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Ask HN: How do you have time for dates and gym when working for a startup?
74 points by gummify on May 16, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments
I'm a 20 something female who just joined a start up in San Francisco. I used to have 9-6 type of job but now I'm finding that I'm working 9-9 most weekdays. How do you find time to meet and date people and also balance time to work out and have other hobbies? And some locals tell me that in San Francisco, everyone just does online dating, is that the SF dating culture?

Try to keep in mind that you're probably a lot more valuable to your employer than they are to you. If you want to work 40 hour weeks, it's as simple as ramping back down to your old 9-6, 5-day schedule.

It's entirely possible that somebody will call you into an office and tell you that you're not a team player. It's possible that they'll explain how it's crunch time and everybody's pulling together and it's unfair to the other people on the team if you don't pull too and how you're letting everybody down.

That's fine.

It's also possible that after telling you these things enough times and writing them down, they'll fire you.

That's fine too.

There are worse things in this world than being a talented developer on the job market in the Bay Area. If your company is silly enough to fire you for working the hours you agreed to work when they hired you, that's a shame. But you'll probably find yourself with a better job a week later.

More likely, though, you'll find that they deal with it. Better still, you might be able to convince a few of your co-workers to also make life a priority. Who knows, six months from now you might have an entire office full of people working sane hours. It's definitely worth a shot.

Thank you for the comment, I was more curious about how to meet people in San Francisco and avoiding online dating, especially if you work in the start-up scene where you usually work with a smaller team of people secluded away from others (i.e. small professional circle). Just to be clear, I don't work 9-9 every single day, sorry I wasn't more clear. Just most weekdays and we do have a launch looming. I am guilty of being a workaholic. The startup is actually quite flex where I work, so we can go have longer lunches, run errands during the day, work from home, etc. My team goes out to party and let our hair down on weekends as well. I didn't join the startup blindly, I'm still young and have the passion to put a lot of energy in something I really believe in. Actually, truth be told, I wake up really excited about what I'm doing and I didn't have this feeling compared to my 9-6 job. But I agree I have to stay disciplined and that's the hard part. But like you said, it's definitely worth a shot. It's not a sustainable lifestyle as it is for the long run. It's easy to just put all of your energy into one thing. It seems like a lot of people I've met so far in San Francisco also have the same problem. Even those who would work for Facebook or Google.

I've never agreed more with a comment on HN.

What do you do if they have your cell phone number or other ways of getting a hold of you outside of work? How do you say "no" tactfully when there is big, important, release looming?

Don't answer it.

Then put it on mute.

Then explain that unless it's there is a fire in the server room, you are not to be contacted after work hours.

It isn't hard honestly. You are paid X for Y time. That is it. You are not paid to be a modern slave. I think I only had one call outside work hours in the last few years, and it was really the CEO asking me for a personal favour (if I could give a lecture the next day on behalf of the company at a local university as he was sick and couldn't make it).

I think if I was in SF and if half the 'work to death' stories here on HN are true, I would change my resume to include at the top in big bold letters: "I DON'T WORK UNPAID OVERTIME"

Build a Ci server

> It's possible that they'll explain how ... you're letting everybody down

And if somebody says this to you, your inclination is to believe it -- if you're a nice person. But you have to tell yourself: They are letting themselves down. They made their choice; you don't have to make the same choice, just because they do. Their choices don't remove your ability to choose. They are not allowed to choose for you. Ergo you are not letting them down at all. Instead, maybe you'll inspire them to make better choices.

Well said. It's worth keeping this in mind for salary negotiations as well. Sometimes you'll hear an argument that a company can't offer you a certain salary (even though you clearly are worth it) because its far above the average wage for their other employees at your level.

Other people's inability or unwillingness to negotiate what's best for them has no bearing on your right to negotiate what's best for you.

