A day in the life of a TechCrunch Hackathon Finalist

Nick Halavins
Oct 5 · 5 min read

Today is Saturday, the weekend after we reached the Finals of TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon.

I planned to sleep as long as possible to recover. I woke up at 8.40 am and felt like I wanted to sleep a bit more. My mind was full of thoughts:

  • I should check if Apple has approved the latest version of the Snaper app we created at the Hackathon
  • Has TechCrunch already posted an article or video from the finals?
  • Should I send the information to any mass media letting them know that a software engineer, born in Latvia, performed so well in such tough competition?
  • Just 4 days ago I thought that it would be cool to create an app that would get the interest from SnapChat and might be sold to them later; just in 2 days we’ve built the app and even managed to present it to the founder of SnapChat, Evan Spiegel, which was beyond our expectations

I have so much energy that I can sleep no more. Now my brain starts analyzing the reasons for that:

- What is the real cause I can’t sleep even when my body wants it? Why am I in such a hurry? It’s Saturday morning. What happens if I sleep a bit longer?

- No, I have to check if the Apple approved the update of the app right now.

- Ok, you check the status of the app. What next?

- Next, I gonna check if TechCrunch has published any video from the stage where we presented our work as finalists.

- What is the core reason for me doing that? Why now? Why not on Monday? Which kind of stimulus is that? What makes me wake up?

Ok, so the core reasons are the chains of impulses sent by the rewarding system of my brain which makes us do things important for survival. What’s important for my survival nowadays is to always have a shelter, strong health and a happy family. In my past, I worked hard and responded immediately to every opportunity provided to me by the external world. It helped me to create multimillion-dollar worth companies, marry a smart and beautiful woman, and move to Silicon Valley. My brain learned that fast responsive behavior is the key to success and so it motivates me following the same path today, no matter if it’s Monday or Saturday. To make it more interesting the brain not only gives me the energy spurts but also pleasure. It tells me: make the new app popular as soon as possible and it will be good for you. To make the failure to follow these motivations miserable the brain tells me that if I don’t do what I succeeded to do in my past, I may lose the opportunity and will be stressed.

The funny thing is that I don’t really need to create as many popular products as possible, and I don’t need to become a billionaire. My life doesn’t last forever, and my health either. Billions of dollars won’t buy me a new spine. I had the surgery on my spine several years ago because of my hard work. So, I have to arrange the priorities of my life in such a way that I would be both healthy and prosperous whatever I do. If I work 14 hours per day like I used to just a few years ago, my body and mind won’t last long. The energy resources I have will vanish. On the contrary, if I don’t work at all, my mind will lose it’s abilities because the brain works just like a muscle based on the principle “use it or lose it”.

The real success is not just the money or power you get because of hard work and being nice to everyone. You can’t be really successful if you just have a lot of money. The core of success is the right balance to live a long, safe, healthy, and happy life. This all sounds very awesome and promising, but what should I do on Saturday morning, when my body wants to sleep and my brain just doesn’t give me a chance? Am I correct when asking myself this question?

So, I started asking myself deeper questions to identify if I’m trying to do something good or bad for my survival.

- How long have I slept?

- 8 hours.

- Isn’t that enough?

- It should be enough. But what is that feeling that makes me feel like I want more?

- Well, maybe your mind overworked on the business days because you had to develop the app 24/7 to launch it in record 2 days at the Hackathon and present it on stage in front of a huge crowd. That’s absolutely normal, but you definitely don’t need to sleep more if you can’t. You may spend the weekend doing your hobbies, reading books, and exercising. It will all help you to recover because switching the activities is crucial for that.

- Should I follow the rewarding impulses of my brain and respond to the latest news regarding my work?

- Well, it seems like you’ve got a lot of energy now and it may even take more energy just to stop these impulses. It doesn’t look like these impulses will make your body suffer. How long will it take you to check the response from Apple and TechCrunch? An hour? How about this: you do this work now and next business week you spend a whole day in full isolation from information technologies because you overworked during the Hackathon?

- But what will the other people think of such a solution? They will think I am lazy and don’t want to work.

- You definitely know it’s not true. You are the most hardworking person I know, and the results of your work have always shown that. Who are these people? Who are you talking about?

- My employees, business partners, friends, subscribers. Whenever I post something online there is always someone who says “Go back to work”.

- Who are these people who say such things to you? Are they perfect examples of survival? Do you want to live like them?

- No.

- Or maybe it was someone who showed you the example of the hard work when you were a child and you unconsciously copied her lifestyle? Maybe it’s someone like your grandma, for instance, who worked days and nights as a doctor and almost spent no time with her children?

- Maybe.

- Do you want your future children to not get enough attention from you and suffer?

- No.

- Do you want your future children to follow your example of working hard days and nights at the expense of their health?

- No.

- So, do the right thing for your family and everyone who follows you: learn how to rest.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade