I would consider myself a 9 to 5 programmer. What I mean by this, is that I have a programming job, but after I leave work, I leave my work there and do not take it home. I very much enjoy my career choice, and I enjoy the work that I do at my current job. I also enjoy learning new things in my field, such as new technologies and advancements in the programming industry. It's just that outside of my job I have other hobbies that I feel are more important and I'd like to devote more of my time and energies to. I also feel that devoting >40 hours a week to a single subject is a little exhausting, so are there really that many programmers that want to come home from their programming job and do more programming?

Maybe it's just my current employer, but I feel like they leave little time for career development. The only way for me to keep up on the newest technologies and programming techniques is to do so on my own time, because my employer does not allocate time during work hours to do these sorts of things (deadlines == $$$). Does anyone else feel the same way about their employer?

From your experience, do managers and people who hire programmers see 9 to 5 programmers as a less valuable resource? I know that I could improve my resume by contributing to and open source project etc, but I just feel like I don't have the time to spare.

Could the opposite be said, such that devoting your spare time to other subjects such as the arts show a well-rounded-ness that could be a desirable trait to the company?

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    Looks like this question has been pretty well covered here. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 2:12
  • 1
    Maybe it has been covered, but the answers here are really high quality and the question deserves the chance for more responses. There is no "right answer" to this, so simply referring people to a different set of answers makes no sense.
    – Dan Diplo
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 11:23
  • I consider myself a 8:59 to 5:01 worker and I freely admit that I am looking down upon 9:00 to 5:00 programmers because it is obviously obvious that working less than 8:02 a day is obviously not only a sign of laziness but also shows a giant lack of attention to detail.
    – ThomasX
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 10:23
  • Locked for historical reasons, please see "Lock the top-voted questions that are closed" for further details.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 20:36

15 Answers 15


Let us bring some balance to this argument.

For the record, I am a 9-5 programmer in the strictest sense of the word. I have coded for many many years and I will probably be coding for many more. I do have a strong passion for development and love seeing all those classes giving each other hugs and kisses. I'm all for fluffy bunny designs and FOR loops...

BUT... and it's a big but...

I refuse to sacrifice my other responsibilities as a husband and father to become better at one thing... software development. You see, when you lie on your death bed, you will look deep into your wife's eyes, and think of all those lovely moments you spend in Visio drawing UML diagrams and writing clean, simple and maintainable code... I think not.

It's not about balance. If I have to choose, I WILL be poor and be with my family. It's not about the money or job satisfaction or the stuff I want.

Agreed, my answer is probably only relevant to some of the married developers out there but for what it's worth, I'll try to represent those of us who are compelled to look after our families as real men do. Taking responsibility.

Don't give me the excuse "My wife married me as I am, she knows my passion for programming and willingly sacrifices every last second of my free time for the computer because she loves me". Dude... I won't even go there.

SO, to cut a already long story short.

I code from 9 to 5, I occasionally read articles on software development at home. I value time with my family and will not be an absent father or husband. The world has enough of those.

You only have 80 odd years to live on this planet, what do you want your scoreboard to look like once you're done. Like this:

Software developer - 8/10
Husband - 2/10
Father - 3/10

Go for it. Not me.

In fact, I go as far as to not work for companies that expect regular overtime. I am willing to do overtime on occasion although still see it as a lack of managing expectations. Period. A delivery date can in most cases be flexible if issues are detected/reported ahead of time.

Companies tend to start with the "crunch time" excuse which conveniently turns into a regular occurrence. It makes business sense, unpaid effort. If you give me time in lieu (yay! You know where I'll be spending mine!) I would do crunch time, any time.

If not, go get yourself one of those developers who think software development is all there is to life. There are many of them.

Regrettably this appears like some sort of rant, which it isn't.

Summary: Review your current working hours. Look at your other responsibilities in life and give them appropriate attention. Do not waste your life on becoming great at only one thing in life, it's too huge a sacrifice with too small a pay-off.

