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Expecting programmers to problem solve for 8 hours is stupid
123 points by sake on July 5, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 78 comments
I recently started a day job where I'm expected to work a normal 8 hour workday. No one is holding me accountable that I stick to that so it seems the requirement is more of a formality, but that's besides the point.

As I've experienced trying to keep up this 8 hour work, I've come to realize that sticking to this old assembly line convention makes absolutely no sense for our field of work. On a good day I can work even 12h+, but usually my limit is somewhere around 4 and ½ hours. And after six hours I'm just burning myself out trying to force myself to focus. At 8 hours I can feel physical pain and it will take me whole evening to recover when I get off the clock.

It's silly how many companies are still sticking to this old rule. Nobody wins when employees are wasting their time being inefficient. If the 8 hours workday is actually enforced, employees will just come up with coping mechanisms against the stress the overly stretched workday is causing them and they will end up loosing motivation.

Conservative improvement would be working 6h * 5 + 4h on Saturday (remotely), which would make employees more efficient, mentally healthy and that's 6 hours less work time per week.

My first software manager said that the most you can get out of people is five hours of real work a day. She also said that programmers need to learn to tell when the most productive thing they can do is go look out the window.

It depends. 22 years here. I’ve had stretches of months I did 16 hours a day of programming, including weekends.. Literally roll out of bed, code, eat while coding, sleep. Most productive I’ve ever been, was in a complete flow state. Was my choice though, not mandated.

These days I do it for 8 hours or so, and not on weekends, other than weekend / weeknight research. This is remotely though, so it’s easy to get in the flow state.

In an office, forget about it. Those days are about team building, relationships and planning. I don’t expect to get much coding done on those days.

But if you’re tired, definitely take a break. If you can truly achieve a flow state 8 hours passes in what feels like 10 minutes. It’s such a cool and strange phenomenon.

But for it to work you have to be intentional. Mute slack, close email. Batch those at the end of the day if possible.

Nothing like the feeling of being super productive and getting tons of high quality, high leverage work done from the flow state.

I’m lucky in that my manager is very smart and “gets it”, because he’s been there too.

I think many of us were at this place once. I did as well during my 20s. Now, I'm in my early 30s and I've found that working for couple days for e.g. 12+ hour long straight will lead me to a huge lag of energy that I'll be recovering from for a longer amount of time that I've spent of working.

30+ year programmer here. This is absolutely true. Some days you cause more damage then progress, forcing you to spend still more time correcting it.

My supervisors understand that some days I'm not going touch code, instead I'll spend my time on education by keeping up with new tech, or, writing docs.. anything but talk with other co-workers distracting them

> My supervisors understand that some days I'm not going touch code, instead I'll spend my time on education by keeping up with new tech, or, writing docs.. anything but talk with other co-workers distracting them.

Couldn‘t agree more. There are days I spend exclusively reading and thinking. I regard keeping up on technology, thinking about potential approaches and solutions to various problems we’re facing as an essential part of my job. To an outsider that might look like a pretty relaxed work life, but this kind of preparation allows the actual execution, the thing that looks like work, to be the easiest part of a project.

> There are days I spend exclusively reading and thinking.

And you admit to do so openly at your daily agile meetings?

Because for me, the problem is that every day I am expected to produce some code, and reading is something... that is kinda supposed to happen... but at the same time it is also not supposed to actually take time, at least not on the scale of days.

Admittedly, I'm in a comfortable position that allows me to be very liberal with how I spend my time at work. I'm a developer at a small company that isn't focused on tech, but manufactures physical porducts - there aren't any agile meetings and to the rest of the staff that kind of work looks like black magic.

That's the problem with daily standups, they're micro-management.

Take some time out of problem solving and put it to other uses.

For example:

- document systems

- write tests

- improve automation (build systems, helper scripts, etc.)

- clean your desk

- talk to a coworker

- read / watch material online related to your work

- go for a quick brisk walk

- any activity to further a long-term career plan

I know that feeling of short-term daily burnout. It is often I get to 4:30pm and I feel my concentration lagging. The trick is to give yourself permission to set aside the work you are doing. You can do this by finding some other activity that is useful other than facebook/reddit.

As an engineering manager I use that time to shift focus from short term (e.g. a feature I am implementing) to long term (what kind of stuff do I want the team to focus on within the next 6 months).

At least 5 of those 8 require problem-solving. Arguably 7 of them do.

