The real solution is to figure out how to love a larger percentage of your day. A lot of this has to do with cultivating the right attitude and not getting exploited by others. At work, don't allow your employer to work you to the bone; work at a steady and enjoyable pace, take lots of breaks to socialize with colleagues, get coffee, go for walks, eat a long lunch in the park, etc.
I get that some of you have draconian bosses and this won't work, but there are many on here that it will work for that aren't taking advantage of it. I also bet you might find that you start doing better work, because you feel better and have more creative energy and mental stamina. Now, you have to figure out how to enjoy other parts of your day too. What about that crappy commute, can you move closer and bike or walk in?
I've lived the majority of my life (mid 30s now) waiting for "my time". I remember growing up I just loved to lay in bed at night and think. This was well before smartphones, I'd literally just lay there and think for hours, because that was the most "my time" of the whole day and I loved it. But as I've gotten older I've realized the entire day is my time and it's my responsibility to make it as enjoyable as I can.
I love both my work and my family (and my kid). But the fact is, I have no personal free time until about 11pm. If my spouse has household matters to discuss with me, that takes us to maybe 11:45pm if I'm lucky. And if I don't go to bed before 12am, I pretty much automatically get a migraine the next day. You know what? I still stay up late anyway. Sometimes it's hobby side projects, sometimes it's doing absolutely nothing but useless internet surfing. I can't even help it.
have been there around 18 years ago. and I think GP's point still holds. time with young kids is special in a sense that I felt it would never end. it was awesome but it was also a tunnel without a light. at least that's what it felt like. all of what you said plus the sleep deprivation, stress with the partner because there isn't enough of "us time" and the constant feeling that whatever you do it won't be enough.
the reason why GP point still holds is that one day you'll look back to all that and very likely miss every moment of that hard time you thought would never end. only in 2 years from now life will be so different that you'll likely feel "wtf did I miss out on? I was only absent minded for a moment now they're in school"
If I could turn back time the only thing I'd change is to appreciate the grind more (all the boring mundane stuff including having my hands up to the elbows in diapers and shit). I would also project a more calm image to my partner and argue less about stuff about the child that anyway sorts itself out (traveling back in time I'd still be unable tochange their stress-level but I can change my reaction to them, but coincidentally that would also reduce their stress).
looking back: these times were the best times ever. my kids are grown up now and I'm proud of them. but those moments will never return. best is that I don't even remember the hard parts. that is I only do if I actively think about it, but usually my focus is just on the good stuff. today all I got left is in my memories so I wish that I've had invested more in living in the moment. cherish the moment especially the bad ones even it friggin sucks most of the time and it seems it'll never end ...
I think the complaint is not about having to spend too much time with kids, but rather that "work + kids" is too much. Like, a part-time job would improve the situation a lot. But finding a part-time job can be quite difficult.
I’m sure you’re biased and it’s culturally unacceptable (to say the least) to say that you’d rather not have had kids, but I wonder how often you think about that loss of individuality? Maybe it’s that what you’d do were you to have the time wouldn’t be as “productive” in a broad, undefinable “life” sense? Or that intellectualizing “take away this kid” is too emotionally fraught to even consider?
It feels amoral to ask these questions, but as I reach the time when friends are having kids and the biological clock of partners becomes a real factor, I’m not sure how to know.
I suspect that this is one of the places we've lost out by splitting off to nuclear families with a small number of closely spaced children. Childcare is a job that, while difficult and stressful at times, is not particularly intellectually challenging, nor does it require very much expertise or physical strength. It's also relatively parallelizeable (the added effort of taking care of an extra simultaneous child is sublinear). Those characteristics make it a perfect job for both past-working-age people and older children.
We still utilize this dynamic some through grandparents and babysitters, but it's not nearly as prevalent as it would have been in an earlier era where multiple generations (and familial leaves) lived in a single household, with a wide range of children.
There is no real feminism with this traditional system in place. Even with the modern setup, women take care of children more _even if they don't want to_, simply because nursing takes a lot of time.
Empowering means: "make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights". Having child does not really make that and I dont see how it should make that.
I don't think there's a real argument to be made that the nuclear household developed because of feminism. The New Deal and post-WWII policies that gave returning vets and their families cheap mortgages in sprawly suburbs appears to have had more to do with it (an era that was notably accompanied by an expansion of household technologies whose goals were to enable a single person to care for an entire household).
Also, full time childcare is quite tiring for older people, grandparents who are strong enough are typically employed.
Full-time, sure. But what about flexibly available when necessary?
Also, traditional household provides too little privacy, but living within 10 minutes walking distance is fantastic.
There are all these situations like "grandma, I need to go shopping, could you please take care of the kids for about 30 minutes? maybe later if it is more convenient for you" where having good social infrastructure is awesome, and I cannot imagine how more difficult life would be without it.
Seems to me that as a society we went from one extreme to the other, skipping over the point where things could work really great.
There are fun bits later, and some people will insist childrearing is 'fun', but I don't think so.
It's loads of work, but fulfilling, interesting work, getting to know a new person. It is full of joy. Fun / contentment? Not so much. The amount of work decreases as the kids get older, but the complexities of the problems that present themselves increase, too.
In some ways, you could view it as an increased opportunity for individuality. You're not just doing you anymore, but creating your own miniature culture around you. You're choosing who you are and how you're going to pass it on to a new generation. Hopefully, you start to take a really intentional view of the structure of your life at this point, too.
I'm not really looking forward to my kids growing up and having my individuality back. Though I do sure wish there was a chance to take a couple weeks vacation each year. ;)
We were going to have two of them go away to Johns Hopkins-CTY this summer, but it didn't happen (for obvious reasons).
Maybe summer 2021 I'll get a week or two partially off :D
My kids are asleep by 830 or 9pm, I'm not sure why this person feels they don't have free time until 11pm, that seems like an exaggeration to me.
Even when they are awake, they rarely occupy both my wife and I full time, unless we're choosing to spend quality time with them. Sometimes just one of us watches them while the other one had time to relax or catch up on work.
