not even getting into the existential what am I doing with my life. I'm early 30s and wasting the bulk of my youth trying to start a company. It's depressing to me to be locked to my computer for 13 to 14 hours a day. I love working on my business idea. But I have music I want to work on, novels, etc. Places I want to see.
This past weekend I went to a weekend startup accelerator. It has been years since I felt like that. My brain was firing on all cylinders, and I was working on a team. The past several years of my career. Have been death marches, and projects that are cancelled mid stream, and I'm flying solo. This is why I want to start a business, but I'm just so exhausted all the time.
I have done the quit and take a few months off in the past. Those were the happiest I've been in my career. But something has yanked me back to a full time job, because I need money asap.
Then the last portion as someone else mentioned. The inane invention assignment clauses. My last role took ownership of everything past, present, and future I thought. Irregardless of medium. My current role tried that, but I got an addendum to the contract. I had a past employer try and sue me because we left on bad terms, and they drowned me in legal fees.
Sure you don't need to quit. But if you want your sanity, and some legal peace of mind it's the best thing.
About 1.5 years into the project I broke my foot (long story) which meant I had to change things, then I had a kid about a year later, which caused me to change again. Both of those were really good developments
What I found is that a far better schedule for me was to spread things out. Now I still put in about 20 hours a week, but it is in the form of 1.5 hours at night on week nights and 6 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday. The Saturday and Sunday time is generally split three ways (morning before family wakes up, kid's nap time, evening after kid goes to sleep) I feel like I get more work done because I have the mental ability to actually work for each of those pieces of time.
Schedule may look different for you, hobbies, family, etc. But I would definitely suggest with exploring smaller pieces of Second Work, especially on week days.
1. Plan specifics and next-steps while watching the kids. This is not to say you should ignore them or anything. An hour of dedicated play with the kids is usually followed by an hour of them playing with each other or doing something independent quietly (super important skills for them to learn IMO). When they are watching Sesame Street or playing with each other I have a note-taking app and Google Docs on my phone. I can plan next steps, write content, manage the project's social media, etc. from basically anywhere while still keeping an eye on the kids. I also make and maintain a TODO list broken down into bite-sized tasks in the note taking app (the default notes app that comes with Android). Using a phone in this way is more rewarding than surfing Reddit/HN anyways, and it will fundamentally change your relationship with your phone for the better.
2. Since most planning is already done (see step 1), when I have dedicated time to work on the project I already have a list of bite-sized tasks I can accomplish. Doing even one tiny task a day adds up way more quickly than you would believe. e.g. I do furniture, so on one day I photograph a completed chair, another day I cut fabric for cushions, etc. Maintained over the long-term, this adds up to a ton of progress without burnout. My guiding philosophy for this is "consistency + effort = improvement".
This system also works great for people with long commutes (assuming you're not driving)!
+100 for this. Our kids just don't. Maybe 5 min, and then "mom! dad!". And we drop everything and go relieve them of their duty to entertain themselves. I feel like this is a failing on our part as parents. And it makes everything worse for everyone.
I'm curious if you have any practical measures you've followed to get past this.
It may help to think of your life as “epochs” or “seasons”. Sometimes you’re in a work period, or in a startup epoch. Another time you’re in a travelling season. It’s easier to split your interests over time than to parallelise in the present. The season idea can be greatly reassuring - “oh, I’m not doing enough music now, but that’s because I’m in a work period. Focus on work, do that, that’s enough. Spare time - rest, recuperate, so I can do better work tomorrow.”
I think there are certainly some benefits of focusing on one thing or epoch, but I do wonder if most of my energy going toward one thing would make me no longer enjoy that particular thing. Regardless, I like the concept and how it perhaps pertains to people's continuous change/growth.
So, I got one of those wake-up lamps and started getting up very early (4-5). I get plenty of time to wake up and then concentrate on my own thing with zero distractions before I head to work at 9-ish.
I have never been a morning person but this arrangement has made me feel more personally fulfilled and happier at work too because I'm not worried about getting home and then having to write, or saving my mental energy for my own purposes.
The only problem is I tend to get sleepy around 9 or so, but I can stay up when I want to and if anything it means I drink less and get more sleep.
