The Stress Of Being A Computer Programmer Will Drive You Crazy

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Programming can put you in a mental institution? Is it just me or does this whole article sound like it was made up? And what's up with that guy's unbuttoned shirt?

He was one of the hardest workers I had seen in the industry. He would frequently stay after hours to work on projects; He was always available when management needed someone to rush a job out over the weekend.... His willingness to push himself to get a job done is what they liked about him. However, his productivity was not so great when he landed in a mental institution.
 

somecallmeTim

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Sounds like fluff to me .. the coders I know probably shouldn't have been let out of the institution ;)
 

Megalith

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...so programmers use AVID keyboards to write code now? Another fine piece of female-written tech journalism.
 

Justintoxicated

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As a developer I think this is somewhat legitimate. On the other hand there really are a lot of imposters and real programmers. Most people however fall somewhere in between the two extremes. One common question I get asked at job interviews is how much software I write in my spare time outside of work, and to show them something I have written in my spare time. I don't really write code outside work, but I have started to blog a few notes to Jar my memory in the future.
 

drescherjm

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One is something known as the "imposter syndrome." That's when you're pretty sure that all the other coders you work with are smarter, more talented and more skilled than you are.

Hmm. I think I suffer from the opposite..
 

dgz

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...so programmers use AVID keyboards to write code now? Another fine piece of female-written tech journalism.

A friend of mine programs knitting machines on some pretty old hardware. I remember their keyboards - hooked to weird looking huge computer cubes - looking even weirder than this one.

I remember them using punch cards back in the day. That was a lot of work.
 

ZenDragon

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I love my job... and its exactly the opposite; I feel like all the other programmers I work with are idiots and that they would be useless without me. What does that mean? lol!

Impostor syndrome??? I'm definitely not the best programmer I know, but I think if you feel like all the other programmers are better than you that's because they are. On the occasion that I find a programmer that is better than me, I do everything I possibly can to learn as much as possible from them. Meaning volunteering my time to work with them, having some humility and admitting you want to learn what they know, and basically just apply some critical thinking to their area of expertise. I've found that most of those people are more than willing to teach, as like me they probably find it incredibly frustrating when they have to solve everybody else's problems.

You don't further your career as a programmer by working more hours, you do it by challenging yourself and learning from the "better" programmers that you work with. Share in the insanity at least! :)
 

Quix

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Businessinsider is about as reliable as the National Enquirer.

I work as a programmer and I don't think there is such as thing as "Imposter Syndrome" but there is a problem some people have with work/life balance. Some people work tonnes of extra hours and it seriously affects their productivity. It's much worse. If you work too many hours in a day you get sloppy, which requires a lot of fixes after the fact. I normally try to work no more than 7.5 hours every day to avoid burnout and it normally works.

The best part is that it really helps you keep loving what you do. I still love programming and I even sometimes just do it for fun. But that's a totally different thing. I personally believe it's important to get out and do stuff in the real world, otherwise all you're doing is sitting in front of a computer screen which is not good for your physical or mental health.
 

Nytegard

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I think a lot of the problem has to do with that many programming jobs I've seen have a lot of young people fresh out of college. This is more to deal with the startups. They enjoy programming and don't realize that their work/life balance is completely out of whack, but haven't ever worked for any other companies to know better. The other end is the jobs which know you need the job. Many programming jobs are being shipped to Asia where they pay peanuts. And there's always some kid out of college who will gladly learn to do your job for 1/3rd the salary. It's work overtime and the weekends because the last one not to do so is often the first one out the door after the company fires them. For the most part, I've never had a job which was even remotely challenging. Most software has already been written by those there longer than you, and you're there to fix problems. It's mainly grunt work. But you do it because you're in fear of losing your job every day of the year.
 

acidic

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Depending on the type of software company (especially startup), there can be tremendous pressure to work free extra hours into the night and weekends. It can be very stressful if you let it.
 

dderidex

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I work as a programmer and I don't think there is such as thing as "Imposter Syndrome" but there is a problem some people have with work/life balance.

I'd say there very much IS - but it depends a lot on corporate culture. I've run into this a LOT more at Fortune 500 companies - it's pretty much the rule in the top 100 - and almost never in 'startups'.

It's a management style, basically. Managers will drop subtle hints constantly that one or more of your colleagues is really outshining you (which can sometimes be painfully obvious when they are suggesting someone is about to get a bonus for something you know they PLAINLY can't do and you can - but that can be almost as destructive, if they do end up getting rewarded for work you know someone else did).

That whole 'playing the employees against each other' thing is absolutely indoctrinated in all middle managers in the nation. Heck, it's most of the reason you cannot openly discuss your compensation package with coworkers! (In every organization I've worked at in the past decade, that's an instant-termination offense)

And the net goal of all that, of course, is to try to keep everyone chasing a carrot that is strapped to their own head - if you are managing a department, and need to hit a 10% increase for the next quarter or YOUR job is over, then it's just a no-brainer to push someone to an extreme that burns them out in a year if it gets you 10% more from them...vs letting them over-achieve at their own preference, and maybe settle for only 5% more, although they'd never burn out. (After all, where your workers are or aren't in 2 years is no concern of yours - you have numbers to hit next quarter, and once you are promoted out of the department, who cares what happens to what is left of it? Welcome to corporate America!)
 

BallerX

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I'm not sure why this is exclusive to being a computer programmer. It comes with every job I have ever taken. I learned a long time ago, that no matter how hard I work and how much I sacrifice, the only people that care, are people that care about me.

Now ask yourself how many of your bosses or coworkers genuinely care about you. Some of the best jobs I have ever worked in my life might have been long hours and low pay. However, the people I worked for were careful and respectful.
 

