Cutoff Time

My name is Jason, and I'm a workaholic. I have been for as long as I can remember and it's got to stop before my health starts to show more obvious signs of the deterioration that's on display every time I see myself in the shower-room mirror. It's hard, though, because of the nagging feeling that I'm never accomplishing enough during the day.

All Nighter.jpg

Over the last couple of months I've had a really hard time of balancing my responsibilities. In the mornings I spend time with the boy and Nozomi. From noon to six I try to focus on work, and sometimes this bleeds over to 7 o'clock. From then I'm "on hold" until the evening meetings begin at 9:30pm and I work straight through until 1:30~2:00am. This is my schedule five days a week, rain or shine. All in all, I'm working 15 hours a week less now than at this time last year, but staying awake until two only to wake up again five hours later1.

This is me doing this. Not my employer. Not my family. Not my creditors2. As per my employment contract, I am required to work 8 hours a day and should stop at 9 unless I have written permission from a manager allowing for overtime3. The average for the last three months has been 11 hours 28 minutes, which is more than twice the amount of time spent in bed.

Something's got to change, and it needs to involve a very clear "gtfo" message.

This is what I'll do:

  • set the network router to reject all traffic to and from my development notebook between 1:00am and 7:00am
  • let overseas colleagues know that I'll be available for meetings until 12:30am local time (10:30am Eastern Time, 4:30pm in Germany)
  • be in bed by 1:00am

Granted, this will reduce my working day by just an hour. However, little steps will be easier to accommodate than something a little more severe like a midnight or earlier cutoff. For special occasions, such as when I'm working nights for an entire week to remotely participate in corporate workshops and seminars, the network cutoff time will be shifted but kept in operation. The phone and tablets will continue to have access to the network, as will the web server (obviously), as none of these machines are used for active development. Even I will know that it's foolish to continue to write SQL statements and work with data loading operations via a phone.

While there's little chance of me ever losing the irrepressible desire to go, go, go, turning my primary tool into a digital island should force me to stand up and walk away for a little bit.

  1. on a good day, mind you.

  2. Fortunately I'm in a position to pay all of my bills on time every month. This would have seemed impossible 15~20 years ago thanks to the large chunk going towards the student loan.

  3. This is generally not enforced with me within the organisation. Some of my colleagues are held to the 9-hour maximum pretty severely, though.