I'm not a hard-working, sleep-deprived entrepreneur. I just have a hobby that requires clarity, presence, and focus for me to be happy with the results, and I've found that the morning is the best time for that state of mind.
(1) Get your diet and sleep taken care of. Nothing fancy. Just find something in both areas (diet and sleep) that improves your energy levels and is easy to maintain.
(2) You are working long hours at your current job. Try taking short ~2-5 min. breaks every ~20-30 minutes and attempt a longer break (~10-15 mins.) about every two hours. Your breaks can be as simple as staring at your screen or at your desk and daydreaming. The point is to get your mind off the current task for just a little bit and then step back into your workflow. Ironically, I have found that taking those short ~2-5 min. breaks has often been diffcult because I feel like I can just keep going and my energy levels won't be affected. Rid yourself of that feeling if it comes up. The short breaks have given me a lot more energy daily, weekly, etc.
(3) Find someone to bounce ideas off of for whatever business you are working on. Doesn't need to be a co-founder or a mentor or whatever. Just find someone to talk with about the project you are excited about working on.
(4) Make finding your first customer a top priority. There will be a wealth of benefits (tangible and intangible) for you when you get that first sale; when someone gives you real money in exchange for something you built. If you've already made some sales, then plan and execute on furthering sales and getting more traction (self-evident). I can't stress enough, though, the importance of getting your first customer if you haven't already.
(5) Filter everything for what is relevant, so as to optimize time spent and energy expended. One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me came from my undergrad thesis advisor. I was 21, and up until that point in life typically read all or most of the books I ever started reading. It felt unnatural and awkward to not complete a book, because not doing so seemed like I would miss something important or that I was doing an intellectual disservice to the author.
Together with my advisor, I had selected ~35 books that would form the basis of my research. I still remember sitting excitedly in his office with the books stacked beside his desk, as I looked forward to diving into the research. He told me (paraphrasing), "Look, there is absolutely no need to read all of the material in any of these books. Flip through them to find the portions relevant to your project and disregard the rest."
That was a freeing moment for me, and one which eventually led to a heightened ability to nearly always sift for only what is relevant (regardless of domain, function, project, deliverable, task, etc.).
This damn clause is the bane of my existence. It is the main thing stopping me from pursuing a side project because even if the project succeeds, I won’t own the rights to it anyway.
I’ll probably ask my employer to approve some side projects as independent work and have them excluded from their ownership, but I feel like even asking that question paints me as someone who isn’t dedicated to my full time job. I’ve been at my current company for less than a year so I’ll probably wait a bit longer before submitting the request.
I don't have any commercial projects outside of work but the idea that an employer can claim ownership of something that comes out of my head into my machine in my time is bonkers.
If you want to own the other 8 awake hours of my life after the first 8 you have to double my pay.
I've done that on my last 3 employment contracts and no-one has ever even commented.
A broad exclusive license to and ownership of every line of code I write shouldn't be free after all.
I'd like to do all of those (and have made some movies and music beyond software work), but one has to ask: does the world really need (or could use) more music, novels, and SaaS?
And why would it need mine? Do I have a 1 in 10 million unique take on those things and unique talent? Or am I piling to the rest of the noise?
At some point I think for most the motivation is not some primal urge / can't do without (else they'd be doing it already as their first focus), but just "it would be fancy to write a book/make a movie/release an album".
The results may not be super profound, but the process of creation is self-actualizing and good for the mind.
And while I can understand music, is novels and movies something people routinely non-professionally as a hobby for "self-actualization"? Those are more wannabe lifestyles.
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Most likely several people tried to create the wheel and ideas on what to do with a circular shape were thought of, some cross pollination from physics resulted in it being used for transportation.
So I’d argue it was not done on a sunny day but mostly as an obsession just like most every other game changing idea
Now to make an actual wheel, with spokes and mostly 'hollow' inside and to put it on an axle - would have required better tools, so the wheel was probably created/invented quite naturally alongside the advances in metallurgy.
I don't think the idea is that people should stop investing in the future but that they should enjoy the path to get there as well.
The idea that you should just be unhappy but it will all be worth it once X happens is not good for your well being. Life can be hard and even stressful but that doesn't preclude you from being happy or fulfilled. For example, if you are working your butt off, you can feel happy that you did so.