I'm not sure I understand how doing those things would ease mental fatigue? Perhaps by at least breaking up the monotony?

I think sometimes some of these can be great strategies for relieving your mind from more difficult tasks. For me documenting or writing tests isn't a real mental break, but it sometimes feels like one if I've been hacking away at a tough problem for 4 hours.

It isn't complete relief like going for a walk but it can be a better use of your time.

I found working in labour jobs the same. Say you're packing sacks of cement up a hill for 2 hours to a lot with bad access, and you're burnt out. You've got another 2 hours of hauling sacks to go, or you could take a break and paint some siding. If you push through the cement job you're going to be really burnt out today and probably tomorrow too, and if you paint the siding, you'll recover a little and feel way better today and tomorrow. Work will still get done though. If the job is urgent and taking a walk isn't really an option, painting the siding is your best bet.

I'm not sure how talking to coworkers, going for a walk or cleaning your desk could be classified as problem solving but I admit everyone sees things differently. I feel quite relaxed while reading online technical articles, it feels to me nothing like problem solving. If it does cause you stress or mental fatigue then please consider another activity.

The real point is there are many things one can do while in the office that can provide distraction from mental stress while still being valuable. I would argue against a definition of "problem solving" as literally anything that happens while within the walls of an office.

> brisk walk

This is what I do. And it works wonders. Sitting the whole day in front of a computer can literally fry your brain. But I take a quick walk, and it resets. I start seeing things clearly. New ideas come to mind. If my coworkers see me they probably think I'm slacking off. But the fact is, it's often the most productive time of the day.

I routinely send Amazon packages to a locker downtown instead of my house so I have someplace to walk to mid day when I really need it.

There's a funny/weird dynamic with this. We all need to appear like we work as much as everyone else appears to. Looks like your teammate puts in 9 hours per day? Well you do too. Otherwise you'll look like a slacker, even though both of you get five or six hours of work done. If everyone did it, it'd be fine and you'd both get hours of time back to do anything else.

What's weird is that this dynamic affects workplaces too. If you are in an org that actually lets people work great flexible hours you won't advertise it too much, for fear of attracting workers whose primary goal is to slack, or getting a reputation an org of slackers. And if you're a job hunter who cares about this, you can't really dig in to asking about the hours everyone is expected to work for fear of being perceived as a slacker.

Nobody can be open about it (orgs or teammates or applicants) and thus the problem persists.

It can be helpful in those situations to join a team you learned about from someone in your professional or friend network. That way you can ask questions without being penalized.

Dishonesty is the one true God. What you say can and will be used against you.

> If you are in an org that actually lets people work great flexible hours you won't advertise it too much, for fear of attracting workers whose primary goal is to slack, or getting a reputation an org of slackers.

This reminds me of: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/01/neutral-vs-conservativ...

> The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.

The common idea is that if there is a norm that everyone follows, and you visibly deviate from the norm in some direction, it will disproportionately attract people who extremely care about that direction, even if you only wanted a minor change.

The difference between working 8 hours a day and working e.g. 7 hours a day is not that dramatic, but if all jobs require 8 hours and you are the only job who requires 7 hours, then all people who want to work as little as possible will run to you, because you are the best option available for them. But you didn't want the people who want to work as little as possible; you wanted people who think that 7 hours is appropriate. People who believe that 7 hours a day are best would have been happy at your company, but instead you will be full of people who would actually prefer to work 4 or 2 hours a day, and while your offer is better than the alternative, they will still be unhappy. So instead of getting happier employees, you will actually get less happy ones.

If instead the job market offered the full spectrum: jobs with 8 hours a day, jobs with 7 hours a day, jobs with 6 hours a day... and perhaps even jobs with 1 hour a day (with proportionally smaller salaries, I suppose), then offering a position that requires 7 hours a day would attract exactly the people who prefer to work 7 hours a day, no more, no less. Unfortunately, this is not the current situation.

And I have no idea how to get from "here" to "there". The incentives seem set up so that anyone who moves away from the current equilibrium gets punished. (And in a parallel universe, where the norm is 9 hours, or 7 hours, anyone who moves away from that equilibrium gets punished.)

Also, if people pretend to work 8 hours a day, but they actually work 6 (and spend 2 hours watching cat videos), then if you say you want to work 6 hours a day, people will assume it means 4 hours of work and 2 hours of cat videos. Why shouldn't they assume you are just as hypocritical as anyone else?

