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Si for CodeTips

Posted on • Originally published at codetips.co.uk on

I don't code outside of work

I've been a developer for about 6 years now, and I love my job. I've found a decent company, an awesome working environment, and I actually enjoy being a software engineer.

Unfortunately, in this industry, there can be an expectation that you'll be doing it in your own time, on your own projects, to keep up with new technologies.

Well, I'm here to tell you it's not a requirement to being successful.

Sure I've done my own projects, with varying levels of success, but they were born out of interest not requirement.

I have a young family, so any time not spent working goes on them. I could have probably learnt {insert newest JavaScript framework here}, but personal life is important.

Put whatever time you can into it, and don't feel guilty if you can't give more.


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Top comments (26)

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oglesson profile image
Sophie Oglesson

I've been needing to hear this from another dev recently. Having left my latest job for having no career progression and generally being stagnant, I've been struggling to learn React as I've been intending due to work and pre schooler. Only one company I've spoken to so far (out of about 10) have actually understood this situation. It's very disheartening.

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author

Work life balance is very hard in this industry, but just believe there are companies that will see your value without requiring overtime.

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p12y profile image
Peter Tyldesley

My feelings are the same recently. I used to code every chance I got, all weekend, before/after work, you name it. After coming very close to a burnout I've realised how important it is to have a break and put the computer down for a while. This is a marathon, not a sprint and you have to look after your mental health. That means taking time off, getting out in nature and not spending every waking moment learning yet another framework or language.

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joancomasfdz profile image
Joan Comas Fernandez • Edited on

I would like to add that you don't need to have a family to deserve your well earned spare time.

Feel like coding? Go ahead. Don't? Just enjoy whatever you enjovy the most.

Don't feel pressure from Uncle Bob to do 60h a week (40 + training) . Not everyone needs to be #1. Or at least not permanently. You can have an amazing life both professionally and privately being the #7.

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author • Edited on

Absolutely. It is just the reason I don't have the time anymore.

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michalslowikowski00 profile image
mislo

I think this is a senior dev perspective. What about beginers like me? It is different, I think. I feel that I should spent all my free time with code as I can. After two months of very intensive work with task which have too little requirements makes me feel very bad. I observed that pushed away work on the task. I have started to focus on other things like mails, slack, other worthless stuff. I have noticed know that I don't much skill to resolve task on my own. This weekend I have detox from my task and code at all, I did not even open my PC whole weekend. I spend time with family. Nevertheless I fell that I should make my own project as much as I can but my actual task exhausting me.

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db1996 profile image
db1996

I'm a junior back end dev and I'll tell you I stopped coding as a hobby completely.

There's obviously no need, I'm good at what I do, and I'm confident. I don't need to put all this extra work into it.

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grumpytechdude profile image
Alex Sinclair

I know that feeling well - there's both a pressure to do your own thing, and when things are bad at work, you want to do a good thing to make up for it!

My first programming job was a year of stress and overtime. I never saw my partner. I was almost never home in my tiny flat in a town I hated. Then I realised I literally don't have to accept that. I started working my contracted hours. My code got better, my solutions got better!

I know how you feel, but doing more of what makes you stressed could well burn you out properly, and it's not worth it.

I've been a developer for 6 years, and I almost never code outside of work, I never really have, and I've still got a great job.

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author

On the contrary, I'd say the expectation is worse for senior Devs. You're effectively paid to be at the top of your game, and to be aware of all the new stuff coming out.

As a beginner you shouldn't be expected to know everything, or do everything right. You're still learning after all.

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albertomontalesi profile image
AlbertoM

I think that if your company expects you to always be updated they should set aside a certain amount of hours for training. I enjoy doing side projects but I shouldn't be forced to self study 1-2 hours everyday just because my company expects me to always be updated. I guess that would count as overtime since I'm effectively honing my skills to please my company (regardless of the fact that it's gonna be helpful for me too as an individual).

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tamouse profile image
Tamara Temple

i think this can apply to everyone, not just beginners.

this industry is hard on its practitioners, there is a huge expectation that we will spend hours beyond work, or especially beyond the hours we get paid for, coding.

@si 's point that we shouldn't feel obligated is true, i feel. yet we often still do feel that way.

for beginners, there's a desperation to learn and prove ourselves.

for seniors, there's a desperation to keep up and not become irrelevant.

saying we shouldn't feel so pressed doesn't remove that feeling. most of us don't have the option to find an enlightened employer that puts the strength behind the words of balancing work and life.

here is another chance to take a breath, ensure you're doing what need to do.

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jasperhorn profile image
JasperHorn

I think the expectation also largely depends on your situation.