I started piano at 20 years old which is really old compared to most serious pianists. I practice 4 hours a day despite working full time. I know that it is entirely possible I will never reach the level as the greatest pianists but I try anyway. I think the fact that I am not depending on being great to be happy makes it easier for me to keep going because each week I feel improvement and I know I worked hard and that makes me happy.
I've done a bit of Buddhist study my self and it wasn't for me. It was as if it was telling me to sit still and just relax. Well, I'm keen on relaxing and such, but there's also problems to be solved.
So enjoy the present, be in the moment, but don't neglect the future (or your health) as if it's not going to come.
> After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
-- Zen Proverb
This was just the first google result for 'dalai lama slaves' (no quotes). The West wants to think that Tibet is the the good guy, since China is _obviously_ the bad guy, but it turns out that history doesn't have good guys and bad guys; it has humans, and humans at the top of large-scale traditional hierarchies tend to be cruel to humans at the bottom of those hierarchies. So it goes.
12 Feb 2009 2:55
As Cheese Commando pointed out in the very first comment in this string, Sorrel Neiss did indeed used to work for China Daily in Beijing -- China's English language Pravda.
Ho hum though -- plurality of opinion and all that: we wouldn't want to sink to Beijing's level and censor her, right? (We can correct her though on those waaaay wayward notions of China's hospitals in Tibet, etc.)
As the Dalai Lama himself concedes, Tibet was indeed quite a dark and savage place; many other places in Asia, Africa and Europe were also dark and savage at the same time -- including of course China.
Indeed, the Dalai Lama was on the point of instituting a series of social and governmental reforms in Tibet -- who knows if they would or wouldn't have worked -- when the Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded.
Just so's ya know.
I think that we have major, structural, institutional problems throughout our society and culture that prevent any individual from accomplishing much of anything over the course of a lifetime that is outside the mainstream status quo of participating in a nuclear family.
I think a possible way out of this predicament is shining a light on the smallest of things that prevent us from moving forward.
For example, any student debt at all is a major setback. So our choice is either to not go to school or to work a lot and pay it back fast. This is a false dichotomy. If you flip the problem on its head, you see that this was orchestrated by the owner class to keep people locked into the system (any increase in ignorance being an inconvenience or even politically convenient).
The layout of our cities highly encourages car ownership, another huge cost. The fossil fuel industry gets billion dollar subsidies while renewables do not. We no longer have the room in population centers to grow our own food. We don't have the disposable income to build robots to automate something like that. Even dating requires cashflow.
Everywhere we look, at every level, we are blocked. So I think something more useful than borrowing the hours and minutes of our leisure time for risky ventures might be to form a vision of how we'd like our society to be. Name each problem and attack it head on.
I don't mean to downplay the article because it has very good points about self-discipline. But I would very much like to see us all start succeeding, because if we try to do it alone, we will fail.
Europe is not notably more full of successful makers than the US.
(As for growing food - it would take you a lot more time to grow enough to feed yourself than it would to earn enough to buy the food you need to feed yourself)
First let's get the obvious out of the way: you have to earn money somehow to live. Linus Torvalds hasn't spent the last 20 years living in a ditch. He monetized his work on Linux to his own benefit, as any sane person would do.
Prominent US examples of makers/creators in that mold: Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, Michael Stonebraker, Brian Behlendorf, Bill Joy, Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Brendan Eich, John Resig, Ian Murdock, Richard Stallman, Brad Fitzpatrick, Keith Bostic, Paul Vixie, Jon Postel, Eric Allman, Larry Wall, Marc Ewing, Ray Tomlinson, Alan Kay, Robert Metcalfe, Douglas Engelbart, Donald Knuth, Thomas Kurtz, Larry Tesler, John McCarthy.
One would have to include the contributions by Leonard Kleinrock and Lawrence Roberts. They were critical to making the Internet happen.
Blake Ross and Dave Hyatt broke the IE monopoly with Firefox, an enormous contribution. Dave also has several other relevant contributions.
Matt Mullenweg was instrumental in the creation of WordPress (and the WordPress Foundation), which runs 1/4 to 1/3 of all sites.