Honestly, that's kind of what I've begun to think of (axiomatically) as where government needs to step in. When society's collective interest is in an equilibrium which it's no one's individual interest to move towards, the incentives need changing.

I have no idea how to fix it, but you're spot on that you can't change it individually unless it's all at once. Or if we somehow figure out a better incentive structure so that individual and collective best decisions match.

I could imagine some collective action not organized by government, for example to write a "6-hour day manifesto", share it on networks, have people sign it, wear t-shirts, choose a day when you celebrate the idea... i.e. gradually introduce the idea to the general public. (Perhaps even edgy t-shirts, such as "I only work 6 hours a day, but I spend 8 hours at work to appear busy. And so do you.") So that people notice that others share their opinions.

Sometimes memes have power (but it is difficult to engineer them properly). I believe that jokes contributed to the fall of Soviet Union, so perhaps jokes could make 8-hours day go away. Just imagine if average people would start saying: "So, you also work at a company where people pretend to work 8 hours a day? Me too." Maybe if laughter became an automatic reaction to saying "8 hours", something would change.

You're expected to be at work for ~8 hours, not to problem solve for that long. (Hopefully, if you're at a half-decent company). You have email and chat to manage, stand-ups, other meetings and calls, coffee breaks, lunch. Most people can set up their day in a way that they can be productive without feeling like they need to be constantly 100% concentrated.

Some people prefer working intensely, some people don't. So why demand 8h of presence from everybody as long as the work gets done?

From my experience, policies of being in the office for <x> hours significantly reduces productivity, as people spend more time trying to fill their days instead of doing the work.

Regardless, it's patronising to effectively treat highly paid professionals like children with dumb, simplistic rules, and morale will also suffer appropriately.

> So why demand 8h of presence from everybody as long as the work gets done?

Because butts in seats will always be an easy metric? Companies love easy metrics, they are safe and considered "fair" / "objective" (numbers are objective, values ascribed to them or derived for them will always be subjective but companies love to confuse the two).

> So why demand 8h of presence from everybody as long as the work gets done?

The inability to manage and unreasonable expectations. Good managers are rare. Hold on to them like your life depends on it when you find them. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

no one works in a vacuum. people need to communicate and collaborate, even when the work is prescriptive. core hours requirements stem from making sure that there are times when everyone can have rich, immediate interactions. not from childish supervision.

"There needs to be some time when everyone is here, so that we can talk" does not imply "you need to be here for 8 hours a day".

In theory, you could have a job where the core hours are just 4 hours a day (most coders do not spend more time having rich interactions), and if you succeed to get your work done, you can leave afterwards.

I'm a project manager and I am very relaxed about working hours and remote work. And it's because I have been monitoring my own programming habits for years and came to a conclusion that it is as much a creative process as it is technical execution. Depending on the complexity of the problem at hand, one hour of programming (monitored with wakatime) usually includes two to three hours of reading documentation, going through source to hunt a bug or planning a feature you are implementing. So I usually set up the tasks as milestones, usually bugs that we have to crush or features we have to implement, usually we have a pretty good pace on projects and people seem to be way more productive than other places I have worked that had a stricter culture.

Now this is my first time as a project manager, but I have set things up the way I would want to work, and I have had positive feedback from my team and management. So I'm pretty pleased with how things are going, YMMV depending on how everything is set up so don't take this as an advice.

My last job, an msp, expected 100% of our time to be billed out. You didn't get lunches or breaks.

If you got your work completed quicker so that you could hit the washroom or go for lunch, you were rewarded with more work.

Furthermore, I was on-call 24x7 and near daily would be called for help afterhours. This wasn't smb stuff exclusively. This was federal governments, hospitals, prisons, fortune 100s. All of which who have fees for downtime around $10,000-15,000/hour.

During my performance review, I got chewed out for have >40 lates. I called bullshit on this. My boss pulled up our time accounting system and turns out all except 1 were weekends. I worked at least 1 day out of >40 weekends in the previous year and I was being chewed out for it... seriously.

Then there was workplace politics; 2 other techs had been fighting for years prior to me even being hired. I had to regularly work with 1 of the techs and when he would rant about the other tech I'd just node and ignore the whole thing.

For whatever reason, the other guy took it as if i was on that guy's team and he started harassing me. I basically ignored it; took about a year before it escalated. This guy came after me with everything. He'd take shit out of my office. He'd bad mouth me to my clients. I collected a list of wtf is going on.