It's not like my wife and I were globetrotting before kids anyway. Having kids is far more interesting than the same old, same old routine. I don't really feel like I'm missing out on things I would have been doing before kids.
I'm not going to pretend like I don't miss having 5-11 PM for myself, or the fact that weekends tend to be quite busy. But I've done the "all non-work time is _my_ time" for my previous 38 years. And I've also come to understand that the luxury of time I had previously I was also quite adept at BS'ing myself about: "I'll start that tomorrow! never starts it"
If I don't work on a side project, I understand very clearly now it is because I didn't sit down and actually do it.
It's not my son's fault, it's my own.
The 5 year old is in his "big boy bed" and we use a color-changing nightlight on a timer that is a soft red when he needs to stay in his room and turns blue when he can come out. The 3 year old is still in his crib for another few weeks, then we will transition him to the same setup.
Apart from the predictable times here and there where the older one sneaks out of bed to see what we're up to, it's worked out really well and gives us our sanity back from around 745pm to whenever we go to bed.
That said, I agree more with you, because as much as I like to say, "oh I could be doing x or y if I weren't caring for my kids," in reality, I probably wouldn't be doing much differently. Maybe I'd go out a few more times a month, but oops pandemic.
If I don't get a solid 2 hours a day I get very unhappy, very fast. So long as I get that, I'm good. But that's about all I can manage these days.
It's worth mentioning that sleep routine discipline for the kids is worth working towards. Not being free until 11pm is just crazy. We have friends who sit/lie beside their kids for an hour or more until they get to sleep - insane.
Our kids are usually in bed at 7:30 and more often than not, we walk out after saying goodnight and don't hear from them until the morning. If the eldest struggles to get to sleep, he goes out to the living room to read for half an hour and then goes back, but it's nothing that would stop us watching TV elsewhere, working, doing dishes, etc. If the youngest sulks about sleep, being responsive/attentive and caving to demands will not help you in the future.
Doing dishes as you cook is worth it. Cooking more so you have leftovers for the next night is worth it. Combining routine with play (kids help cook, help clean, etc) is useful. Those little helpful things add up and buy you time.
Another one is, if date nights are difficult to schedule (or babysitting expensive), work from home on the same day as your partner or work a four day week, and then go out for lunch while the kids are in school/childcare.
I've always known I wanted kids, but knew I wasn't ready through my entire 20s. I have older siblings with kids of their own, and I'm on the younger side of the extended family, so I was around a lot of kids regardless, watching the different dynamics.
I was conceptually well aware of the hard work it involved, the priorities needed etc, and to the best of my abilities set my own bar for that.
We had our first kid a few years into our 30s, very much by choice. I think it's very difficult to conceptualize it through others kids. I was never really good with kids in general, but I believe (and have no reason not to) that I'm very good with my kids (in general, there will always be bad days behind the photo ops).
I can't shut myself in my office for 8 hours doing a project, gaming, watching movies or just nap.
I obviously miss that on some level, but the reason I can't do that (at least until they're old enough not to want to hang out with me) is of such value that I don't mind really. And that part is something at least I had no way of conceptualizing before having kids.
Absolutely don't have kids if you don't want to. I like to imagine I have a finely tuned radar to spot those families instantly, and it's not about a love thing, because I think most parents do regardless, but about patience/acceptance that this was your choice, and all of the great parts make up for it thousandfold.
I'm not a different person now, I'm just a person with baggier eyes, who frets a little less about things that don't really matter. That can be done with or without kids, I think it's merely that the latter forces the issue.
But I still binged Queen's Gambit with our youngest using me as a glorified crib.
Not sure this rant had a point, but try to shut out friends, society, biology and just ask yourself whether you want kids. If you do it'll be great, and if not that'll be great too.
I can finish my work in 2h of my 8h workday. Just let me leave at 11am. I’ll have plenty time to learn new things, play with kids, get enough sleep, maintain a healthy social life.
TBH current covid situation is like a blessing for me. I don’t have to “be there”, my work is still done and I can finally spend some time with family.
Working at home, instead of wasting time socializing at coffee with the same people every day, I can use my breaks to go shopping, cook, have a lunch together with my family, do the dishes, exercise, pick up kids' toys, etc. I am not taking more breaks than in the office; I just do something useful during the breaks, and it probably makes me relax better than reading web.
I wish we could have 6-hour workdays, or 4-day workweeks, or both, in the 21st century. The productivity is supposed to be so much higher than 100 years ago that we really could afford a bit more free time.
Until then, I will enjoy the benefits brought by the COVID situation, and dread the moment it will all revert to the usual 8-hour prison time. (Or even worse, business trips, when you have to be 24 hours a day without your family, just because someone couldn't explain something over video.)
When "work + family" is too much work, the proper solution isn't to give up having kids. That's insane.
Nope.. It's great that you are making an informed decision and really thinking about it. People have different experiences. Mine is that as a baby you are just really into it, the whole baby thing and don't really worry about individualism. As they get a bit older you think about that again - your career, maybe travel etc. and realize it is constraining having kids, and 90% of that is because of cost of living (IMO). I.e. if I had millions that'd fix it, ha ha! (maybe it wouldn't!) but money does help - you can buy time with it by getting help like cleaners, working less, and can afford holidays etc.
If you're seriously considering the question, you owe it to yourself to seek out parents who specifically enjoy and thrive with parenting.
There's a serious imbalance in conversation about children. Most of the internet comments you read about raising children will sound negative or burdensome. Why is that? It's because they're venting, or wanting to discuss a challenging situation.
Meanwhile, you're likely surrounded by countless parents who simply don't talk about their experience. No one wants to hear endless "I love my children" stories, so we just keep quiet. As you get older, you also realize that many people want children but struggle to conceive, so we refrain from child talk around non-parents out of caution and sensitivity.
Chances are good that the majority of parents in your community, office, or social circle are actually very happy most of the time. There's just not much to talk about because being happy with your family is the boring, normal state.