John Carmack open sourced the id engines, which was a particularly abnormal thing to do at the time. Especially given their commercial value and the fact that id was in competition with countless other developers to lead the way on cutting edge 3D tech. His open technical contributions to the industry are immense, possibly larger than anybody else in gaming history.
Jimmy Wales created Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation. There have been few greater positive contributions in the history of the Web than Wikimedia.
These examples keep going.
Linus Torvalds also happens to have spent the last two decades living in the US and is an American citizen. Only five years after he began work on Linux, he moved to the US. Out of the ~28 year history of Linux, for 22 of those Linus has worked on it in the US.
By your own premise, the best maker you offered up, prefers being in the US and has spent the vast majority of his adult life building in the US.
Stallman though I will grant you. Even with his academic 'support' he is clearly giving heart and soul without any desire for compensation.
I have heard that openstreetmap in Europe has flawless coverage but in America its fairly bad.
It's not quite that simple. OSM in Germany is very good, but Google Maps is still popular. OSM in many other European countries is pretty good, and better than Google maps, but in those places Google Maps is still very popular in general. OSM in some other European countries is rubbish.
If you think about any large project you know - say a business - they are highly networked systems. They have partnerships and vendors and customers and employees and investors and external deadlines and internal deadlines.
In other words, they become deeply embedded in a "fabric" of connections. Once you become part of the ecosystem - and people rely on you - it becomes harder to just quit.
I have always thought that if you want to build a business, build a network (and not just one of people). Integrate with as many entities as possible. Have them share a vested interested in your success; have them depend on you and vice versa. The more you dig into the system, the harder you are to get out. This prevents startups from dying.
The idea here is to create a complex adaptive system - it adapts no matter what you throw at it. These are established by creating a highly networked systems (ie. creating relationships) with other adaptive entities who are aligned with your goals. The more of these you create, the harder it will be to get rid of you (this is true even if your startup is not particularly good). Again, the goal here is to become embedded in the network.
I've written about this topic (more abstractly) here: https://alexpetralia.github.io/2018/06/11/NL-2018-06-11.html
This advice only works if your side project and your day job aren't equally intense ie. if you're programing for your day job and your side project involves more programming, you will burn out. You can pretend that you relax with even more programming, but your body will disagree.
To make this work beyond a few months or a year as a programmer, you will either need to do an easier side project where ideally you're not doing the programming; or better yet you will need a very easy day job that doesn't use up the bulk of your daily creativity and problem solving stamina. Yes, it is a finite resource. The true ideal situation is being able to work on your personal projects during down time at your day job...
Also as someone else already mentioned, read your employment contract. Outside of places like California, the IP portions of that contract are draconian ie. your employer will own any idea that you generate whether it is on the job during office hours, or in your sleep or free time at home. This is even more important to keep in mind if you work remotely even just part of the time.
Then as stated in the article, only work on the side project for an hour a day over 365 days. Time is on your side and it's OK if it takes a year to get to an MVP. Look at Stardew Valley, for example.
> better yet you will need a very easy day job that doesn't use up the bulk of your daily creativity and problem solving stamina. Yes, it is a finite resource.
This is a fair point. That being said you can always focus on side projects that aren't related to the day job (and in some cases that might have to be the case contractually.) For example I'm a DevOp by day, but my business is moving into VR.
That's actually not true. According to the GQ interview:
"It took him four and a half years to design, program, animate, draw, compose, record, and write everything in the game, working 12-hour days, seven days a week."
Stardew Valley is the antithesis to the article. Eric Barone worked full time on the game while his girlfriend supported him.
imo if you're programming, it'll take a lot longer to finish anything if you're only doing it in 1 hour daily increments vs a few hours in a single day a week. Flow is important. That's not counting the mental stamina that's been drained by the day job.
The other scenario that can happen is that your performance at your day job will suffer, if you continue programming after your typical 10-14 hour programmer work shift.
I never said it took him 12 months to complete the game. I never stated he worked on the game on the side. My point is simply that it's OK for something simple to take a long time; it's OK to work on something over a long period of time, on the side or otherwise.
If you want to make something and it takes five years: OK. If you want to make something and it takes five months: OK. The point is: do it, and do it by managing time better and staying focused.
