The steady effort we put in to become a better developer can be redirected when needed.  This surge effort can provide us the extra steam we need to get a project done.  Likewise, it can provide a steady flow of effort that allows us to avoid the usual ebb and flow of IT work.  All of that can lead to less exhaustion, more productivity, and a generally better mood.  Happy and healthy are traits most of us prefer to have.

The Surge Effort

There are horror stories about the “pointy-haired boss” that decides to cancel vacations, weekends, and even going home to hit a deadline.  While these are sometimes a reality, it is more common to be asked to work longer hours to get a schedule back on track.  We may not even be asked to put in that extra time.  Sometimes we just find ourselves putting more effort into work than others.  This extra time can come from our non-work life and, while not lasting long, can still be a negative impact.  We reduce the negative impact by planning for the new high level of commitment and make it a surge effort that pulls from better developer hours instead.

Personal Relationships

A common victim of our increased time requirements is our personal relationships.  A “date night” gets cut short, or we miss out on a game with our sports team.  That is a negative impact that can hit us immediately when the boss needs more effort from us.  When we have already incorporated time in our schedule for professional development, we can pull from that instead.  It is time we were already going to “work” so it can be a buffer for our personal life.  A surge effort may never even be noticed by others in this situation.

A Temporary Measure

While we can withstand life’s emergency deployments and bug fixing sessions, these still should not be the norm.  The impact of halting our professional improvement will not be a problem in the short term.  We may fall a little behind, but that is something that can be caught up.  The problem is when a short term push turns into a death march, and our professional development grinds to a halt.

Episode Challenge: What is the best average work hours for ou to put in each week and maintain a good quality of life?

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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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