If you have to work those hours then you are being "used". Unless you have major equity (5%+) Your are just being a tool for the founders to get rich. That's it. Your equity is not worth it, plus you will never get those months/years back.

Find another job, where you can have normal hours, and can have time for friends, fun, and hobbies, and creating an app, or open source project/whatever rocks your boat.

Life is too short to spend every minute of it making somebody else rich.

Could not agree more. There is a reason 8-hour working days were instated, even for uncreative, manual labour.

Most people, including most of the best, are simply more productive and creative if they want to make their time in the office count, rather than count their time in the office.

Having a life is the most important thing in life, and unless you are a founder or have significant equity and can reasonably expect your work to buy you retirement before you are 35-40, then you are exploiting yourself.

hey, I think you misunderstood, please see my comment above.

Life is too short to skimp on health and relationships; these things make you happier than money. So set up personal boundaries, and be willing to walk away if they're violated.

Some will tell you otherwise, but my feeling is that 12-hour days can't (and shouldn't) be maintained for more than short bursts. If you're doing 60+ hour weeks every week, you're going to be less efficient...or you're going to burn out. If someone is pushing you to work that much, then you really have to question why you're there. If you're the one doing the pushing, well...stop. Change your priorities. Work will always be there tomorrow, and you can be successful on a normal schedule.

(that said, long hours are somewhat normal at the start of a new job when everyone is bright-eyed and trying to prove themselves. everything in moderation, including moderation.)

(also, yeah, a lot of people here do online dating.)

I read a study where they found that overtime gives better results for a few weeks, then people become exhausted and LESS productive than the typical 8h/day worker.

I also remember another study showing that after a certain amount of overtime in a day, your brain works at the same capacity as if mildly inebriated.

Sorry, no links, but both should be available online.

I've seen almost no good data on this, but a few suggestions that (at least in construction), the extra hours worked compensate for the lower productivity. You get more done in 60 hours than 40, which certainly fits my experience.


This paper (paywall, sorry) suggests a 10% increase in time worked only reduces productivity by 2.4% (in manufacturing).


The little empirical evidence I've seen suggests the OP will produce more if she works more. This certainly fits my experience.

But if anyone has good data sources on knowledge workers, I'd love to see it. There isn't actually much good data out there.

Here's an article about that, "Bring back the 40-hour work week": http://www.salon.com/2012/03/14/bring_back_the_40_hour_work_...

You never really "have" time, you only ever "make" time.

Make dating and gym time something that you actually care deeply about (instead of - "hmm, I guess those are things I should probably do") and watch your schedule restructure itself.

I know this sounds simplistic, but it really is that simple.

You're 20 (something), you will learn and grow, you will need less time to bring 12 hours of your current work value to your startup. Just make sure to start at filling the time before you get there, otherwise you will feel lost once you do (and thus fill your time with even more work, leading to burnout). Add some pressure by taking breaks - try to work less, deliberately, while keeping up the amount of work you turn out. You will end up more satisfied with your work.

Eventually you will find that only the stuff you do outside your work - getting outside and being with people - make you really productive.

(And yes, as others have said, 12 hours sounds like you're already being burned out. Not really a healthy start in any shape or form.)

I can't speak for SF since I'm in London, but at the beginning of this year I decided to kick the habit of staying late and got back into regular muay thai training. I have a class 4 times a week at 7pm, so I have to leave the office at about 6 to make it.

At first I felt like I was letting the team down or whatever, because I was used to a) spending a lot more time physically in the office and b) judging other people by how early they left. However, I'm in a much better place now- I realised your brain doesn't just stop when you leave the office anyway, so you are still "working" on things really when you are not there, and you will feel better when you are there. 8-10 hours (I do 8-6) is still plenty of time to get a lot of work done! Personally I also felt a lot better letting my team lead know that I have a class every day at 7pm, and that I feel it has a reasonable priority in my life. Though sometimes things like production issues or late calls do come up, this made it easier for me to be out the door when I need to be.