It also helps to keep in mind that the infant and toddler phases are relatively short. It's only 4 years, relative to your expected lifespan of around 80 years. If you're in your early 20s and just barely out of college, spending 4 years raising a child past the toddler age probably feels like an eternity. When you're in your late 30s and 40s, you realize that it's merely a blip on the radar. 5% of your life.
Look at this way: If you walked into an Ivy League university library around finals time and started asking sleep deprived students cramming for tests if they're enjoying their decision to enroll, you wouldn't get an accurate picture of the lifelong benefits of an Ivy League degree. Ask them if it was worth it in their 40s or 50s and you'll get a very different answer. Asking parents in the middle of the most difficult few childraising years if a lifetime of child raising makes sense isn't going to give you an accurate picture, either.
> I’m sure you’re biased and it’s culturally unacceptable (to say the least) to say that you’d rather not have had kids, but I wonder how often you think about that loss of individuality?
It's actually an extremely common question from my non-parent friends. I was afraid of it myself before having kids. The truth is that your old self doesn't disappear when you have kids. Free time still exists. Time management and efficiency becomes vastly more important. When I first had kids, it would take me hours to handle feeding, bathing, prepping for bed, and so on. We made a deliberate effort to streamline our workflows and now we can get it all done quickly and get on with having fun. Believe it or not, dinner time and bath time can actually be fun.
If you approach everything as a miserable chore that you have to slog through before you can get back to wasting time on the internet, you're going to have a bad time. If you lean into it and make an effort to make things fun, it's way better than messing around online.
And don't forget that after a few years they feed and bathe themselves. After 18 years they're off to college and you're back to you. People seem to forget that children grow up quickly.
Frankly, having kids helped me improve some aspects of my individuality and social life. I'm more likely to take the kids for a hike or schedule a meetup with fellow parents. I meet new friends through community functions. And this won't make sense to non-parents, but I actually enjoy spending time my kids.
Slightly off-topic, but this isn't limited to parenting feedback, it's true of nearly any topic online.
Some forums are full of people venting, some forums are full of people showing off how great their lives are.
It's very difficult to get an accurate view of an average person's experience with X (and maybe it's not even relevant to you—what you really want is a picture of your experience with X, which may depend a lot on your socioeconomic circumstances).
I've found anecdotes from friends to significantly outperform online anecdotes in predicting my personal experience.
On the topic of children, someone can spend their entire life around coworkers, extended family, and friends who are happy parents without thinking twice about it. Yet as soon as they read some comments online about someone struggling with their children, they have an "I knew it!" reaction.
As a parent, I don't try to push other people to have children. I do, however, roll my eyes at how out of touch the anti-child rhetoric on the internet has become. It's almost as if young people are convinced that all parents are actually secretly miserable but we're all collectively lying about enjoying it out of a sense of societal obligation.
I guess it depends where you look, but here on HN comments seem to lean towards being pro-children - which makes sense, since most people want them and have them.
The most interesting kind of comments, to me, are the ones that try to convey how having kids is great and worth it, and yet - upon reading them - all I can think of is "wow, that sounds horrible". There is one example that is kind of like that in this thread .
I know it's because it's much easier to convey in words how annoying or boring something is compared to how it brings this deep, unspeakable (and perhaps, for some readers, yet unexperienced) joy. It's still a bit funny.
 - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25271156
Why? I think not having kids is generally seen as the most responsible course of action. I adore my two but the planet is likely to be worse off, ecologically at least, for their existence.
Our planet is already on the tail end of its lifespan, in terms of how long it will be able to support advanced life before the sun gets too hot and cooks everything.
Ours is, as best we can tell, the first and only species to arise that has enough intelligence to be able to do something about it.
If we expired as a species tomorrow, the chance of another one rising to the challenge before things wind down is (probably) very low.
We need smart, motivated people to work on the problem, and we need these people to have kids and pass on the same pro-education, pro-problem-solving cultural habits to the next generation.
In my opinion, that's worth far, far more than the extra eco burden one additional human life adds.
Its a unique part of life that no other part of life will really offer you. Its a trade-off in that respect.
I don't think it's for everyone, and that's ok. At hard as it is it also has it's upside.
Obviously I feel sorry for everyone who suffers for whatever reason, but I find it really difficult not to feel as if parents have very little right to complain about the suffering they willingly brought on themselves. I mean, it's not like it's a mystery that childbirth is painful and that raising children is a mostly miserable affair. It's kind of like someone who set themselves on fire complaining about the heat.
As someone with toddlers I'll take a stab at an explanation: we thought we went in with eyes open, but it turns out we (I?) _massively_ under-estimated how hard this level of sustained effort would be in the long run because there's no real analog for it in your pre-parenting experience.
Everyone says raising toddlers is hard work. You go into it accepting "sure, it's super hard work, I know what that's like, I can do it!". We thought of hard work by drawing from experience, thinking back to difficult degree programs, or working for a fledgling startup, etc. But in all of that experience, after crunch time, you always get to take an afternoon off once in a while, a couple hours here and there, even if it's just an evening of doing nothing every few weeks.
Nobody had "Well, what if there's a pandemic and you just can't drop off your toddlers at a sitter/parent to get a few hours break? For an entire year?" on their threat radar.
We simply didn't know what that child-rearing work looked like if it went on for months without a break. While you're sleep deprived. While your relationships with a co-parent might be frayed by stress, exhaustion, and cabin fever.
It's become very tiresome to use the word "unprecedented" in 2020, but it's still the word that fits.
I'm totally out of shape now, partially because it winds up being very unsustainable. I'm not working crazy hours at all, but I basically had to eat my meal, do chores, and immediately go to bed. I could probably swing 0.5-2 hours of leisure and that left 5-8 hrs of sleep. There's a ton of corners that can be cut, but there's always a penalty.
I love working out and work. If my body/mind could tolerate it, I'd work for 10 hrs, exercise for 4, a few hours for relaxing with family/friends, and 9 hrs of sleep, but that would take like 30 hrs (technically only 23-25 hrs listed there, but there's overhead, travel, and chores)
Plus it’s easy to combine it with intermittent fasting as you don’t even get a chance to eat till after they’re in bed!