Final straw, I had configured 2x ASA5506 for a remote location in Texas. Both firewalls were accessible on the network. He told the MSP owners that my configuration of the ASAs were so bad they needed to shutdown the facility and ship these ASAs back to Canada for him to redo. Mind you, this is my client not his and this is probably in around 200th pair of ASAs I've configured and these were configured identical to 4 other locations which are up and running.

So I send long email detailing the harassment by this guy toward me.

The next day I was fired.

Point of the story, things can be worse. Pull up your socks!

You were dealing with a very toxic person, who said a lot more about you behind your back then you were aware of.

I’ve lived a lot of the same stories. Although yours may be the worst I’ve ever heard, simply because I’ve never been fired. But bits and pieces of your story are in just about every job I’ve had.

I’m no longer confused as to why a lot of people simply don’t want to work anymore. Getting enough money and quitting, starting a menial business, or getting on government assistance makes a lot more sense than your story.

If you're curious to read what a rougher week was like: https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/a7zjvr/my_toxic_m...

You might ask why I didn't bail before? I didn't even interview for a single job. I was pretty sick. Had major surgery and chemo shortly after that week. It was a couple months after that week where I got fired.

They had about 30 techs and >20 techs quit and were fired after that.

No one in the world should work under such conditions.

To me it doesn't sound like it could be much worse than what you described

There are lots of different configurations supported by lots of companies. I’ve never worked in a company, in 25 years, that expected 8 hours of literal coding. There’s meetings, admin junk, training, etc.

But maybe the easiest would be to start your one person contracting company with either a high hourly rate that you can sell to clients who understand your productivity. Or you can bill by job and have clients not care about hours worked. This would let you work whatever you want.

I think the most common config I’ve seen for programmers is to work in 8x5 jobs that only require an hour or two of literal programming. And if lucky, have flexibility within that period to maybe have a few bursts of deep work and then slack time.

If I would run a dev company, this is how I would do it:

- no open office

- no meetings in the morning

- no phones in the morning

- no slack/whatever in the morning

Try to create a window for devs where they can do some deep work for 3-4 hours. It doesn't have to be in the morning, whatever works the best for each developer.

You have a 8 hour workday. From those 8 hours you spend approximately 4 hours primarily on job output. The other 4 hours are spent on secondary things like reading/replying to emails, coaching juniors, taking a rest (it is imperative to do so), socializing, reading Hacker News and so on.

Anyone up the chain expecting you to work 8 hours 100% productively is completely unrealistic and IMO provide a good reason to find job happiness somewhere else.

Best regards,

A product architect who doesn't treat his devs as robots

My employer uses a heavy anti-malware solution (configured to scan any file access or modification) I will not name here: I'm spending at least one additional hour in waiting on my computer.

Think of it like a quarterback actively playing for only 20 minutes per game. The rest of the time, planning, recovering, warming up, is also part of the job. You can't average 8 hours per day encoding and decoding, but you can spend the rest of it bulldozing distractions, learning, and otherwise optimizing your flow states.

Office environments (and perhaps most companies) tend to optimize for the appearance of work getting done rather than actually getting work done. As a result, most of the time spent in them causes stress without creating any benefit.

Moreover, forcing yourself to "work" when you are tired or simply done for the day also tends to create negative returns.

If your work requires sustained concentration, a typical office environment full of people (especially supervisors) and continuous interruptions from noise and other distractions is not the place to do it.

Back in my days as an academic I would follow the same pattern every day: start working early from 7 till 10, take a long walk to the lab have a couple informal meetings with colleague, have lunch. Work there for a couple hours (my « available hours », run some errands or see a friend for coffee and work another couple hours. I have never been as productive as I was back then.

I don’t think this schedule would work for everyone but the general idea was: intense work for a short periods of time, take some time to talk with colleagues and go through meetings and then work again, with long breaks in between. That way I could manage 8 hours of productivity without burning out. And yes, sometimes I would get in flow and work for 12 hours straight without eating. But those days were more the exception than the rule. The point is I could have roughly 8 hours most days working this way.

In companies I’ve worked with I’ve always felt babysitted, as though I was unable to discipline myself when not watched all the time by managers. The truth is we don’t all work in the same way, and we are all reasonably interested in our job—-and if we’re not, sitting all day in the office is not going to change that. So why don’t we make room for everyone’s pattern while keeping some team time every day?