Same as what other commenters said. Working 9-9 is unhealthy.

Maybe try doing 9-9 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, if you can keep up with that rhythm, and then do 9-6 on Mon-Wed-Fri. That'll leave you plenty of time for social life and working out.

And then, you have the weekends too.

As far as dating: meetup.com can be good for finding like minded individuals, otherwise stuff like Nightlife at Academy of Sciences, gallery openings, etc. are great for meeting random new people from a different world (as a person in tech, I could never date someone from tech). OKCupid always works as a last resort.

It's not healthy to work 9-9. I find that working long hours doesn't make me accomplish more. There are times to work long hours when you are close to completing a project but it's not sustainable as a lifestyle. You can start by working less on the days you need to go to the gym like 3 days a week. And then explore dating on the weekends.

Assuming you find a boyfriend, will you have time for him?

If you say, I will make time.. then it is even more important to make time for yourself first (In my opinion)

Online dating is very popular in SF, however it is not the only way to find a partner. I never felt comfortable with it, and it took me time but eventually found a person I like.

Finding a good partner is a hard, especially when you are in school anymore. It will take time.

To quote Scotty from Star Trek Generations, "Well like you always say, if something's important, you'll make the time."

This. It's all about discipline. I work weird and crazy hours but always find time to work out. To the point that I've completed 4 half-ironmans and 1 ironman in the last 2.5 years. You can always find time, just make it.

One of the most common and most annoying things I encountered at university was the number of students (male and female) who were unable to find time in their schedules to go out and live life.

Fake busyness is probably one of the least attractive things that a person can display, in my opinion.

I suggest you look at both your career and your dating as very similar things. You (a 20-something female in techie-SF), are in high demand in both areas.

Just do not fall for the myth that the right guy(#) or the right job will just come along. You have to go and find it. The clever part is maximising the surface area you have "out there" whilst keeping a quality reputation.

I suggest the following:

1. Decide roughly your ideal company / man (see (#) below)

If you cannot write a paragraph about the ideal that really knocks your socks off, then you do not know what you want. This is then the time to sample many different types and determine which suits you best.

2. Be aware of the local landscape - Angellist is good here as is OKCupid. However nothing beats meeting people face to face. Go to networking events. (Both kinds)

Whilst this may seem a little light hearted please remember this one important truth:

The best dates / jobs will come from mutual acquaitances able to connect you both. So this means expanding the people whom you know - spending all your time in one office with one set of people will limit the fish you can catch. So attend networking events, of both kinds, and remember its a sellers market.

Its your twenties. Have fun.

(#) broad assumption that you are hetro, but if not its still a sellers market it seems.

Thanks for the two-step plan! It's easier said than done. I agree with going to networking events. Good point. If I go to at least one a week I should be able to build a good network here (I hope). I want to avoid online dating to meet people. It feels very impersonal and must be awkward. Having lived/worked in London, UK, I am aware that metropolitan cities are full of singles - it's very counterintuitive.

I suspect it's not that counter-intuitive.

You are more likely to be single when young, you are more able to move to where the jobs are when single, therefore cities will attract young single people looking for work. As they couple up and have kids the attractions of larger house and garden increases and we old folk move out.

Good luck on the business and personal sides

As somebody who balances startup life and dating in San Francisco, I'm surprised by the comments on this thread so far.

Like most things at a startup, there are cycles. Sometimes work is 9-6, sometimes its 9-9. Consistency is uncommon, especially at the earlier stages. While you might not have time to date at the moment, you probably will later.

A few points: 1. 9pm is the perfect time to grab a quick bite with friends and head out. There are a ton of great bars / spots which offer a casual environment to be with female / startup / life friends, eat drink and meet guys if you so choose. Ping me for recommendations. 2. The internet (and especially OK Cupid) are great for arranging lots of dates with little effort. 9/10 of the people you meet will be boring or not click, but 1/10 will surprise you. Everyone uses it now, especially as a filler for in between relationships. 3. SF has a great friends-of-friends atmosphere. Go to parties. 4. Learn to love a busy schedule. You can easily cram more into life by going out after work, still getting a good nights sleep, and going back to work the next day. If you're only working M-F, it'll be the most active time of your life.

