Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Can Software Developers enjoy their personal life?

Can Software Developers enjoy their personal life?

Normally in any job around the world, you have to work for 40-45 hours a week. But is this really true for a software developer? As a software developer, if you have to grow in your professional life, you have to sacrifice your personal life. This statement is intimidating, but true to some extent. Mainly, the initial years of a software developer are very crucial and you have to work extensively to thrive in your career. Only the lucky software developers get flexible working hours in the office otherwise most of the software developers have to compromise their personal life.

In a software industry, you will have to face:

1. Tight Deadlines
2. Excessive Work Load
3. Staying Late Nights
4. Working on Weekends
5. Code quality and code delivery at same time
6. Bug fixing

If you are a software developer, you have to try hard to maintain work-life balance. Software development is full of uncertainties. Any time any thing can happen in your project and then you have to sit to solve that issue. You always have to think twice before planning your evenings, weekends and holidays as these uncertain and untimely issues can destroy them easily. If you are planning to go for a long holiday, you will have to plan that according to the situation in the project. If you are running through a lot of issues, forget that you will get leaves. You have to inform your manager months ago for your holiday plans otherwise just forget it.

Single vs Married vs Parent Developers

If you are still single, that's fine. You can stay late evenings, you can come on weekends etc. You can also take excessive work load and pressure because at this stage of life you don't have to care about other troubles of your life (except your girlfriend, if you have :) ) as your personal life is smooth till now. But once you get married, you get extra personal life responsibilities on your shoulder. Now you also have to care about your life partner. You also have to give sufficient amount of your time to her/him. You cannot come stay late in office every evening, cannot come to office every weekend etc. etc. The situation becomes worst after kids. At this stage of life, you really have to struggle hard to maintain work life balance otherwise you will not be able to see your kids growing.

Advice to software developers:

1. It depends on how you handle the situation and your skill. However, to survive in the any kind of stream, you should invest your time for atleast 2 to 3 years in that domain and understand clearly. Then you will go into a better position in that stream and you can do well with balanced life. I mean, after you understand clearly about what you do, then only you can prioritize the work properly and can live balanced life with work and family. There are lot of companies which expects only 40 hours of work. Even there, if you fail to deliver, you should put more time and complete the work.

2. Companies take advantage of eager graduates and workaholic tendencies. Just refuse to fall into the pressure to extend hours. If companies can't deal with that, then your better off looking for a new employer. When interviewing at new jobs, it would be good to find out what their overtime policies are. If they have real overtime policies that involve giving you respectable amounts of money for working late, they're probably not as likely to ask for 60-hour work weeks (though I would try to talk to other employees there to get an idea of what actually goes on).

3. Product companies have better working hours compared to Service Oriented companies. So try to get into product companies. But product companies are limited as compared to software oriented companies. 


  1. Just say NO.
    1. Tight deadlines? I've seen the worst code come out from those. So one day I went to my boss and told him "now I'll do TDD and take the time to do it well". Incredibly, I wasn't fired. Maybe... because my code had less bugs than before?
    2. Excessive work load? Why, your company does not want to hire more persons? In the end you'll end up in the same situation than (1), basically paying for the company's greed and being forced of doing shitty work. Sorry, but I'd rather apply somewhere else.
    3. Late nights? No good, same as (1). You can exceptionally do it if the team is going through hard times, but then ask yourself "How come we ended up this way? Tight deadlines? Too much work for one's shoulders?".
    4. Working on weekends? Oh I do that, but not for my employer. I do it for myself, working on Open Source or learning new stuff. because I enjoy it, not because my employer asks me to. Again, if you work on weekends for your employer, then your employer is unable to reasonably plan a project.
    5. Code quality and code delivery: but of course! Ten lines of delivered quality code are far more valuable than 100 crappy lines that you must debug 10 times before they work right, right? So we agree on that.
    6. Bug fixing? Inevitable of course, we're only but humans. But then again: why did I get that bug? I didn't catch while writing my unit tests? Why is that? See, every bug I get ignites two questions: "how to I fix it" and "how did I allow that to get through? (shame on me!)".
    Doing overtime ends up in you being miserable and in the company having to deal with half-baked applications.
    Think of it: are you working to be miserable? And make your company miserable?
    I went there: I was not happy with what I was producing as a developer. So I said NO. And now my work has improved, and I'm still employed.
    Just say NO.
    That and read "The Clean Coder" where Uncle Bob explains these situations better than anyone else.

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