One thing I do is keep a relatively small cup at my desk. I drink a lot especially when thinking hard and whenever that cup runs out that's my signal that it's time to take a break, grab more water, walk around a bit, maybe stare out the window for a few moments. Highly demanding mental work isn't something you should charge through nonstop, especially when there's a creative requirement to it like there is in problem solving, you just won't produce good solutions without allowing your brain to wander.

We also fought hard at work over the course of a year or two with management to change up how we account team capacity. It's now a max of 6h expected work per day on project work. There's simply not enough time for working any more in addition to all the various random emails, slack notifications, restroom breaks, and general cubicle chatter that's part of regular office work.

The maths behind long workdays is pretty simple, you have as you say around 4 hours of productive hours per day, so why do companies want you to spend 8 hours in the office? Because the more free time you have the likelier it is that you will spend those productive hours at home doing hobbies! Therefore the goal of long work hours is to prevent you from having a life which could get in the way of work.

Or from another angle, a person who voluntarily works 45 hour weeks likely spends most of his productive hours at the office. A person who do 35 hour weeks likely spends most of his productive hours at home. A person who is forced to work 80 hour weeks will definitely spend most of his productive hours at the office since he has no time left for anything else. It might hurt his overall productivity, but it at least guarantees that the company gets his all.

I did a poll of HN a while back and the average HNer spends about 6 hours a day doing work of any sort (including meetings, etc.) Only 25% did more than 8 hours a day, and 25% did 4 or less. Seniority had no effect on time spent working.

The problem is, if you're an employer and you went to a 6 hour workday:

1) you lose out on the people that can and do work 8 hours. 2) the people that only work a percentage of the 8 hours are only going to work a percentage of the 6 hours, and you'll lose out there as well.

Sure, you might say, we should just work less hours and hire more people. With 3.7% unemployment, that's easier said than done.

3) It would be a more desirable job. Retention goes up and maybe you can get better people. Your employees are happier and so are their families. When you have to do "crunch time" people are less bitter.

What if you offer a 6-hour workday, and people who want to work less than 6 hours will apply... because this is still the best existing alternative for them? The retention goes up, but your employees will be unhappy, because they actually wanted less than 6 hours.

Meanwhile, the company that requires 8 hours will get a lot of people who are okay with working 8 hours (if that includes 2 or 4 hours on social networks), and a few people who are not okay with that, but still happier than your employees on average.

You could argue moving to more workable hours with that line of thinking then.

I had a contract gig over the past two years that pretty much equalled out to 6 hours/day.

I'm pretty sure I was within 10% of my full-time productivity. If I wasn't being productive, I simply went and did something else for a bit.

You are right: expecting software engineers to problem solve for 8 hours a day is counterproductive. As a software engineers' manager I expect my subordinates to problem solve 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays.

This is not a fugure of speech, this is how creative mind works. When software engineer is banging crap out of the keyboard - it is not a problem solving, it is writing down a solution.

Before writing first line of code an engineer should have the whole structure imagined as a draft and a particular module/section - as clear and real as if we can touch it.

Now, working hours is a matter of comminucation. The time when the software was written by individuals is over, today's business-valued software is written by teams. To be a team, group of people should communicate. Most effective type of communication is face to face, next best thing is videoconferencing and it is about 3 times worse in terms of information shared and remembered. It's a pity, but it is fact. So team of software engineers should meet face to face a lot, and this is why we are working in offices, have some mandatory hours (like 11 to 17), and have so many meeting rooms here :)

The last, but not least question is discipline. I've met people who can churn out problems' solutions at a constant rate regardless place, daytime and even climate and timezone. Those are rare brilliants. Most people left to themseves would beclome less productive, it is another sad fact. Office hours and teammates is a best known work motivation to date, order of magnitude better than hefty salary, stock options and money/stock-bound KPIs.

Now to you, if you don't mind. Thru my career I've met about dosen of engineers who asked for more relaxed hours and/or (part-time) remote. It never worked out as a productive boost, just more pain for me to control and motivate those lads. Most of the time they were just plain tired and/or unhappy, but thought it was something about they commute routine or office aura. It was always symptom, not a cause.

I believe you are just tired and/or unhappy too. We are living in times when being a skilled software engineer means ability to choose company, product, location and team to be bouncy sparkling ball of ideas every morning. If you are not this ball, ask yourself - why?