That's exactly the comparison I want: he took his time and demonstrated that it can be done give the time available to us. If you can only give six hours, then I guess it would take eight years. There's also another lesson to be learnt here: don't do everything form scratch :P
> and their family/girlfriend supported them
I'd replace a girlfriend that doesn't support me; I'd disconnect from a family who doesn't support me.
He worked on something over a long period of time knowing simply that it's OK for something to take time to complete. He understood the challenges ahead and planned his days accordingly.
The point of the Steph's article isn't to only think inside of eight hours, but to think about time management, patience, focus, and other key aspects as a whole, to get the better picture of the path forward.
It doesn't matter if it takes four months or forty years to make a project: it's making it that counts.
The unknowns where how much time it would take a single developer to make such an ambitious project and the degree of the payoff.
It actually runs counter to your point and aligns with mine better. His day job as an usher was not mentally draining compared to his work on Stardew Valley
And with an hour a day it would have taken fifty years...
I've actually had the situation where I was blocked from getting paid for tutoring on Codementor.io because it was "getting paid on the side to use skills and know-how that is part of his job".
Of course, this probably doesn't apply for things like bike shops or other types of maker activities that aren't technical. It also probably doesn't apply for pro bono things like open-source contributions.
[EDIT]: added "probably doesn't apply" since it seems like in some cases it can cause problems.
During onboarding someone asked about building a table and selling the plans and were told that "they would definitely need to talk to legal".
That's pretty broad. This doesn't even say "relating to your job", just "intellectual properties... conceived, developed or written by Employee... during the term of this Agreement".
Most businesses need you more than you need them. Choose wisely and negotiate.
1: Yes, I have tried the cute “cross out that section yourself and initial it” trick. The response from legal was a stern, unambiguous “Sign it unmodified or GTFO!”
I feel like this is so misleading and makes people feel like they need to quit their jobs in order to be successful in making side projects or businesses. In general, I feel like we need to eliminate dichotomies in life.
So I wrote from another point of view: one that I am currently living, working FT and building side projects. In many ways I think it's:
2) Perhaps the most healthy and thoughtful approach.
Interested to hear other people's thoughts. Do you really need to quit your job to build a successful business?
It's really about not being financially independent that keeps me at my job but I can't see why you'd stay at your current job if you can afford to quit and focus entirely on your new venture.
To me it doesn't feel like a healthy option to be essentially working a part time job on top of your normal job while also trying to maintain balance in your life, there simply isn't enough time for it all.
Maybe this is crazy, but it almost feels like getting fired with a severance (something most of the big companies do, but not something you'd get from a startup I'd imagine) would be a blessing in disguise because you'd have a steady stream of income for a couple months allowing you to focus 100% on getting off the ground.
Of course if it doesn't take off then you'll have egg on your face and be in a much much worse position.
edit: It looks like most people are talking about doing this to build a unicorn billion dollar business, but I'm talking just generally I guess in regards to starting a new business.
On the other hand, keeping a day job and modest lifestyle enables a broader range of success where you build stuff on your own terms that maybe makes a few bucks or improves someone's life, but without the pressure to go big. The vast majority of ideas can't become massive corporations, but a lot of them might change the world in a much more positive way if you can find a way to take money out of the equation.
Not every company needs to be next Fb/Google/Amazon. Nothing wrong with having revenue in millions and not billions if you are profitable.
I don't want to assume anything, but from what you've said, it seems like scaling his time up and down as needed would've been very easy.
People with hardset 35 - 40 hour / week jobs where they aren't their own boss can't really scale time commitments that easily.
Otherwise, I definitely agree.
Until the law is changed so that companies don't own things developers make like that, there are many people that lose the motivation to make things in their free time.
It has worked so far. A previous one has left for consulting gigs, after a few months trying his gigs under my umbrella company. That was the best « smooth transition », he saw for himself, I got a ~20% cut, and now he’s dying under paperwork to create his own company (we live in France, which explains why it would have been even harder for him to create his company when he was unsure he liked it), and I have set a nice example of « promoting » which helps me recruit.
Employees are not owned. They were where I was 10 years ago. People change jobs. It’s part of the success of a career. They go through our companies but I’m tired of employers acting like their employees don’t exist after the end of their period or as if they owned property.