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    I started tearing up right around you will look deep into your wife's eyes, and think of all those lovely moments you spent in Visio drawing UML diagrams ;) Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 4:31
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    Best way to put it. And not just for married people. You have a life, make the best of it. If you're effectively working 24/7 (minus a few short hours of sleep), don't expect to get any more thanks from your boss than if you're working 9-5 with the occasional bit of overtime because you're not going to get it! Instead they'll just pile more and more on you until you collapse under the weight, at which point you're the one who gets blamed for the missed deadline while you're in hospital recovering from a stroke or heart attack.
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 5:39

Looking through your question I think I see three questions:

  • Are there many programmers that actually come home and do more programming?
  • Do companies who hire programmers see 9-5 programmers as a less valuable resource?
  • Is well-roundedness a desirable trait? (Yes, absolutely, but just having hobbies doesn't necessarily make a person well-rounded)

However, I think all of these questions are motivated by a single slight error in trying to diagnose your symptoms:

Acting like a 9-5 programmer is a surface symptom, not a root cause.

What is a 9-5 programmer?

In my haste previously I neglected to describe what I am referring to by "9-5 programmer" in this answer. It seems that I've offended some by doing so. So, I'll add this attempt at a definition: Someone who spends zero time on extra-curricular activities that enhance their day job. In other words, someone who spends all their time producing and none investing in learning and growth.

By definition almost no one who spends any time here on Programmers would fit into that group. There are many things that one can do other than actual coding that enhance a programming career outside your 9-5:

  1. StackOverflow or Programmers
  2. Reading (Programming or Software engineering books)
  3. Studying new technologies
  4. Etc.

Why might I be acting like a 9-5 programmer?

The question you need to be really asking yourself is why you feel like a 9-5 programmer. I can think of a few possible reasons (I still have probably missed some).

1) You are actually a 9-5 programmer — You don't necessarily enjoy programming but can perform it competently enough to be paid. You do your work and get out. Technology/programming isn't interesting enough to you to study outside work hours.

  • Prognosis: This is like the factory worker of programmers. You'll probably make it through life with a decent salary, a nice retirement, and, heaven forbid things get much worse in the economy, you'll retire at 65-ish. However, if you feel like you have more potential for yourself or for others, then you ought to find your passion. Nobody gets to the "top of their game" (any game) without passion.

2) Your 9-5 work satisfies the coding need and so you explore other hobbies — You enjoy coding and you are good enough at it. You don't think about programming at home, but you still feel invigorated to learn and grow in other ways outside of work hours.

  • Prognosis: This is like the factory manager of programmers. It's still a 9-5 but your job gives you enough opportunities to keep your skills sharp, and you have enough passion to utilize those opportunities. Your work will be recognized accordingly. In this situation it's still possible to end up behind where you wanted to be in your job, or with others passing you up unexpectedly. To prevent that, I suggest you find other ways to enhance your programming skills in part of your extra time. Or, it's possible that pure programming is not the best fit for you. You might be better in a different job where the things you want to do outside your 9-5 better complement your day-job.

    Note that this is a sliding scale. The point is simply that your success in your 9-5 is enhanced by the level of time you spend developing and sharpening related skills in your own free time.

3) Your job has you burnt out from programming — Not all programming is created equal. This job kills the passion for your craft. It's like being a photographer and being assigned to take photos of a crime scene. There's no art in it. Consequently, the last thing you want to do more of is programming.

  • Prognosis: If this is you, you need a new job. If you still love programming, top of your list when looking for a new job is that the subject matter (or programming specialty) be a better fit.

4) Your full-time job has you burnt out in general — You actually do enjoy programming, and if you received a healthy inheritance and quit your job today, you'd probably end up writing your own software. The only problem is that by the time you've done your job for the day you are mentally burned out. When you get home, you don't want to do much besides [insert your favorite form of vegetation here].