It has been getting a bit nicer of recent in that she's talking so much now that I'm really enjoying having conversations and doing things with her in a way that has only really just started last month or two. But she's also "misbehaving" / not listening a lot more so it has it's ups and downs :)
There was a point where I was worried about my fitness, which reached its apex when I had a long commute and a stressful job. Some research was published that changed my life.
Cardio improvement can be seen with 3x7 minute intervals, rather than the previous wisdom of 20 minutes. To get a 20 minute workout you have to disappear for at least 25 minutes, and already be in a certain amount of shape to go that long. It’s miserable and your coworkers notice immediately.
7 minutes doesn’t even have to get you sweaty, so it’s 7 minutes plus however long it takes you to get where you’re going. It’s like a long bathroom break, and nobody commented on where I had gone. 1-2 of those a day and then another 10 minutes at home (or walking to and from lunch) and I was on my way to feeling a lot better.
Also for me, physical activity tends to clarify concepts and decisions I’m wrestling with. I do less work and do it better once I know what I’m doing. I can often save myself an hour and a bunch of mental energy by disappearing for 10 minutes and coming back. Even if it only worked 20% of the time, my boss still comes out way ahead.
Sharpen your saw.
I have a distant cousin that I see only at family gatherings. She's an injection molding worker for an automotive parts company (IAC). She gets one 10 minute break and one 30 minute break in an 8 hour shift.
The rest of her time, she's picking up plastic car parts off a conveyor belt and inspecting, labeling, and placing them on metal racks.
Tell me how she's supposed to do literally any of what the OP said.
Those suggestions work great if you're like most of us, and lucky enough to be a knowledge worker, working for a Fortune 500 / 1000 / 5000 company. If you're not...
Reminds me of what the Athenians told the Melians, "The strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must."
Ironically, even though I am on a base the majority of my work occurs over phone/email connections to people other locations. Covid has only made that worse as we are to avoid in-person meeting whenever possible. I feel like a remote worker ... one that still has to commute to the office each morning.
I was never the type to hate being in the military, but stepping away was the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of physical and mental well being.
No. It is eight hours on shift, on the factory line. That doesn't include all the pre/post work getting to/from the line, paperwork to do and meetings to attend. All of that is probably another hour or two every day.
>> two hours of commuting and personal hygiene
We don't all live next to the factory. I'd say two hours just for commuting. As for personal hygiene, I leave it to the ladies here to comment on how much time they need to put in each day. I (military) can shower/shave in under 10 minutes when necessary, but I get to wear the same clothes every day and certainly don't worry much about my hair.
>> a full six hours per day to use however she likes.
Work emails to answer. Kids to cook for. Bills to pay.
Paperwork to do. Shopping. Taking the car to the mechanic. Dentist appointments. Elderly parents to support. Carpets to vacuum. LIFE.
>>eight hours of sleep .
You can't say no to overtime if you're asked, or you'll incur a write-up. Three write-ups and you're terminated.
And because of Texas labor laws, an hours over 60 are not paid at double time as they are in many other states. Meaning by the time Saturday rolls around, were she in California, she'd at least be making double time at some point. Instead, they only get double time on a Sunday.
She told me last week, she had 82 hours. For a job that pays $16 an hour. Yes, she's probably clearing $4000 a month, but she's putting in CEO-level hours to do so. The saddest part about all this is that many people are jumping for the chance at these positions because of the insane amount of overtime this company is offering.
The United States should be better than this.
And (mainly for women, sadly) the emotional labour of communicating with relatives and with friends. Social media have increased the burden here massively.
One nice aspect of having one (or a few) regular routines is that it's easy to see progress. Even with just a few very short sessions most days I can lift much more weight than when I started.
You are certainly right there. I think the problem is that the sizes of different effects rarely get reported. So a just significant study that showed a 4% improvement is reported as the new “truth” of the week.
But the fundamentals are the same and very simple. Almost all of us should eat more vegetables. Maybe raw kale is slightly better than tomatoes, but that effect is dwarfed by the effect of switching your french fries to tomatoes. Almost all of us should move more. Maybe 20 minutes is slightly better than 3x7, but that is nothing compared when you go from nothing to 3x7. And if 3x7 is what you actually have a chance to do, that is what you do.
So, for most of us, move more and eat more vegetables is what we have to remember. The rest is just noise.
What sort of cardio activity would you recommend for these short intervals?
As expected, becoming a father cost me a lot of free time, but when I started working from home I lost my commute (usually walking, sometimes biking) and that was the one that really stung.
It was only a half hour or so each way, but I used that time to catch up with friends, listen to podcasts or music, or just let my mind wander. Now I have to really make an effort to carve out "me time," and with the Covid time tax it's really difficult.
I’ve worked from home for a decade and that’s part of my routine. I go through a local park.
You’d have to negotiate this with your spouse, but you were already using that time before, so in theory it ought to be reasonable. Unless your kid was born this tear that’s a but trickier.
Burning out does nobody any good in the long run and exercise and walking are human needs.
If I found myself making excuses not to go, I'd mix in an errand that was about a 30 min walk away. Other people I know use a dog as an excuse for this sort of pattern too.
^ This people, THIS. Programmers are in massive demand right now, especially skilled ones. You dont have to work to the bone, there are thousands and thousands of jobs out there. You are harder to replace than you imagine. Those "must do" barriers are largely in your head, and if they are not (they really, really are) then MOVE.
There are better jobs out there if you’re getting worked to the bone but it’s not like everyone is going to get $400k and wonderful work. That’s still reserved for the top 5% of engineers.
If you’re in the bay, you have a very slim amount of options unless you got your home 30 years ago.
I don't think it is difficult to find a new job once you are established as a reasonably competent engineer. Do workers in other industries get constant messages via Linkedin and email for job opportunities?