If job hunting isn't realistic for you, at the very least you should have a serious conversation with your boss. The next time you are up for a promotion or a raise, hand them a copy of 2870 and say "that's nice, but this is what I really want".
Print it out. Bring it up in your 1-on-1's. At the very least, make sure your boss isn't surprised as to the reason why you eventually jump ship.
In my opinion this post is fundamentally biased due to the author professional situation. From what I understand she currently works « remotely » meaning she doesn’t spend 2H commuting per day.
Hence she seems to be a « lead xxx » at toptal.
That’s great for her. I’ve worked for many large corporations , every where I went « lead » means you are generally not in « touch » with the operational reality of what the job is about.
So often as a lead your job is basically to keep a spreadsheet with people reporting to you because supposedly you understand what they do and can solve their issues if they have some.
Maintaining a spreadsheet is fairly easy, on the other hand solving 10 years legacy code without any sort of documentation is a competely different topic.
This is a well know issues in modern societies , where the higher you go in the hierarchy the less people are actually working and the more are actually doing bureaucracy and the more you are disconnected from reality.
I don’t see how an engineer in a service company working 40-50 hours per week can have any sort of motivation during his weekends to create something new while he just gave every bits of his brain for 5 days straight trying to fix someone else’s bugs , issues and legacy code.
This is an example of course, but I’m sure many people on HN are on this situation. They just stay at this job because it pays theirs bills or they can’t anything better but they just wish they had their own business doing something completely different.
Reading this type of article somewhat buggers me. I guess a « content writer » can probably work on a side project on his free time but what about the lower worker class ? What about the higher class like surgeons , lawyers etc..
These peoples often already work on the weekends to complete the work they were assigned... now they should also start a company on the side ?
Some job are more demanding than others , this is why some people must quit if they want to succeed.
I too have encountered leaders who operate in the way you described, but I think it's actually a really unfortunate viewpoint to have of leaders overall.
One of the key points of the article is that you do have more time than you think. This amount of time varies per person based on their life, but I would argue that everyone does have at least 30 minutes per day that they could re-allocate to something more effective.
Some of the most successful people I know spent a few years in 'coast mode' jobs. Where they received large salaries to maintain spreadsheets of other workers and fake work meetings. These roles offered them ample downtime to study, plan, research, network and invest in personal growth projects without having to sacrifice much leisure time.
Granted the article has some fundamental tips, the author seems to be biased in one of these situations.
Try doing some real programming and it becomes very tiring after the days end. Having any energy to do something after work becomes incredibly difficult.
8 hours of "me time" means:
- you spend no time getting ready
- you work part-time or work remotely and have no commute
- you don't cook and multitask while you eat
- you never take breaks
- you don't exercise
- you either don't live with a family/special other/pet or spend no time with them
The median human being doesn't live like this.
+ grocery shopping
+ speaking to / visiting friends and family
+ paying bills, getting insurance quotes, remortgage paperwork, etc
+ budgeting and managing personal finances
For me, I'd rephrase it as:
every individual could scrape a minimum of 1 hour to allocate to “me time”.
So that's what I work with.
I have two jobs. I am normally a full time developer with a major bank and a part time officer in the Army, though right now I am full time Army. I also have a spouse and two teenage children. Yet, I still manage a couple of moderately large open source applications.
The most important realization is that not every minute of your day is actively occupied just because it is budgeted. You have empty time here and there, and sometimes a huge ton of it. Use it. If I am not actively engaged at work I think of my open source projects. If I cannot work on my open source projects at work, due to policy restrictions or security barriers, then I work on self-education. Right now I cannot work on my software at my military job, so instead I am reading educational material and studying for PMP so that I can focus on writing software outside the office.
A huge mistake I have made recently is sacrificing exercise for increased personal software writing time in the morning. When I first made this decision a few months ago it made sense, because I was supremely focused on shipping the next major version of one of my apps. I used this extra time wisely and was able to push my app out the door. That was 6 weeks ago. Now that extra time in the morning is largely wasted and I am gaining weight. I still have more software to write, but I have lost the necessary focus to use this extra time wisely. It is easier to be well focused when you are in better shape, high energy, and are living at a high state of wellness.
