Founders · Startup

What ideas have you thought about that could help founders and tech workers have more balanced/sustainable lives and still be more productive?

Martina Glorens Lead Copywriter bei MeMyselfAndI

October 7th, 2016

As an example here sleep deprivation is endemic in the startup world.

Joseph Wang Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories

October 7th, 2016

It's a matter of psychology and economics rather than technology.

First of all, there is no technology fix.  The reason for this is that if you have technology that allows you to do something that takes 10 hours in 10 minutes, what will happen is that people will then use those 10 hours to do something else.

The root issue is psychology and economics.  The psychology comes in when you believe that you will make a bizillion dollars if you keep working nonstop and you will be bankrupt if you relax.  As long as you or your company believes that, you aren't going to get a good work/life balance.  One way of getting around that is to look at these realistically, and see if it is true.  Also, one other thing is to look at it and see that even if it true, you run into a situation where people just have limits.

The economics comes in because if you get a salary of $X, your employer is incentivized to squeeze every last hour out of you.  The way around that is to think of some alternative forms of compensation (i.e. as a consultant, I get paid by the billable hour).  Also, it helps if you have a good project manager, because they realize that if your developers are spending 100 hours a week doing something, then they are likely generating code that will need 1000 hours to fix.  Finally, there are some systemic issues with time.  One thing about the standard corporate IT work environment is that it's highly taboo for people to talk about salaries, because this lets management play people off against each other.  The trouble with that is that you can reward an employee with extra money, because no one sees that, but you can't reward an employee with time off because everyone sees that and will demand similar things.

And then there is dealing with your own psychology.  One thing that I've found is that when I'm depressed or agitated or stressed, I start working.  One trick that I've found that works pretty will when I feel that I'm in "do or die" mode is that I start coding, and I just keep coding without sleep for a few days until I'm totally exhausted and I crash and burn, and I cannot physically work for a few days.  Doing this as an independent consultant requires a bit of scheduling to make sure that I don't crash in the wrong time. 

Doing this in a corporate environment can work pretty well if you have a good manager that sees that doing this maximizes productivity.  The way you get this to work is to have some sort of deadline (i.e. a release with a fixed date), and then everyone goes insane to hit the deadline, but once you hit the deadline, everyone just crashes.