  • Prognosis: It may or may not be your job/company's fault. Sometimes a full-time job is just that demanding. However, the danger of this stage, similar to the above, is that you will stagnate. While anyone can understand why you leave work at 5, and don't think about the job till you are back in the morning, over time you will notice that you've stayed in the same place while others with more passion came in and whipped up a storm and got some crazy stuff done. It may not have even been because they are a better programmer, but just because they had passion — about something.

    The solution isn't easy and is probably different for everyone. When I've felt like I was getting to this stage before, the best thing that I've found to solve the full-time-job blues is to simply find and take in inspiration wherever it is — I.E. find people doing cool stuff. For example, I enjoy reading articles by or interviews with the founders of software startups. Maybe that inspiration is not even in programming — photography, painting, music, whatever. If it takes you far enough away from programming, maybe you found your real passion.

    And, it might even be your employer's fault. Employee personal development can greatly benefit a company. You might suggest your employer make it a focus, with some dedicated time to give the programmers an opportunity to slow down, figure out why deadlines are always such a stress, and have a little time to learn new things. You might even find out that production is faster in a less stressful environment.

The common thread through all of this is that you need to figure out a couple of things about yourself:

  1. Is passion important to you? Is satisfaction about reaching some unknown potential or simply living a comfortable, stable life?
  2. Is programming a passion for you? If not, but you don't need passion, does it at least not bring unhappiness?

To answer your original question, there are plenty of opportunities for workers who are not necessarily passionate, but competent. But you won't find any of them working at the top jobs. You won't find them being asked to co-found companies. And those jobs are not at the top of the payscale. None of that may be important to you, and it's not important to all employers — so you can still be respected as long as the job is a good fit for you.

If any of that is important, I suggest you find a way to bring the passion back into your career.


In response to comments

I am not claiming that one would ideally spend more than 40 hours a week coding. However, jobs are about producing and most require you to spend nearly all of that time coding. In most programming jobs, that will only keep certain skills sharp. If you want to stay passionate (i.e. not burnt out) and not stagnate, you will need to find the extra time somewhere to enhance your skills to excel in a programming job.

Some people are certainly lucky enough to have a job that values personal development enough for them to keep a variety of skills sharp during their 9-5. It doesn't sound like the original poster was in this camp. If you are, stay there! Use your extra time to be productive, but don't think that it has to be "coding". If you come home feeling "exhausted" then I doubt you are in this camp. A job like this would leave you feeling invigorated.

The Point

You spend 40 hours a week doing something. That's not insignificant. I believe that you should make the most of it. To make the most out of it, some of your free time should be spent enhancing the skills you use during the day.

Most jobs require enough "production" (attention devoted to output that does not contribute greatly to personal learning and growth) out of the 40 hours (or more) that there is little time for personal development. I believe that the amount of attention a person spends in their own learning and growth is directly correlated with their personal success. This is the point I was trying to address here.

If you don't want to enhance your programming skills directly or indirectly outside of work hours, then it's quite possible that you'd be better off with a job where you can use more of the skills that you do enjoy improving and sharpening in your time off.


The bipolar discussion here is simply ridiculous. It seems that there are only two options.

  1. You're a 9-5 programmer
  2. You're a dedicated life-long developer with no life.

Frankly, this is BS. There is an in-between. And it is a perfectly reasonable one. It is certainly possible to raise a family and be a good parent and spouse while still spending some time outside of normal working hours honing your craft.

Unless you are an unskilled laborer you should plan on spending time outside of working hours with some sort of continuing education. Doctors do it, teachers do it, programmers do it. You cannot expect to get through an entire career as a programmer without taking the initiative to learn new things, on your own. Technology changes. You need to change with it. And if you think that it is your employer's responsibility to make sure you get the education you need to continue to be productive, then you are cracked. If that were true then employers would need to pay for our college degrees.