One is that everyone, like the author, is starting from a 'clean slate'. This is an extremely privileged position. Almost no one in this country is completely out of debt AND mentally/physically healthy AND able to 'choose' to not commute to work.
Another is that everyone has, or can afford, an appropriate 'makerspace' in their place of residence.
Finally, this article simply takes the 8 hour workday for granted, rather than asking the extremely obvious question: Yes, Robert Owen did coin the phrase "Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest", in 1817. With labor productivity skyrocketing since then, why have we not reduced this, even to 6 hours?
630a - 8a: get myself ready, get kids ready
8a - 630p: commute and work (yes, the author does say she eliminated her commute, but this isn't feasible for everyone)
630p - 8p: dinner, get kids to bed
8p - ~9p: dishes, general cleanup, pay bills, etc...things most adults have to do to live
9p - 1030p: 1.5 hours of "me" time if we're going for 8 hours of sleep...no, more like...
9p - 12a: really the only window I have to live. often spent doing more work and really, usually too brain dead to start a side project. again, adulting and parenting are hard and energy intensive. Netflix sounds really good at this point.
1030p - 630a: 8 hours of sleep (haha - i'm really trying to live somewhat of a life so 1130/12 is a more regular bedtime)
I've been considering the 10p bedtime/5a wake up so I can do side projects in the morning, but this still only adds 1.5 hours of time for a total of 3 hours a day.
3 hours per day, 5 days a week for an entire year is 720 hours. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And it's not like you need to always do it. Try it out, see if it is for you, worst case you cross the idea off your list.
Maybe a polarizing opinion, but if you put yourself in a box that “doesn’t have enough time” just because you have a commute, are a parent, [insert other excuse here], then it’s the equivalent of sitting at the start line and watching everyone, even the walkers, tread ahead. It's okay if that's what you want, but it is a choice.
I would guess in an average week, I have about 5 quality hours where I do not have an obligation to someone or something else and am able to spend it as I see fit.
As a New Years Resolution, I've been getting up at 5:30 each morning to get 1.5 hours to do my own thing in the mornings, and so far it's been going well. I would still like more time, but constantly getting small amounts done is a great motivator.
I also start a new job in a few weeks that is 4 days a week so I can spend a full day each week on my project. I'll take a small financial hit, but I'm hoping that will be enough to get something worth shipping out the door. If it all goes up in flames, I can always go back to full time without having risked too much.
Just a suggestion. It has worked for me before, but I am with you in general. Most days in the 1.5 hr "me" time that I have, Netflix/Hulu on the couch/chair with an IPA sounds pretty great at that point :)
I'm all about self improvement, side-projects, etc, but his numbers start with the bullshit assumption that someone who spends 8 hours at work is instantly free as soon as the clock strikes 5.
This is one of the things I noticed as well. About a year ago I started commuting via commuter rail (Boston), and my side project productivity sky rocketed.
I'm guaranteed a seat, and room to put my laptop on my lap for two 1 hour intervals, 5 days a week.
This is an option not many people have, especially in the US.
Previously I've commuted by driving (obviously can't get much coding done then), and subway (too crowded to pull out a laptop). By the time I got home, I'd have already worked at least 8 hours, and spent 2 miserable hours commuting. I was tired, hungry, and hadn't gotten any side project work done.
Now at least I can get 2 good hours in every day, and that productivity momentum sometimes will carry in to the evening now as well, since I'm already in the thick-of-it when I get home. But even if it doesn't I'm working 10 hours/week on something I enjoy, and can easily see steady progress in it. It doesn't even matter how much time I'm able to make for myself when at home now.
> This is an option not many people have, especially in the US.
Yeah. Those of in the Bay Area are stuck with CalTrain. You're not guaranteed a train (passengers are regularly "bumped", or denied boarding and told to wait for the next train, particularly bikers), let alone a seat; the trains are just incredibly oversubscribed / underprovisioned.
Also, IIRC, doesn't the MBTA commuter rail also offer free WiFi? CalTrain does not, and cell reception along the CalTrain corridor is flaky at best and outright terrible in some spots (San Antonio — Palo Alto…)
(The T, and the commuter rail, are compartively well run, IMO, and one of, if not the best, public transit systems in the nation.)