It's gotten harder every year I've been in the industry. I have a limited set of experience since I've only worked since 2013. But, I've interviewed every single year for the last 7 years and the interviews keep getting tougher. Every time I decide to venture out - I have to prep more than I did the previous year. This year is obviously an exceptional year but I feel it's only going to set the bar for the future. I don't see them lowering the bar since enough people are still clearing it.
> Do workers in other industries get constant messages via Linkedin and email for job opportunities?
This means nothing to me, honestly. Most of the messages I get are spam recruiters. I suspect maybe 5% of recruiters are accountable for 95% of recruiter spam. As me and my peers pretty much all get the same emails.
If that's the case the problem is definitely you.
From the hiring side: What we're really looking for is engineers who can work efficiently and deliver results with minimal drama. Counterintuitively, it's not always the most "skilled" engineers who get the most work done. It's not even the engineers who spend 60 hours per week at the office. It's usually the above-average people who show up, get down to work, deliver code, and go home on time or even early.
One of the challenges with hiring, especially hiring more junior engineers, is that many of them have this idea that raw coding skill is the only thing that matters. We've struggled with numerous very talented engineers who simply could not deliver work on time. Some simply procrastinate excessively. Others have perfectionist tendencies, spending countless hours rewriting and refactoring code because they refuse to commit anything less than perfect code.
Meanwhile, some of our highest output engineers are the ones who know how to strike a balance between good architecture and taking on the right amount of technical debt at each step. It can upset some of the juniors when they see other people getting ahead by shipping good-enough code that gets the job done instead of something that uses the latest and greatest frameworks and languages. At the end of the day, we're in the business of shipping things to customers, not crafting the picture perfect codebase.
> You are harder to replace than you imagine. Those "must do" barriers are largely in your head, and if they are not (they really, really are) then MOVE.
From the manager side, I'm increasing seeing young engineers who have a chip on their shoulder, believing that they are irreplaceable and therefore can make the company bend to their demands. Ironically, we're not the type of company that squeezes excess hours out of people or is constantly in crunch mode, yet some engineers are permanently convinced that any employment arrangement is exploiting them or that they're permanently underpaid. I've had multiple people leave for "greener pastures", lured away by higher paychecks, only to ask to come back once they realize how good they had it here. It pays to keep your ear to the ground about better opportunities, but beware of recruiters who are experts at telling you anything and everything you want to hear in order to get you in the door.
Waking up at 7am and riding the productivity train until I can actually helps with this.
I want to add to that: Find work which improves the overall state of the world.
Even if you enjoy your work, it's still work, and you're still going to need leisure time. The cause is probably different from person to person, but the solution isn't going to be just "work less", but prioritizing, scheduling, and getting the most out of your "leisure time", which also means different things for different people.
I do have to remind myself that I speak from a place of privilege with extremely in demand skills being a software engineer. But I feel a lot of people in a number of different lines of work fail to take advantage of the freedom they have.
Today's leisure time is closer to busy escapism than relaxation, for the poor at least.
Good luck with this, if you live in a capitalist country.
I'm struggling with this myself. Some of my conclusions so far:
* When I am sleep-deprived I am less productive. So I spend more time doing "work". Then I have less time for everything else I want to do (family, cooking, sport). So I take more time away from sleep. And the cycle repeats. Sleep deprivation is self-perpetuating.
* What I do at night, when I am exhausted, in 2 hours can be done in the morning in half an hour.
* I get angrier and negative much more easily when I am sleep deprived.
For my particular case: limit the time dedicated to "work" and do the other things in the time it is usually dedicated to it. Stay away from screens past 11. Listen to ebooks for falling asleep. Use the good sleep energy to finish work stuff earlier, do more exercise, etc. Break out of the vicious cycle and start a virtuous one.
I still fail at doing it from time to time. I think this must feel similar to what relapsing alcoholics feel. I try to not be too hard on myself and keep trying.
What's weird is psychoactive substance rarely seem to change this productivity dynamic. Even if I'm well rested and drink coffee in the morning, I'm still inclined to procrastinate, whereas in the evening even after drinking alcohol or smoking weed, I can be productive even for intellectual tasks. Obviously I do not condone working while under influence, but if it's a friday and I have literally nothing to do (e.g. during lockdown) drinking a few beers, smoking some pot and programming for my side-projects or playing chess around midnight is really fun for me. In the mornings, I just infinite-scroll reddit for at least an hour before I can even leave the bed.
I reckon something happens at the physical level that triggers a tiny bit of adrenaline in the afternoon, so I get sharper. If I skip lunch, for example, I get sharper sooner - the body is actually slightly starved of resources, why am I feeling better? There must be something in me that goes “body tired -> let’s power it up”, probably some sort of small-scale adrenaline deployment.
Note that coffee can take 2 hours to actually work its magic, depending on one’s metabolism and tolerance, so drinking more of that won’t necessarily help your mornings. The only thing that helps me is doing something I actually care about.
Please look into this, GP.
In this article the problem is being overworked. The solution isn't to remove that little bit of extra pleasure from your life so you can sleep better and be an even better, harder worker, but to find a better balance.
If you have this problem is very likely because you have a major part of your life you don't feel like you have control over: maybe your jobs is awful, maybe your marriage is awful, maybe you just feel too stressed about the world.
Treating the symptom and not the root cause will not yield the results you are looking for even if you succeed.
I also think being sleep deprived destroys your willpower. So getting enough sleep for a few nights, perhaps on the weekend, and then trying to keep a streak going.
Additionally I’ve had a lot of success using a habit tracking app (I love way of life but habitica is also great and free).
I would also set an alarm every night.
Its a management/company culture thing.
Burn out, find something healthy. The fact that most wont since they need the money tells us how nasty this is.
I was reading the book '168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think', and the author mentions how researchers in the past were predicting we would have so much free time in the future.
Humans are being treated like this. As technology increases, humans are merely expected to produce more in the same amount of time. There's no law that guarantees humans would have more free time due to increased efficiency.