Personally, I have been programming since I was young. I dislike it when I don't get around to doing programming in my free time. That's not because of expectations of employers (or anyone else, for that matter) but because I like doing it and I want to do more of the programming where I'm free to choose what I want to do.

The thing is, though, that when I'm able to find the time to do programming, it often feels like I'm one of the people at the company who does more of it than most. I mean, I don't talk about it too often, but when I do, I can often tell about the nice thing that I'm working on and why I like it. Most others don't really talk about such things at all, or if they do, are much vaguer about that. This has been the case at multiple different employers.

Maybe that's because of where I live. Maybe it's because of the employers I seem to pick. I don't know. But there definitely seem to be factors at play here.

I should also note that my projects often don't involve "keeping with the latest technologies". Sometimes, I work with things that happen to be new. Other times, I work with something that isn't new at all, but is new to me. Often, my hobby projects have a definite distance from what I do at work (e.g. I don't really use my main programming language at work in my personal projects).

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author

And that's perfectly fine.

If you want to do stuff in your own time, and have the time to do so, it's only ever going to help you.

Perhaps others around you are vague because they don't have the time to do it in their own time, but think that admitting it will make them seem less committed.

Continue doing what you like doing, perhaps just be mindful that others might feel guilty/bad/inadequate so don't push them for further clarity as it might make them feel worse.

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jasperhorn profile image
JasperHorn

Agreed. I don't really push. I'll be excited about my ePaper-based project instead (until my progress runs into the ground and I abandon that project ;) )

It's indeed a good idea not to push (and I'd like to think that I don't). And I'd never say other have to do something like what I'm doing. I was simply describing what I do as the context to a situation where I do not experience pressure to code outside work (and I don't think others do - not too much anyway - either).

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author

I was simply describing what I do as the context to a situation where I do not experience pressure to code outside work (and I don't think others do - not too much anyway - either).

I wasn't inferring you do put pressure on others, my apologies if it came across like that. I was just making an observation based on your reply :-)

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waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

Thanks for the inspiration to focus on what is important ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author

Keep going. You're doing great

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shiraazm profile image
Shiraaz Moollatjie

While it isn't necessary to code at home to be successful, it does assume that you're at a job you love and it uses relatively new technology and practices. It also assumes that you're responsible enough to know when to move to a better job.

Success is also a subjective measurement. So there's that to consider.

What I feel is most important is that people should use their time effectively to what's most important to them. Be it family, a side project, a random hobby.

Basically just don't waste your time. Set your goals and go for it.

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devdrake0 profile image
Si Author • Edited on

While it isn't necessary to code at home to be successful, it does assume that you're at a job you love and it uses relatively new technology and practices.

I don't agree. I love my job, and use new technologies, but I don't code outside of work anymore.

I've also worked in jobs that I haven't loved, and have used new technologies that I'm not interested in (Blockchain) but I have worked extra hours because it was expected.

Being in a company that doesn't expect you to work extra hours is a sign of a good culture.

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grumpytechdude profile image
Alex Sinclair

Well said! Any way we choose to go through life is good enough - let nobody pressure us to do otherwise.

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annihil profile image
a

When you understand that coding outside work don't bring you anything you have already progressed a lot in your life.

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tamouse profile image
Tamara Temple

i would have to say that being able to solve my own problems by coding is both outside work, and gives me a lot. why would i arbitrarily decide to leave tools alone that can benefit me personally?

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annihil profile image
a

Because you have only one life.

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tamouse profile image
Tamara Temple

and i use what i know to make it better

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balbonits profile image
John Dilig

I do feel the same, and I got a tip from a more senior colleague about managing your time AT WORK. Here's how I understood it, and broken down:

(with the assumption that work starts at 10am)
10am-12pm - stand-ups, early meetings, and answering emails/messages

  • use this time to do "office" tasks, get a few needed talks & discussions done here 12-1pm - most likely lunch time (can go over, depends on occasion)
  • make sure to be able to relax, and not get too pressured to do "extra work" 1-4pm - focused/coding time
  • there's the idea of a 4-hour workday, where the most realistic duration of time you're actually "working" is this long. <- definitely a very opinionated statement, so please let me know what you think 4pm onwards - extra time
  • if your office day in 8 hours, you'll have 2 extra hours to do what you need to do (more discussions, learning, emails, etc.)

I was able to try it, until I forgot that I was bad at time management... and completely disregarded the whole thing after a week...

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ivanjjill profile image
IvanJJill

As a dev and a young father I have given up the time I spend watching TV shows for trying new stuff. To be honest I don't regret. It's around 5-6 hours a week, enough to try things out.

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