8 hour day???

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Joel --

Egads!! How can we let our programmers read your site anymore now that you've declared 8hrs/day is A-O-K? What happened to that die hard MS work ethic?


-- Anonymous, June 08, 2001


I'm looking forward to reading 'Slack'. Tom DeMarco is certainly one of my favorite technical authors, and 'Peopleware' is also one of my favorite books.

I've been into slack for a long time. I've always worked a 'normal' day, i.e. whatever the standard of the company, 7 to 8 hours. I also take an hour for lunch - not eating at my desk, but outside, breathing outdoor (I hesitate to say 'fresh') air, walking around, and, yes, actually eating lunch. I don't work overtime. Yes, when something is really bad and/or important, I stick around to get it done. I occasionally have been called in the evening when something I've done has failed. I was called in the middle of the night just once. (I just have to put in here that that once was when the change I made was to optimize a process, and they called me at 2am because it ran too fast!)

Let me be the first to tell you that I'm no genius. But I'm bright and bushy tailed when I come in in the morning - I haven't been up working all night. When I come back from lunch, I often have subconsciously solved some problem I was working on in the morning. I'm as productive in the afternoon as I am in the morning. AND I spend lots of time with my family, as well as in other enjoyable activities, the elimination of which I would consider life- threatening.

And I can't think of a single project I've worked on where I wasn't the most productive developer. And not a single manager has yet to make the connection. And I'M the one who picks up the slack for the ones who have 'worked' themselves to burnout and can't finish their tasks. I can't wait until my mode of operation is the standard.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2001

Wondeful post!

When I come back from lunch, I often have subconsciously solved some problem I was working on in the morning. I can't tell you how many times spending a few hours away from my computer has helped me solve a difficult problem. I also can't recount how many times I've stayed up all night trying to solve an equally troubling problem, only to find the problem easy to solve once I took a break. It takes a very disciplined mind to be able to step away from a problem once it seems unsolvable.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2001

I agree entirely with the previous posts and have had similar experiences. Another aspect of the whole issue is the way businesses have used the notion of "exempt" (that is, salaried) employees to change the terms of employment. When I agree to take a job, it is with the tacit understanding that the normative work week in the US is 40 hours. If an employer expects more than 40 hours a week, then I would expect my compensation to rise correspondingly. If it doesn't, I'm earning less than I agreed to.

I've found it helpful to actually clarify my position on standard working hours with employers before taking the position. So far (3 employers) I haven't had any object to it. So either they don't believe me when I tell them I only work 40 hours a week, or there is a wider acceptance of normal working hours than we might guess from the mythology of the industry.

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2001

Jeff: I've had nasty fights with employers who appear to believe that having signed on for a 40 hour week (plus the inevitable times when one needs to hang around, of course), they're entitled to suddenly, at whim start imposing extra demands; the most popular was flipping pagers at people and declaring they were now on-call.

Flat out refusing worked well for me, but it seems to work with enough people to make it worthwhile for some to take a gamble on.

FWIW, I find forcing myself to my nominal number of hours makes me more productive. I waste less time during the day.

-- Anonymous, June 14, 2001

Back in the 1970's in the UK we had a strike which led to the government imposing 3-day working weeks as a means of rationing power use. My company convinced us to work 3 14-hour days to keep things going. Even with 4-day breaks we were all totally dog-tired. It didn't last. However we did some research & discovered that the British Army had measured time v productivity around the beginning of the 20th century. Productivity falls slowly from the start of the day until about 8 hours, drops more between 8 to 9.5 hours, & goes off the edge of a cliff after that. Draw your own conclusions. Working a normal day is good for you & everyone else as well, I'd say.

-- Anonymous, August 28, 2001

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