On the edges, where people are forced to work 60+ hrs a week there's enough leverage of people simply being unwilling to do the job (though even this isn't as true for some elite jobs). On the other hand, if they're just being asked to clock in from 9-5? There would need to be some outrage and push, but this makes you look lazy. There seems to be some progress made on vacations in corporate America, though.
Also, some roles would legitimately suffer or not work at all at 20-30 hrs. I think the ideal is to normally work 40-60 hrs "busy weeks", but not try to load people down when things naturally get slower and let them dip into the time for personal, so it's usually 30-35, or occasionally a bit less.
I think Keynes talked about it a lot too.
The biggest thing I do to overcome that is to take a day off and don't do anything productive at all (easy if it happens to fall on a weekend, more effective if I do it on a weekday). This breaks the first step -- less productive does not mean spend more time working, it means taking time off to recover.
For me it's about "reminding myself I don't have to do things". That voice in my head telling me how vital it is I get all the things done is just one voice. All I need to do is work well enough to ensure me and my family are fed, clothed and have somewhere to sleep.
So I guess if you can build in some sort of "hard stop" a little before you want to fall asleep that might work, but I haven't really found anything since.
I recently took a trip to the beach and spent a half hour or so outside in the transition between full light and darkness. It was surprising how tired I was feeling as early as it was. Let yourself experience the transition to night and then limit your light exposure.
I've tested this also by not sleeping, and my code becomes worse and I need to rewrite a lot of it anyway.
In fairness, I do try to go to bed on time, but my issue is that I sometimes only sleep 5 to 6 hours. My body just won't sleep, so I make up for it during work time.
It is what it is.
I had another tech friend who didn’t drink coffee, but always took a tea nap where he drank some tea, then immediately laid down for 15-20 minutes. By the time the caffeine kicked in, he got up and was ready for the next push of the day.
However, X could be a wide range of things. To use an extreme example, I could neglect fixing my furnace during personal time, and thus I can do it on my employer's dime so that I don't die of carbon monoxide poisoning while WFH (I would be unproductive if I am dead)...
Which is why people are working so much in the first place! There are payments to be made, on a strict schedule. You could lose your home and burn bridges if you don't keep up. Quite a few people actually do lose their homes and burn bridges. It's common to think of this as being their fault for being lazy.
But this whole arrangement is unsustainable for the people and for the planet.
And this is the whole point of Thomas Piketty's famous book a few years back that caused a big stir but is all but ignored by political and economic leaders in the US.
There are very good reasons why cultures before banned usury. Sure, rent and debt are powerful economic tools, but with great power comes great responsibility, and I'm still waiting for the lawmakers and business leaders where I live (the US) to go ahead and exercise that responsibility by creating sensible countermeasures to protect people from exploitation.
I would be less productive at work if I were stressing out about a personal item that I would normally handle during "personal time". I've had fantastic employees have horrible weeks / months because they refused to take a few days off to deal with personal items.
As an employer, I would definitely say it is in my best long term interest to have an employee who is happy and doesn't have problems at home. If that means someone I'm paying 6 figures needs every Friday off for a few months then so be it. Or in this case, taking a nap whenever they need to, provided it's not a 4 hour nap everyday at 1 PM.
As non hourly, exempt workers, it’s generally assumed the time is flexible, in the same way you aren’t paid for overtime.
It is much quicker to just pause work for an hour, fix the problem and then get back to it. I'm not trapped in an office twiddling my thumbs while having to put off the problem for later.
I also find this makes me much more amenable to dealing with work problems on non-work hours. You aren't leeching my life problem solving time during the entire work day, so I don't have to be as protective of it when I'm on personal time.
Same here. There's not much "psychology" mystery to it, humans are not robots, we need some fun/me/entertainment/wind-down/-time, not just to sleep, work, and eat.
Note: Before anyone tries to give me advice, my depressive episodes cause primary insomnia. Whatever you think will work, won't. It's been tried.
I've been diagnosed Bipolar 1 by a psychiatrist. Primary insomnia is a known symptom of depressive episodes. Uncommon to be sure, but not unknown.
And to prove it really is primary insomnia, let me walk you through the three different kinds of insomnia I deal with.
1. Anxiety-related insomnia. Rare. My brain is stuck in a feedback loop.
2. Manic insomnia. Occasionally. My brain running overclocked and I don't feel tired. Imagine trying to sleep while doing lines of cocaine.
3. Depression insomnia. Common. My body can sleep but brain cannot sleep. I can lay in bed for eight hours, motionless and thoughtless while being fully conscious of every moment while my body rests. I get up with my body feeling great and my mind exhausted.
Completely off-topic, but I am interested in the science of psychological diagnoses, because a diagnosis is usually a recognition of a cluster of symptoms, and only sometimes is a cause given.
Funnily enough, before you mentioned it, I didn’t know what ‘primary insomnia’ meant. A definition for others: “Traditionally, a distinction has been made between secondary insomnia, which arises due to another condition, and primary insomnia where a patient has problems sleeping but where there is no underlying medical cause. However, this distinction is now considered less important because:” from https://bpac.org.nz/2017/insomnia-1.aspx
Trying to understand causes is an epically hard road, as shown by the slow progress in non-psych medicine over the last century. Especially hard if your own mind is throwing roadblocks in the way (mental tar pit, manic disinformation, delusions, time 110% dedicated to surviving with no spare cycles).
All the best fortune on your journey.
No. I'd like to avoid my psychiatrist sending me to the ER again.
I wish I could say that about myself. Since a few months, I often lie awake for hours waiting for sleep to come along and poof the night away. More often than not, it takes until 3am for me to fall asleep, and I feel as broken as you might expect the next morning.
I don't really have a good handle on what changed, or how to get back into my old sleep cycle. I just know it's annoying as hell.
In such cases, I have devised a strategy. I have developed a fantasy of my own which I keep playing out in my head consciously. I am fast asleep before I know it.
If they get offended by that advice, the issue is on them, not me.
Also, ironically enough, your comment is actually the unsolicited advice in the thread...
I chose this point to invite this discussion, but could have used one of the many others in the same vein as well. What is a good reaction to someone stating their plight but not actually asking for help?
