When To Work Hard

I’m an engineer. For some reason people don’t expect engineers to work hard. Come in at 10? Sure! Play the office xbox? Why not. Get that first beer in at 4pm? We’ll buy it for you.

I’m not saying engineers don’t work hard, but there’s a difference with other white-collar jobs like sales or finance. I live with a couple of bankers and they work much longer hours. They have less perks and a lot of times they aren’t paid more.

The reason this is try is that engineers can add tremendous value. That’s why they get all these perks.

They can add even more value if they work less hours. With a clear and rested mind it’s easier to make good decisions and break through problems quicker. A rested engineer is a smart engineer.

But sometimes that isn’t true. Sometimes someone needs to step up and grind out a big piece of work under pressure. That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago.

We had to do a big integration that all of our clients were asking for, and it had to happen ASAP. No-one was sure how to do it. I came in early, we discussed the problem for a bit and decided on a approach. I got to work.

For the next ten hours I was focussed. I didn’t leave my desk for lunch, I wasted no time on email or hacker news or office chatter. Ten hours of intense concentration and hard work. Everything was in my mind and it had to get out. I had to learn how a GraphDB worked, the Cypher querying language and various other new technology.

But because I was in so deep, because I had no distractions it worked. A feature like this would have normally taken days and multiple people. But now the time-pressure helped me jump obstacles and take the right short-cuts. Because I was so immersed I was able to get so much done.

I didn’t complete the feature entirely that day. Even though I was tired and got home late I was excited to get up early and start working again.

Could I work like this every day? No. But when it happens it’s good to know that I can stand up and finish the task. Hard work is important. Make sure you recognise when.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.