Some employers are better than others, of course. Some offer tuition assistance and other incentives to get you to learn more. But even then, most of that continuing education happens outside of working hours.

Skilled professional need to maintain their skills if they want to maintain their work. It is their responsibility to do that. It's much cheaper for an employer to hire a new worker with the appropriate skills than to pay an existing worker to learn the skills.

Yes, I look down on 9-5 programmers, or what I call "Daytime Developers" who have no interest in getting better at what they do on their own time. I am not suggesting that you need to neglect family or eat-breathe-drink programming. But spending a few hours a week reading, taking a night class, or practicing a new skill is not an unreasonable expectation. I do it and I still have a great relationship with my wife and two children. We even have a third child on the way.

There is no reason that you can't be both a dedicated, skilled programming professional and a family-oriented person.

  • the problem with that "continuous education" is the cost. And don't forget that in many other industries the company is expected to fund it to a far higher degree than it is in ours. A machinist can expect his employer to pay for training on a new machine, yet a programmer is expected to pay for his own training to use a new language or tool. A pilot gets his training paid for by his airline or air force, in fact the air force hires people and pays them during initial training, unsure of whether they'll ever get to fly for them.
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 5:43
  • You're not actually going to compare military service to having a job, are you?
    – Jason Dean
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 8:44

I wouldn't necessarily call you a 9-5 programmer based on your description.

The 9-5 programmer that I look down on has absolutely NO passion or interest in honing their craft but just plods away day-in day-out never showing any interest whatsoever in improving what they do.

Since fatherhood took over I have a lot less time to spend on major home coding projects so I know where you're coming from but I still spend some time here & there learning about new techniques & tools that I could bring to work.

  • I'm the same - it is possible to balance the two without becoming a neglectful father. Infact I find it impossible to spend hours coding, like every pass time too much of the same thing just gets boring after a while
    – Chris S
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 14:25

I'm going to answer the question:

Yes, programmers who program only 9-5, or whatever hours are necessary to complete their job, are looked down on by a substantial number of programmers.

As to why this should be, I have no idea. No other profession that I know of has this strange idea. We don't expect policemen to go hunting criminals on their own time, or firefighters to put out extra fires. Nor is it a good thing. Plenty of excellent programmers do their job extremely well, and then go home to their families.

However in my experience managers actually understand this better than programmers. Almost no hiring managers will look on lack of outside projects as a negative. They will look on outside projects as a positive only in the sense that skills learned through those projects improves someone's hireability. The mere willingness to do outside projects isn't a positive.

Note that I'm not talking about improving your skills or learning outside of work. Almost every profession - doctors, teachers, lawyers - expects its practitioners to put in some extra time learning outside of strict work hours. That's part of being a professional rather than an assembly line worker. But some programmers seem to have this bizarre idea that if you don't have side-projects then you are not a real programmer.

  • People don't look down upon 9 to 5 programmers if they are good at their job. That statement should also say enough as to why they look down upon 9 to 5 programmers. People who just posess the minimum skills required for their job tend not to be looked up to.
    – Dunk
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 20:31
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    We do expect policemen to go hunting criminals on their own time. For the London Metropolitan Police you're expected to spend two years as a 'Special' - an unpaid volunteer - before you'll be considered for a full time position.
    – robertc
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 0:52
  • That's not the same as expecting them to do extra time after they are full time. That's more like doing some programming while you are in college. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 1:08
  • @robertc here they'd loose their job if they did that, because they'd be committing crimes ("unlawful arrest", things like that). And of course demanding unpaid labour is illegal here as well, as in many places.
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 5:46
  • @DJClayworth "But some programmers seem to have this bizarre idea that if you don't have side-projects then you are not a real programmer" Yes! That's what I was getting at with the "looked down on" part. I agree that it is bizarre. I find myself in the balance, but with no side projects, and I feel that a lot of the answers here have validated that I am just as much a "real programmer"
    – B Johnson
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 4:36

I'm a little confused by your question - you say that you enjoy learning about new technologies and advancements, which leads me to think that you are at least a little more passionate about being a programmer than someone who goes in, does what they're required to do, and completely turns off when they're done.