> On a good day I can work even 12h+

I'd wager that your _good days_ are often preceded by a good night's sleep, if not good eating habits and exercise. For over a decade I believed that I couldn't muster more than about 4 hours of focused, creative productivity in any given day. I'd try to plan all of the most demanding work in the first hours of the day, knowing that after lunch I would lose most of my motivation and focus. I was overweight, malnourished, and prone to all kinds of mental disorders (depression, anxiety, anger). At some point I finally had enough, and started on a journey that has brought me to the happiest, most productive years of my life.

Get good sleep every single day -- everybody's a bit different in this regard, but there's tons of information out there on how you can achieve this.

Eat well -- again, everybody's a bit different, but for me this involves a low carb, high protein diet and intermittent fasting (no breakfast, and eat lunch and dinner within a 6 hour window). No junk food, soft drinks, sweets, etc. I find the trend among scrum masters bringing snacks, treats, cakes, etc., to meetings (planning, refinement, retros, etc.,) totally counter-productive!

Get some exercise -- if the local gym or sports club isn't for you, get some kettle bells, or walk or cycle to work, etc. You don't have to run 5k every day (or ever!), but you do need some robust exercise on a regular basis, even if it's 5 minutes with a pair of kettle bells, particularly if most of your days are spent glued to a desk.

I would say address these issues first (if they apply to you), and then revisit your view on whether 8 hours of problem solving is feasible on a daily basis.

I often leave early or come late to work and my employer doesn't care as long as I get the work done. As long as I'm there for meetings where I have to be there, everything is good. Perhaps you should talk with your employer about their expectations from you so you don't feel like you have to be there for 8 hours from M-F.

Different companies and teams have different cultures, so while I agree that the standard 8 hour workday isn't ideal for coding, and personally seek out teams that allow more flexibility... I also understand why some places do it.

That being said, if you are working yourself to exhaustion and burnout within those 8 hours, to the point of chronic pain... that is something wrong the way you are managing you work, your time, and your stressors. Many comments already in this thread are terrific in the details of this, and how you can adjust. But this also sounds like a medical issue. I'd get yourself to a doctor, and get some bloodwork done. You may have something as simple as vitamin deficiencies (probably due to how hard you are pushing yourself), so identifying them, adjusting your diet, and taking some supplements could help you. Go take care of yourself, and work will fall into place.

I probably do literal coding only about half my work hours. Even if I'm at a place where there's not many meetings or other bureaucratic time, there are other things like general planning, organization, documentation, working on architectural strategy, investigating potential new tools, etc.

What I have learned to do is to keep a list of these kinds of things, that have to be done "soon" but not immediately. When I get to the part of the day where my coding brain is getting weak, I switch over to that list. Sometimes for the rest of the day, but often just for half an hour or so until I am refreshed. Mostly, if you self-monitor, and have a ready list so you don't find your brain blanks out when it's time to think of a non-coding task that needs doing, you can balance coding and non-coding as needed throughout the day.

> loosing motivation

Did some textbook publisher take "losing" out of all their spelling books 15 years ago? I see it misspelled more often than spelled correctly these days.

> Did some textbook publisher take "losing" out of all their spelling books 15 years ago? I see it misspelled more often than spelled correctly these days.

I blame the emphasis on phonics over memorization, since “losing” has the “o” pronounced in a way more typical of “oo” and phonetically differs from “loosing” only in having a hard rather than soft “s”.

Same here.

I can sort of understand why people confuse 'lose' and 'loose' due to incorrect spellchecking, but 'loosing' isn't even correct English.

> I can sort of understand why people confuse 'lose' and 'loose' due to incorrect spellchecking, but 'loosing' isn't even correct English.

Yes, it is.

“loosing” : “loose” :: ”losing” (the verb form, not the adjective) : “lose”

If you understand mistakenly using “loose” in place of “lose” you should be equally able to understand using the gerund or present participle of “loose” in place of the gerund or present participle of “lose” (or the identically-spelled adjective), with the same single-“o” insertion transforming one valid English word to another.

Both you and NeedMoreTea are correct and I can't believe I missed that. Thanks!

"Look at all those archers loosing their arrows"

That said, I bet a substantial majority of modern uses are meant to be losing, and a substantial fraction of what remains is meant to be "loosening". Maybe worth surfacing.