> I don't really have a good handle on what changed, or how to get back into my old sleep cycle. I just know it's annoying as hell.
In my mind, the only point in saying that is for others to empathize and share their best ideas so that OP can have "a better handle" on things. I think it's only human to respond as I did.
I do think we live in an age where people are sensitive over their interpersonal boundaries to a fault. No man is an island, and people will always give unsolicited advice—the listener can simply just choose to ignore it in which case nobody is really worse off.
Advice is almost invariably provided "as is" and with a suggested grain of salt. I don't see how it's offensive, almost by definition, as there's a distinction between being judgmental of someone and genuinely trying to help.
And for what it's worth, I don't even get offended if people judge me and don't think others should either. It's part of what defines life in a society and judging / peer pressure has a net positive effect lest we remain barbarians.
"Many young Chinese workers prioritise leisure time over sleep after long work days – even though they know it’s unhealthy."
It's clear even from this formulation that what's really been prioritised (and really unhealthy) is the long work day.
I mean there's workarounds like the gig economy, but for most people things are still pretty good.
It does work for workers in many sectors, though. I'm not criticizing working hours regulations, far from it - just saying we should probably do more than that.
Not to be unsympathetic, but it's baffling to me why academics, who are mainly smart, innovative people, don't band together across disciplines to reshape their environment and wrest control out of the hands of the administrators who frequently make their life a misery.
That matches my experience in academia. The prof in charge of our lab worked a lot because he was obsessed with the work and wanted to succeed, not because someone was cracking a whip.
Yes, but why? Most academics I know are miserable and worn ragged by this endless competition. I'm asking why they don't construct a more favorable environment for themselves where they are not constantly being played off against each other. Administrators are part of that system, as opposed to being autonomous villains.
If the only way to not be 'mediocre' is to sacrifice one's health, there's something wrong.
It's almost like they're trying to normalize a 6 day/72 hour week for everyone.
I only get energy from being alone and doing stuff on my computer, so I trade sleep for time every night.
I certainly understand the sentiment. But I'd question is this actually true? Have you considered doing a Gwern-style self-experiment to quantify the impact?
Maybe try something like your current routine for two weeks, then rigorously maxing out sleep for two weeks. Take systematic surveys of your subjective wellbeing and energy levels throughout the day. Then compare the two periods.
You might be surprised to learn that what you think is giving you energy, is actually taking it away. I think as humans we tend to have very bad introspective intuition about what actually improves our energy and mood. I know I certainly do. Being scientific about it can reveal some surprising results.
I feel like you are confusing physical energy with spiritual energy. The stuff that makes you feel motivated and driven and excited, versus just capable of doing work.
The piece seems to imply it's a wrong choice, because it would be better to just go to sleep. Maybe in many cases it is. For me, that's not the case, because if I don't get some "me time", I just can't sleep well. I'd rather go to bed at 1:30 and sleep well than go at 12 and spend two hours rolling in the bed because I'm still thinking about work and haven't had time to "unwind" my mind. So I don't think it's a bad decision, and it doesn't feel like "revenge" either, just some needed personal upkeep time (like sleeping itself).
Of course, I know it would be best to remove the stress, so as to have time both for myself and sleep and not have to choose the lesser of two evils... easier said than done, though.
The most surprising bit of info is how any of this is surprising.
OF COURSE I sacrifice sleep for leisure. I would be happy to sacrifice work instead, but guess what?
However, the activities described in the article -- "Rao would stay up surfing the internet, reading the news and watching online videos until well after midnight" -- don't sound like the kind of quality "me time" that makes life more worth living.
I say this as someone trapped in a similar cycle. My wife and I are exhausted after both working from home and pandemic parenting/homeschooling every day. By the time the kids are asleep (10:30 for the older one) we "need" some time to veg on the couch, and end up going to bed at 11:30, when really we would have been better off going to bed 45 minutes earlier.
But the "me time" trap makes us somehow believe that the hour or so we spend on our phones is necessary for us, when in fact it's stupid, wasted time, reading about politics or being on Twitter of whatever.
(Ok, we also have been teaching ourselves the piano, and playing chess and stuff, but many nights we still feel like we "deserve" some brain-dead "me time.")
I'm sure some people would love to spend their "me time" in the daylight, outside, or even being "productive" and learning new hobbies or practicing current ones. Unfortunately we have to prove value to society so we can get money for food and shelter.
Actually, the "no benefit at all" is the entire point.
Now, I do agree that social media and other things in the digital world can be actually addictive and psychologically harmful, but given the aforementioned state of mental exhaustion I'm totally not surprised that people should get hooked on things that are designed to continuously give your brain small rewards with minimum effort spent on your part.
Seems that my hunch is at least somewhat correct, that I just want more "me time". I feel a bit bad in that I don't have a tough 12hr schedule like some but still exhibit this behavior. I think its partially due to the fact that a lot of other things I do outside of work, my mind doesn't perceive as restful/me-time. Ex. I enjoy running, but exercise still feels like an obligation more than a privilege. Combine that with other social/communal obligations and certain errands and a lot of my non-work time ends up being for fulfilling the demands of some other authority concept.
Then, I've let my hobbies wane over the years (especially in terms of what I can do inside during Covid) so the easiest thing I go to is just scrolling on my phone. Which feels like its for me but is ultimately really draining.
Trying a couple approaches to this.
1.) Anything BUT mindless browsing. Seriously, no guilt even if it's just a show on Netflix, buying one item at the store even though I "should" just batch shop, whatever as long as its self directed.
2.) Eek out that time and make it a priority, while still prioritizing sleep. Allow certain tasks that I "should" get done today to push out.
I would suggest seeking professional mental health help. I'd also suggest meditation and a bit of self discovery. If it wasn't 2020 I'd also suggest travelling, break the pattern find some perspective.