In any field, I think it is great to hire people that truly love what they are doing. In my experience, they tend to be enthusiastic, resourceful, and overall happy people. I mean, if you love programming and that is what you get to do every day of your life, you're going to be much happier and get much more accomplished.

At the same time, I think it is great to be into other hobbies as well, and even to gain a proficiency at them. That could be sports, the arts, home improvement, any of those - to me, having other hobbies makes me a better problem solver and keeps me on my toes.

As far as your company situation, if you want to learn more, there is absolutely nothing stopping you. If you're waiting for your job to expand your experience, I think you need to find another job where you get that sort of flexibility. Good luck - many are simply driven by the bottom line.

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    You can love programming but still be reluctant to go beyond 9 to 5. I prefer leaving early and read online resources, program or anything computer-related comfortably at home. You can make me stay longer from time to time, when close to releasing a new version for example, but I always feel these extra hours should be paid (and 90% of the time they are not).
    – Jalayn
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 5:38
  • @Jalayn I agree completely, work should be done at work. I interpret "9 to 5" programmers as those that just go to work, program, and never do anything outside of that timeframe.
    – Nic
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 5:41

This might be a difficult question but, I'll give it a run.

From where I stand, it seems to depend on the company's business model. Some companies operate with the view allowing employees time to grow in the way that they would choose will ultimately benefit the company since an employee with greater understanding has more to offer. Not to mention that doing such things potentially leads to a happier employee-base.

I know of a lot of programmers who code by day and code by night. For most of them it is because they are bent on programming, not because it looks good (though it usually pays off in their work life).

For these types of things, you really have to consider your own situation. Where do you need/want to be in n units of time? Does getting there require more coding or a greater understanding of some other augment?

Again, to answer your question: it depends on the company. There are those who also look down on people who spend too much time programming. We have a mix of both sorts of management at my company.


I really understand your situation, I used to work nearly 40 hours a week with .NET. It was pretty cool, but once I was at home, I had had my time in front of a computer.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to get "recognized" as a programmer if you do stuff for a boss under an invisible name, and especially under .NET or other of Microsoft's proprietary technologies. It's like using someone else's code to do something that nobody knows you did.

If you are creative, like to deal with new tendencies, and have some marketing and communication skill I suggest you to start personnal projects. It's incredible how it gets you up to date in what you do.

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    The solution would be not to produce something under an invisible name.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 11:31

There's two extremes that personally I look down upon:

  • The programmer who works 6-7 days a week for 10-14 hours a day on work stuff. Management loves these types, because they get lots of free work from them (though hours at work is not always a good measure of productivity). In fact management will do their best to get the 40 hour a week programmers to feel they've gotten behind and try getting this type of free work out of them. I'd consider doing this only if the pay is right. (E.g., above $200,000 a year for me; my free time is valuable.)

  • The strict 9 to 5 programmer, who on nights and weekends doesn't care about programming or anything technology-related at all when they are outside of work. This is bad as their skill set may decay, they don't learn about new technologies, they don't seem to be truly interested in it, its just a job for a paycheck.

I prefer having balance. I try not to regularly spend (much) more than 40-50 hours on work related stuff, unless its an exceptional circumstance (where I feel its largely my fault as opposed to unrealistic expectations). However, I still keep up on my programming skill set and try to learn tech things in my off-time and sometimes spend time with pet projects, because I find programming is interesting and pet projects are fun. Sure if you have other important commitments (e.g., children) you obviously have to reduce this sort of stuff down; but you should still at least have desires to do this sort of stuff if given the time. A week is 168 hours, take out 56 hours for sleeping, 40 hours for working, 30 hours for commuting+eating+weekly chores, and you are left with about roughly 6 hours a day for other stuff. Maybe you choose to watch a lot of TV/movies/sports or have other hobbies or spend most of the time with the wife and kids. That's great and being well rounded is good, but maybe you can find 30 minutes to 2 hours on most days (when you aren't swamped) to just keep up a little? Buy a random tech book? Read stackoverflow and related? Play around with html5 canvas; learn what the fuss is with NoSQL, node.js? See how difficult it would be to make an android/ipad app? Learn a fun (and maybe impractical) language like haskell?