GaryS

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Information Technology and Computers/Communications in general has grown massively complex over the last few years. And, it's a damn-fine/fun career.

And "yes" (from above post), I do live for the insanity.

Problem is that college/training can't keep up - and "kids" are getting released into the wild with the ability to crawl. It's like modern physics - you can only hope to achieve the "smell" of what "is" as apposed to seeing "the real".
 

GaryS

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Oh... as far as dealing with management goes?
- grow some f'ing balls and learn to say, "no".
 

drescherjm

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Depending on the type of software company (especially startup), there can be tremendous pressure to work free extra hours into the night and weekends. It can be very stressful if you let it.

This is my problem. I mean its rare when I do not work 7 days a week.
 

cyclone3d

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Some places that will get you on the unemployment line.

If it gets to a point where the management are jerks, then it is better to find another job and then quit your current one ASAP.

Letting those scum work you to the point of health and/or mental issues is just plain stupid.
 

Staples

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The stress level is high because you are never done with the project. Once you finish, it is on to the next project. And you are always expected to write code as fast as possible.
 

cyclone3d

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The stress level is high because you are never done with the project. Once you finish, it is on to the next project. And you are always expected to write code as fast as possible.

Taking time to write good code is way better than barfing out trash code.
 

OldDeadOne

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A friend of mine programs knitting machines on some pretty old hardware. I remember their keyboards - hooked to weird looking huge computer cubes - looking even weirder than this one.

I remember them using punch cards back in the day. That was a lot of work.

Punch cards were the shit back in the day(70's)for me......
 

Justintoxicated

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I love my job... and its exactly the opposite; I feel like all the other programmers I work with are idiots and that they would be useless without me. What does that mean? lol!

Impostor syndrome??? I'm definitely not the best programmer I know, but I think if you feel like all the other programmers are better than you that's because they are. On the occasion that I find a programmer that is better than me, I do everything I possibly can to learn as much as possible from them. Meaning volunteering my time to work with them, having some humility and admitting you want to learn what they know, and basically just apply some critical thinking to their area of expertise. I've found that most of those people are more than willing to teach, as like me they probably find it incredibly frustrating when they have to solve everybody else's problems.

You don't further your career as a programmer by working more hours, you do it by challenging yourself and learning from the "better" programmers that you work with. Share in the insanity at least! :)

For me it is the opposite, most do not really want to show you what they know if you need to learn something. Some will spend the time but most of the experts do not want to spend an extra 5 minutes in the office to show anyone anything. I found most of the experts are getting paid over 200k a year too, so I can somewhat understand they find teaching a waste of their time.
 

Lord_Anselhelm

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Stress leads to increased chances of developing a mental illness. What's so hard to understand about that?

It's the reason why teachers (especially in the UK) have such a high rate of mental illness.
 

pothb

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Considering, half of them don't seem to give a damn about what they teach, I'm surprised. (US teachers, no clue on UK teachers.)
 

Youn

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Taking time to write good code is way better than barfing out trash code.
+1, but try explaining that to a manager who just wants to "GET IT DONE NOW, I DON'T CARE IF IT BREAKS IN THE FUTURE!"

I just tell these folks "Hire someone who doesn't care then, since you clearly do not." They seem to respect that attitude. Maybe I'm lucky I don't get fired :D
 

VMaxx

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Its basically competition. The fear is that you're not keeping up because "real" coders never really stop working. After a while you realize the "real" coders don't have a life outside of work, and that's not what you want. So you find the balance that works for you, and accept that you won't have a codebase for everything and projects built on every whim. Its more along the lines of a phase than a syndrome.
 

cyclone3d

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+1, but try explaining that to a manager who just wants to "GET IT DONE NOW, I DON'T CARE IF IT BREAKS IN THE FUTURE!"

I just tell these folks "Hire someone who doesn't care then, since you clearly do not." They seem to respect that attitude. Maybe I'm lucky I don't get fired :D

Nice.

For the little bit of programming I do do for work, I am glad that they would rather it take longer to get it right the first time then to rush something just to meet a deadline.

If I did do software development full time, I would still make sure to do it correctly. If they want somebody to write crappy code that has to be redone later, they can find somebody else to do it.
 

Justintoxicated

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Its basically competition. The fear is that you're not keeping up because "real" coders never really stop working. After a while you realize the "real" coders don't have a life outside of work, and that's not what you want. So you find the balance that works for you, and accept that you won't have a codebase for everything and projects built on every whim. Its more along the lines of a phase than a syndrome.

That pretty much sums things up for me. It's not that I am lazy, it's that I just don't care". I would rather have a life and other hobbies outside of work. Life is pretty short, but I do see many people that just code all the time, and they are good at what they do.
 

Staples

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Its basically competition. The fear is that you're not keeping up because "real" coders never really stop working. After a while you realize the "real" coders don't have a life outside of work, and that's not what you want. So you find the balance that works for you, and accept that you won't have a codebase for everything and projects built on every whim. Its more along the lines of a phase than a syndrome.

I think the fact that most coders are kids (ok, young people) lends some anecdotal evidence to this article. After these kids grow up and have a life of their own, they are not willing to put the time required to their "job" than they once did.
 

MrAgmoore

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Three people died in my community college, computer programming program. Two were stress related heart attacks and one was mysterious circumstances. I think that it's sad that Psychology isn't a mandatory subject. I think that it is sad that overtime, stress and burnout are downplayed.

It reminds me that I still have to get around to reading, "Learning from Burnout: Developing sustainable leaders and avoiding career derailment":

http://www.amazon.ca/Learning-Burnout-Developing-sustainable-derailment/dp/0750683872
 
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