Life is too short, find some help, get to the root of your problem. Life lesson for me that I am still trying to embody is happiness is a choice. It's really true. When I dig deep I realize that I actually like to wallow in unhappiness, it gives me an identity. This is obviously not healthy but realizing that is the first, incredibly difficult step. Shaking myself out of a black hole spiral is so hard. But forcing yourself to go for a walk, see some friends, basically break out of whatever negative thoughts you have an choosing to do something positive is key.
You aren't alone feeling this way. Be kind to yourself.
Lots of things that can't really be changed.
Underlying ADHD can sometimes cause depression and other weird comorbid things. If you treat the ADHD, the depression might get better. (I've seen it happen to friends.)
Yes, in the very short term, stimulants also make you happy directly. But that effect is fleeting and subject to building a very quick tolerance.
I've had both Ritalin and modafinil. They're different.
They both don't have much of a low at low doses. And in any case, you wouldn't be getting a high from either any more after a few days of using them, tolerances to the high build very quickly.
My original comment was a bit flippant. I was obliquely hinting at perhaps treating an underlying ADHD, because that's sometimes cause for depression and something that's relatively easy to rule out (or treat) with eg some over-the-counter nicotine patches.
The only things that are legally available here are ritalin and modafinil (only if you have narcolepsy). I tried 5mg of ritalin 2 or 3 times, it made me work and think faster and with more focus, but it also felt jittery and I'm not sure it was all that pleasurable.
So based on that and on worries about causing more long-term damage I haven't tried to take it longer. Maybe I should try combining it with something that's supposed to be fun, but I don't know how I feel about doing this without some kind of a plan. E.g. combining with games that are challenging I would be worried about lowering my frustration tolerance.
I have ADHD, but never any depression. (But I have friends with those combinations.)
Your reaction to Ritalin matches mine to caffeine or dexamphetamine: the dose I get jittery at is lower than the dose were I see positive effects. Luckily, Ritalin/methylphenidate works fairly well for me with rather manageable side-effects.
By the way, I bet you have other options!:
Caffeine is universally available. But has a bad side effect profile.
You can get adrafinil over-the-counter, which is a chemical precursor to modafinil. See eg https://www.gwern.net/Modafinil
Nicotine is a wonder drug, too. Nicotine patches are available over-the-counter. See https://www.gwern.net/Nicotine (Please don't confuse nicotine with smoking. Smoking is still bad for you.)
I am taking methylphenidate, but for long term effects, I am actually seriously considering switching to nicotine patches:
Nicotine protects your brain against parkinson's, which runs in my family.
But in any case, from what you describe, it doesn't necessarily sound like your depression is linked to something that stimulants can help with in the first place?
They may be good for a short term boost, but they do not provide any long-term gain.
I always had my children with me when I was doing 'me things'. Including reading, video games, woodworking, hunting, hiking, and even meditation. For reference, I'm a super introverted person, and really need alone time to recharge my batteries.
It's a nice way to instill values while also enjoying them while they're small.
I mean, they will grow up eventually (really fast actually) and won't want to hang out with you at some point, so even if you "can't" do your 'me time' with them, you will have access to it again, eventually.
The tricky part is making sure you don’t pick up the phone before 10am. Too easy to wander over to HN and write about how much this sleep schedule switch helped.
For me mornings are great for deep work (usually) because my mind isn’t full of other people’s crap yet.
I went back to my usual staying up until 2am or so. Virtually zero chance of getting disrupted then.
I'd get home exhausted ... but I honestly couldn't sleep unless I did some 'non work' a game or something at home away from work. I didn't feel stressed by work or anything, it was a great job with great people.... I just felt driven to do something ELSE no matter how tired I was.
I routinely stay up too late just to have some quiet, waking conscious alone time after a full day of work and time with the kids (which are now hopelessly intertwined).
That was my thought as well. After the wife and kid (not so young now) get to bed is when I actually get quiet time to myself, which I need to unwind from the day.
It's actually gotten much worse due to WFH. My daily commute (via transit) provided some of that quiet time to gear up in the morning and unwind in the evening.
Even when you find/trade your time, it's not the same time.
” Not Amazon Video, not YouTube, not even old-fashioned broadcasters. No, according to the company's chief executive, Reed Hastings, Netflix's biggest competitor is the pesky human need to close your eyes and sleep for a third of the day.”
They logically should care about making people watch a minimum amount that ensures they keep paying, but beyond that it's worthless.
Is there any way for them to even make demands without being squashed?
Can't tell you how much I look forward to 1) being done with OMSCS, and 2) the pandemic ending and the kids going back to in-person school. Never going to complain about teacher salaries again (not that I really ever did, but still...)
I ended up going through some material and building a trading bot because I never got a chance to take ML4T.
My wife was incredulous that I was doing more coursework after graduating.
This. Plus, I have done this in the past and found that it just takes time to wind down after working, no matter how tired I am. It's at least 3 hours for me. It seems more the problem is there aren't enough hours in the day to work that much. But sadly, that rarely changes, and if I prioritize work over life, it will simply take over.
It's much harder to do this with a prescribed "bed time" if you're not ready, it's really hard to sleep.
While China is nominally communist (insofar as all other political parties are banned) in practice the economy there is based on hypercapitalism coupled with industrial policy and strict regulation; it's very apparent that workers have little to no 'control over the means of production' or any kind of ownership or autonomy within their workplace. It's 'communist' in the same way that North Korea is 'democratic' - the political ideology just decorates an authoritarian power structure and has little to do with the everyday life of the population.
I find it sad that people are still quoting this book. Many claims in this book have been debunked online. The misinformation may even cause people to get too much sleep causing different kinds of issues.
As for me, this has caused me to come back with an impression of "we don't really know why we sleep." I wish there was a definitive source of information on this as popular as this book, but which is actually reputable. Now I just end up doubting my sleep patterns, waking up naturally and still being left unsure why I feel tired.
Some typos in the summary, fixed.
Yeah, because that isn't what the labor unions are for, am I right?
I guess people enjoy living in today's neloiberal utopian nightmare rather than supporting labor rights and labor unions.
This is not just a Chinese thing. The US is not much different.