The only way for me to keep up on the newest technologies and programming techniques is to do so on my own time, because my employer does not allocate time during work hours to do these sorts of things (deadlines == $$$).

You employer pays you to produce, not to learn. Very few companies other than Google or perhaps Amazon (or other companies of that magnitude) can justify paying someone to possibly produce nothing.

Could the opposite be said, such that devoting your spare time to other subjects such as the arts show a well-rounded-ness that could be a desirable trait to the company?

Sure, they're called technical artists and yes, they can be very valuable as someone who possesses left and right brained strengths are fairly tough to come by.

Having said that, during my 10+ year career thus far, I have yet to meet a 9-5er (meaning that the only time that person does work-related stuff is at work).


Apparently I wasn't clear in my first point, so I'll attempt to clarify. Learning is an integral part of daily life for an engineer. If you're not learning, you're not getting better. If you're not getting better, you get stuck in a rut. If you're stuck in a rut, more times than not, you have both an unhappy employer and employee.

The intention of my point was simply that (in my own experience), learning in a context that is relevant to your employment is usually easy to come by. Time allocation for (potentially) irrelevant technologies is harder to come by and therefore, more times than not, needs to be done on your own time (thus breaking the 9-5).

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    "You employer pays you to produce, not to learn" - But isn't learning supposed to increase productivity and reduce issues ?
    – Jas
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 7:43
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    Actually many companies pay you to learn, but only if it will make you more productive. That learning may be on the job, informal training, or formal classes. Also many other career fields do spend time learning outside of 9-5. They take classes, read technical journals, and work over time. Admittedly programmers tend to take it to an extreme, but we are not the only ones.
    – Jim C
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 14:51
  • @Jim C: Sure, many companies pay for classes and such, but the courses are generally taken on your own time. Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 17:49
  • @Jas: Absolutely. However, in the context of the OP's question (learning new technology that may potentially not be applicable to your core employment competency) isn't learning that is generally justifiable during work time. Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 17:50
  • My company actually requires us to keep up with the newest technology. How are you supposed to create high quality work without exploring various new technologies? I'm not saying companies need to pay for you to work on biology or photography, but learning is a part of what developers do when solving problems. If you can spend years coding without spending any time researching or learning, then you are probably doing it wrong.
    – user3792
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 20:32

Using the amount of time someone spent at work as a measurement for production just seems like another lines of code that can easily be gamed. Many people just start doing personal things at work. They wait for better traffic, so they come to work sooner and leave later. Or they work in a downtown area and waste time until the pubs fill up.

I didn't get into the IT industry because I wanted to punch a time clock. The work I do is much easier on my body than the work my father did. Constantly being in a tit-for-tat with your employer is a bad sign. Even at 40 hrs a week, it's still too much time to waste in life doing something you don't enjoy.

There is time in life for family, friends and other interests. Some you can share with others, some you can't. There are others in my life that want to do things outside of their work day that don't involve me, so I can work or play. Sometimes my current job can offer both.

My career positively addresses many but not all needs in my life and I expect those around me to respect this. Oh, and I watch a lot of football.


I am an 8 - 6 programmer, but more importantly, I am an 8 - 6 PC USER. Before I graduated from my University I used my PC some 8-9 hours a day, between programming, playing games, surfing the web and chatting. The day I started working, from 8 am to 6 pm, I hardly ever get home and sit on my computer, to code, chat, surf or play (or whatever). Honestly, I don't even want to look at a computer, I get my email and chat from my phone.