It's good to hear from someone who is balancing both. I chose to work for a startup so I am aware that somedays I will be putting in a lot of hours and energy but I just haven't actually gone through it yet (like I am now) and am realizing it's easy to get sucked in. I'm interested in finding out where these places you suggest are. I've also heard OKCupid is the site that people in the Bay Area use. That will be a last resort for me because it's so impersonal. I really admire people who can do it all. Thanks for the really good points.

You can't "find time for X while working for a startup", that simply does no happen. If X is important for you, then you'll have to make time for X.

Stand up from your desk and go to a party/pub to meet people.

Schedule your gym times; and if you have no time to go to gym that evening - then go anyway. You'll be better off that way.

> if you have no time to go to gym that evening - then go anyway. You'll be better off that way.

Seconded. "I have no time" is often code for being overworked, and it's probably the moment where you need to get your mind off of obligations , if only for a small chunk of time

I probably work comparable hours at a startup, and still find time to work out and socialize. You can get a great workout in under an hour if you don't live or work too far from your gym, and a couple workouts a week can go a long way. There have been tons of threads here on strength training and crossfit with tips on how to maximize your time.

Even if you work 9-9 three or four weekdays a week, that still leaves at least one weeknight for meeting up with someone for drinks/dinner/social activity, plus weekends. I find that's more than enough time -- I generally have drinks with my coworkers Friday after work, have a social activity with friends on Saturday, and brunch or something on Sunday, and leave Sunday evening for chores.

I feel like I have a pretty full and balanced life, but of course ymmv.

Pitch it to your boss as things which will increase your performance, which is what they are ultimately worried about.

If get a two hour lunch break where I get to go to the gym, my afternoon will be more productive and more than make up for the lost hour.

Welcome to the eternal dilemma of geeks everywhere. When there's so much to do how do we find time to do anything else. The answer probably is we don't. You're just going to have to find your priority and stick with it whatever it is.

I feel like the Bay Area is epitome of this dilemma. I sometimes wonder if we are actually making up more stuff to do, or if there is actually more stuff to do than before. Always being connected to work through your device doesn't help either. Attention spans are now limited. I agree, I will need to consciously shift my priorities and stick with it, but most likely will take time to adjust and feel out what works best.

If you are talented, you just need to keep asking, "What's the worst thing that could happen?"

Find a gym near the office, and get into a routine where you can go, workout, shower, and be back at the office in 70 minutes. Do it 3 times a week. What's the worst thing that could happen? If they dislike what you're doing, you'll hear about it before they fire you. Then you start looking.

Same thing with dating. Leave work at 7 for the date. What's the worst thing that will happen?

That said, you have to be good. People won't rock the boat with talented employees. If you're not good, it's tougher. And yes, people use online dating too.

If this startup is your passion, sometime it's alright to sacrifice something for greater benefit, but if you just work at there as an ordinary employee, better find other place.

To answer your real question, I suggest friday to sunday as "not working day" don't think anything about job even deadline is short, just hangout and do what you like.

For dating people, is good to have partner that understand fully your workload, because understanding is important key to successful relationship.

Don't go to gym just for work out, running 15-30 minutes a day it's the best to keep your health, you can run with your partner or friends.

Don't feel bad working "only" 40 hours per week. No company ever failed because its employees only worked for 40 hours per week. Plenty of companies fail every day because they don't have compelling products. Compelling products don't need to be complicated, but have to be useful. Identifying usefulness is something that comes when we aren't busy running all the time, but take a step back and think about where we actually want to go. Working 40 hours per week is more productive in this regard than working 60 hours per week.