> 6h * 5 + 4h on Saturday (remotely)

No thanks. I'll take my 8h * 5 and two entire days off. I agree that expecting 8 hours of productivity a day is silly but I think it's even sillier to expect me to have only one contiguous 24 hour period away from work per week and not experience burnout. Ideally the employer should set product quality standards and let us determine how to apply our weekly productivity in order to meet schedule.

I totally agree. In my job, we work 37h30 a week, and have supplementary holidays. So it makes a day lasting 8h30, including one hour pause at midday. For me, concentrating during 7h30 is impossible, usually, after 6h of work, I am completely saturated. Same thing for me, takes the whole evening to cool down before sleep. For me, a programmer should work 6h30 a day, that would be a good starting point.

We have 8h workdays and it seems ok for general public, especially for large companies where you can do only meetings all day without contributing anything despite your butt in a seat.

Nothing pushing govs to lower the working time, so deal with it. For me writing code more than 4-5h in a day is considered as a success today but when I have meetings it becomes a hard goal to achieve.

I don't think I've ever heard this type of complaint before. In my case, and I'd wager a significant chunk of this community, doesn't have too much of a problem putting in an 8 hour day. Sure, distractions arise sometimes, sometimes it's harder to focus, but overall it seems like you are describing your own limitations, not those of a majority.

> In my case, and I'd wager a significant chunk of this community, doesn't have too much of a problem putting in an 8 hour day.

I don't think I ever encountered programmers working 8 hours per day 5 days a week. Even 6 hours per day is too draining, only young people can do it. Sustainable productive programming work is like 15-20 hours per week tops without strict bounds on how much you can do in a day.

Maybe it's just a difference of culture. I work in more of an Enterprise atmosphere, and the idea that we wouldn't put in 8 hours seems ridiculous. Sure, it's no all tech work, there's meetings and such, but it's generally a productive 8 hours.

Distractions are not really my problem, it's mental exhaustion. If anything I think I should probably have more breaks, when I'm at work I just work. I see majority of people procrastinating, reading news, social media or socializing with coworkers to take their mind off work from time to time.

If you can work 8 hours straight with only a lunch break, I don't think you are doing very mentally intensive work.

I have studied and kept detailed logs of my work for years. When I reach 4-5 hours of "real" work (i.e. deep work) I am mentally exhausted and I consider it a good day.

No one expects you to be 8 hours straight in the zone, no one does. And if you can do so, the more power to you, but be careful not to burn yourself out.

3-5 hours of deep work - that's it

> No one expects you to be 8 hours straight in the zone, no one does.

I see we haven't worked somewhere with billable hours.

Meetings, working on docs etc can still be billable. 8 hours straight in the zone every day? Nobody does that.

I've worked in a previous position that expected 8 hours of billable work for many of the junior devs, who didn't have meetings or documentation. It was crazy.

Sure, with meetings etc not all 8 hours is going to be deep work, but there's usually more in a workday than that. Meetings, mentoring, etc... But my impression of what the OP is saying isn't really looking at it that way, and is saying 8 hours is too large of a block for work in general, not just deep work.

Is that why programmers are also obligated to write emails and sit in meetings?

8 hours only?

If you want to work only 34 hours, expect to proportionately get only 85% of your salary. And definitely don't expect others to work Saturdays. Don't contact your coworkers over the weekends either.

> If you want to work only 34 hours, expect to proportionately get only 85% of your salary.

It is not linear, unfortunately. For working only 34 hours, expect to get maybe 50% of your 40-hours market salary, if you are lucky. Because by standing out from the crowd, you are sending a signal that you are "somehow weird", and that is not a good signal to send.

As long as there are other people willing to work 40 hours a day, most companies won't bother making an exception for someone. Why hire a "weird" person, if there are non-weird alternatives available?

Coding shouldn't require extreme focus.

If it does, it's probably because your code base is an unstructured mess that can't be worked on without superhuman effort.

Many programmers have never spent time in a well factored code base and don't know how to write one, so this might just sound strange to them.

If you're implementing something new, or a new interface, or basically anything interesting, it's going to require focus. I don't know how you can add anything of real value without a high level of focus.

Focus, sure. Extreme focus is a sign something is wrong.

I think the classic "one interruption makes me have to restart my 15 minute 'getting into the code' process" syndrome is a very clear sign that either your code is way too complex, or you have sleep apnea.

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