Now, I love my job and I couldn't picture me doing anything else. But one thing is work and the other is hobbies. If your hobby is to code also, then you might get home and keep working, otherwise you'll want to get home and do something else.

If other programmers look down on that fact, then its really their problem. So far I have never met a programmer who looked down on me for it. But to be honest, of all the programmers I know, only a handful actually code in their free time.

  • It really isn't a question of looking down on other programmers based upon them only working 9 to 5. It is a question of those 9 to 5 developers not posessing good skills to do their job that is looked down upon. There are some areas of development that aren't all that technically challenging or innovation has little place. I suspect that many of the straight 9 to 5 ers work on those types of projects so they don't understand the need for continual learning. And if that is your position then you are correct. If you spent time at home then your job would be even less challenging....
    – Dunk
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 20:53
  • @Dunk Then in that case, the question is phrased wrong. It should incapable programmers, not 9-5ers... And the question could apply to any job. I think of myself as VERY capable, and in my job we constantly innovate (we have to), BUT we do it during the 9 hours of work that we have. If 9 hours a day is not enough for you, then I would question YOUR ability to solve problems, not mine.
    – AJC
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 22:24

I'm sorry, but no job deserves more than 40 hours of your time per week, period. There are certain professions who (arguably) matter a lot more to society than others, e.g. doctors, policeman, EMT's, etc. Even they shouldn't have to (note: have to) dedicate more than 40 hours a week doing this, it should be up to the employer to hire more workers if they don't have enough to get things done without people working OT.

40 hours a week is almost too much already. Think about it, the average human lives to be what, 80 years old or so? They start going to school at age 5/6, and from that point on, basically are busy for 8 hours every weekday (minus 3 months) until they are ready for college. I'll crunch some average numbers here:

  • You live 700,800 hours on average.
  • 1st grade to 12 grade takes up an average of 19,200 hours (without summers)
  • Usually you work through the summers in high school, so tack those back on: 1,920 hours
  • College takes up about 35 hours a week for 4 years (with intern/work study time/studying): 7,280 hours - summers (1,680) = 5,600
  • Then say you get a job and work from that point (22 yrs old) to when your 65 (?): 89,440 hours - (3 weeks off per year) 5,160 = 84,280 hours

Add them all up and get the % of your life: 111,000/700,800 = about 16%

16% of your life, dedicated to WORK. You live once, and this incredible lifetime we each get to experience, its about 1/6th shorter because of your "job". And this is ONLY if you work 40 hours a week. You should never be giving more than that away. Cherish your life.

  • One alternative: sleep less. I used to sleep about 6-7 hours a night. Then I found out that I had sleep apnea. With that under control, I found that I only need about 4-5 hours of sleep every night to be well rested. That's an extra 87,600 hours of time I get compared to someone who sleep an average of 8 hours a night! :-)
    – afrazier
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 21:03
  • It's a bit shallow to think that school is just part of work. As a kid there are so many things that you need to learn (read, write, basic maths) to be able to make most of life. That has nothing to do with whatever your chosen work career is later in life. Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 12:28

If you want to excel at something, you need to sacrifice other things. That's the only way. Want to make shitload of money as a software developer / entrepreneur? Then say good bye to your family life at least for a few years. Everyone has to make this choice themselves. It's a deal, you can take it or leave it.


There has always been the balance of work and life. 9-5'rs are those that are there for the paycheck. I've worked some of those jobs where the management has sucked all the fun out of why I was there. I usually ended up leaving to find those jobs that others inspire you to learn more or just the technology you use makes the programming fun and makes you want to do some OT or sacrifice free time. But as always too much of one thing leads to stagnation. I have at least 4 hobbies outside of work plus a family and I have found that a few times those hobbies have helped my career in very odd ways. So yes program 9-5, do some OT when needed, but for gods sakes have fun in life.

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