I had and still have a girlfriend when I entered the startup scene. I pick work, her, and sleep. I skip the exercise and I feel fine. Not sustainable forever though, but it'll do for now.

If they don't have any prejudice towards telecommuting, even if you live close by, it tends to streamline your life. If you're telecommuting, working twelve hours a day isn't that difficult, provided you don't get distracted. Just commit to spending a certain amount of time per day, in a block, and then disperse the rest of your hours throughout the day as your schedule allows. See if you can work from home and come into the office a couple times a week.

Don't fall for this trap. Don't work more than 40 hours a week unless you have ownership or significant equity.

"Crunch time" is bullshit. It's a form of psychological warfare to get you to work more 99% of the time.

Don't listen to this and learn the hard way by burning out, then your startup will run out of money, you'll find another job, and realize that those extra hours were unnecessary. Or listen to people here, and go to the gym and go on dates and standup for yourself.

People clearly didn't understand the question and are having a visceral reaction to the fact that this woman said 'startup' which ironic given that this is hackernews. Even people who work at Google Facebook etc all work 9-9. I don't know a single person that doesn't work more than 8 hours a day including fashion, media, event planning, medicine, banking, consulting, etc etc.

I make time, for a while I found the only time I had was an hour in the morning - so I did my gym workout then, and then went to work. Things have settled down a bit since then.

I've been with my girlfriend since before my career so I can't comment on dating so much, but we do find that we have to set a day aside every now and again where it's just us and no other distractions.

Life-work balance. You'll burn yourself out doing 12 hour days. It takes quite a while to recoup once you get to the point where you're staring past people. Perhaps you need a better balance. Set boundaries. You may actually get more done during the workday because you're giving your mind time to think when doing other very beneficial things.

Ask your employer if you can take out 4h/week during the day to visit the gym. Quite unlikely that your employer will say no and then you can go to the gym 2 times a week.

Done. :)

As for dating, I'd squeeze that in by leaving at 8pm instead of 9pm and on the weekends.

Thanks I will try this. A healthier body and mind should lead to better work results.

Hah. I basically don't which is something I'm trying to change too.

Time is your most precious asset, you can't make more of it.

Buy a bike, bike commute to work, date the guy at the bike shop (he will be fit and can fix your bike).

Nice one :) Two birds with one stone - biking in SF is very challenging.

Run for your life. Seriously. You only get one. Every hour is an investment in your future — if it doesn't pay dividends, it is lost, you might as well burn it playing video games or lying in the park (which is probably more fun). Note that the least interesting dividends are money; the best are love, friendship, helping others, novel experiences, travel, fun, relaxation, learning.

Glory isn't real. The harshest lesson of success is that the "feeling" of success is extremely brief -- hours, days -- if you ever feel it at all. (Most don't. So they keep trying to hit higher and higher peaks in order to feel something, but the feeling comes from inside, not from outside, so no achievement will cause it to arise.)

If you are 20-something and you want a partner, or a family, you better work on that now. If you want to live life on your own terms, you better start on that now. If you want to live a healthy life… you can't waste time.

So many "young people" I know think that they have time. They're waiting for real life to happen. Well, you don't have time and real life is now. What's 20-something…? Then 30s. Then 40s. Then what? When's the good stuff going to happen? Never, if you wait for it.

Really good point. People always say 20's is when life happens. But it's pulling me in both directions, either you enjoy your 20's by enjoying life (i.e. more focused on social life) or you heed the advice of older successful businessmen who say you should sow during your 20's and reap later on.

You need a guy, then you'll find time :) Seriously. You should go to parties, do crazy things, and get drunk sometimes with best friends. If you don't study, go to college. It will be the best part of your life.

Work will not run away anywhere. It will wait for you. So use your time wisely, you have only one life.

Most of the people work, so they can earn, so they can live good enough. I think that you, like many others, went off a little from that track.

Best wishes.

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