Does MA have anything close to CA's legal requirements that employers don't own employee's work when done on their own time with their own equipment? (I.e., does your employer require you to sell your soul to them?)
But still sitting in traffic ~2 hours a day was completely non-monetizable for me, and at the time monetization potential was important to me and this was a total waste.
Now of course, people in the bay area were telling me "wow a 40 minute commute you are so lucky", as many do 1.5-3 hour commutes one way, or they work longer than 8 hours to avoid traffic - for the same salary they would get if they worked less than 8 hours/day for these companies.
But I don't compare myself to them, to the average, its a non-factor for my goals, and I do have luxury of not being subscribed to a commute and was able to quickly remedy the situation. At the expense of no longer working at that job at that high salary.
I'm pretty sure there's plenty of jobs/careers that this type of thinking wouldn't work at, but to counter that, there's also plenty more where it would.
Not once were you told during the article that all eight hours have to be dedicated to working, i.e. wake and grab your laptop and start hacking.
Obviously the author is more intelligent than that and understands people need to poo, get ill, or sometimes want to hit the cinema. That's made clear in the article also.
I think your conclusion misses the point that you're meant to take that eight hours and use what you can of it to focus on goals. That's why Steph points out that just one hour of work towards a goal over 365 days has a compounding, exponential result.
It's also not a solution for everyone. Take it or leave it.
Her. Not just men are becoming makers. :)
edit: That said, I still suggest you don't quit your day job. With the caveat of you should quit your day job if you have savings\runway\revenue\funding to do so, and you'll be ok with your project going nowhere and returning back to a regular day job after that runway expires.
You don't believe in upbringing?
But surely the basic principles of organization and removing distraction can also be applied to those with kids? Kids are time consuming but not all-consuming, I suppose unless you don't have a partner to help out.
It's about the choices you make.
Not as a challenge to you, but just out of curiosity, how old were your kids when you started the latter business? I have an infant now and it's hard to imagine having time at all to do anything outside of work. There just isn't that sort of time. When I was "just" in a relationship or married, I didn't have any problems putting time and energy into both founding a startup and even engage in side projects (even as I work on my startup). Having a baby is a whole new story. I imagine things will get better as kid grows older -- probably better at school age, and then even better at high school/college age. But it'll be a long time. Maybe 15 years later like you said.
I got a lot of reading done when my kids were infants. Way more than I do now, which is almost none. There's a good long span when you can just read them whatever, since they don't know WTF is going on anyway. Great time to knock a few titles off your own to-read list (yes for the record I did also read them plenty of picture books and such).
After they started school. The wife started looking at turning a hobby into a business. A couple pivots along the journey, and it wasn't until last year that we hit on something solid (so about 4 years later, so obviously an "overnight" success). It's still a lot of work, and it's by no means guaranteed, but it's off to a great start.
It's also turning into something else we can build.
What does this require? A desire to make it happen. My wife is the one who deserves the credit. We are here because of her desire to build something. But it's that balance between kids in school and working after they go to bed, and still finding a way to balance work and life. Again, it comes down to choices.
One more minor note, both of our kids have autism, and one is non-verbal, so it's not like they are self-sufficient (the younger one is moreso).
And yes, having a baby is going to impact you right now. It's fine. Use this time to enjoy life. =)
Children are wonderful, but they do not need your constant, undivided attention. I actually think it's better right now with a newborn. Once she starts walking and crawling. She'll need more monitoring.
Also I think it would be even more difficult as a mother.
I have friends whose parents switched careers by studying or working late, and I know some junior developers who are parents who taught themselves to code. So obviously just because you have kids doesn't mean you can't do anything else with your free time. You just have to make choices with your time management, I guess. But I don't know, I don't have kids :-)
I only have one child. I get about 2.5 hours / day to myself (after his bed time, he's only five.) I could certainly spend that time programming, but at this point it's just not what I want to do. I'd rather learn something else or just be a lazy bum.
You can't have your cake and eat it too. It's all doable; my mother worked and went to law school with two children. But it's hard, and most people who say they want to do X but don't have time simply don't want to make the sacrifices doing X would require. People do the same with all sorts of things. Exercise is a big one. "No time" really means "I don't want to spend 30 minutes working out."
We all find time for the things that are important to us.