This is an awesome question. I hope someone has good strategies for you. Life should be spent doing the things you find worthwhile, and the fact is, not all of those things are monetizable.
Given how esteem- and success driven HN as a platform is... you might not get too many ideas since I suppose people want to maintain their "hireable" status.
Success and "loving your job" are more or less empty phrases unless you are actually a professional moving your field forward or learning a highly complex subject matter - or you own a stake in a company.
Beyond that you are toiling, and if you like your job, it's glorious toiling like gardening (pleasing, but not important, but you love it, so it's great) or terrible toiling for living that eats your soul.
I'm basically in a job that is quite important for my org, I get compliments for good job, but I hate most aspects of my daily work since the tech stack is complex and fugly. I probably _appear_ motivated but I'm just a neurotic who hates failing. If I didn't need to feed and house my family I would have moved to a lower paying position long ago that is intrinsically more motivating.
Success and "loving your job" have nothing in common in my experience.
> I'm basically in a job that is quite important for my org, I get compliments for good job, but I hate most aspects of my daily work
There's a class of "crystallized intelligence" jobs which are about what happened before rather than what you do today. There's an intersection between that sort of knowledge and a certain fluid intelligence to slot it in where things fit.
I'm in one of those jobs right now, where the last six years of what I've read/absorbed is more valuable (as a sort of fast cross-reference in my brain) than what I actually do right now. I'm the guy with the picture that's on puzzle box, rather than having to place each puzzle piece.
I've tried really hard to make myself obsolete and do something else, but it has backfired spectacularly.
I've written down all of this in documents, trained other people to do the same thing over the years, even built tools to replace the easy parts (right now there's an intern doing the next pass of that automation) the effect of which has been to lighten my workload even more & I'm not missed if need to take a couple of weeks on a roadtrip or something.
To do this, I've had to do something which is not volume driven (i.e my output is not a factor of time), so moved away from building web applications to profiling/optimizing all kinds of networked applications, where the ability to cut through the stack is useful, but for any given layer there's someone who does it "professionally".
This is of course not a long-term parking spot for me, but I'm useful and in essence acting as "an elder" store of information about the past & a slightly clearer view of the future.
This reminds me of advice I got from the VP of Eng at my first real full time tech job. This was back around late 1999 / early 2000. Peak of the dot com era.
He told me what most people think of as job security is totally wrong. If you're the only person who knows something, you become a liability. But if you're constantly teaching and sharing that knowledge you become incredibly valuable to the organization. That's when you have job security.
Since internalizing that advice, I always try to work myself out of job by ensuring I share anything I know. And I always pass this advice along to others. As you get more seniority in the organization, the way to have more impact and scale is to work through others by sharing your knowledge and helping them get better.
At one of my old gigs, I asked my then-colleague a bunch of questions about the codebase for a task I was assigned. He was always like "you are a senior resource, you should not ask such questions; if you want to find answers, look into the code itself." This is how he keeps his status and job at that company, and he is still there now. When I enquired around about how he got that tribal knowledge of that codebase, I got a fascinating answer: he asked his ex-colleagues at the same company, the same kind of questions I asked.
Unless one joins as an intern at some company, there are gatekeepers in most of the companies, who don't want to train you at all. Instead, they criticize any attempt to find answers as "hand-holding, fake, inexperienced, etc."
>you are a senior resource, you should not ask such questions; if you want to find answers, look into the code itself.
You should never tell anyone they 'should not ask such questions', but I will absolutely tell you 'hey, go read this code / documentation and it will help you understand'. Mainly, I just want you to show me that you've at least attempted to solve or research the problem yourself. If you've done that I'm happy to help. Unfortunately a lot of Jrs straight out of school seem to expect to be spoon fed answers, and it makes me wonder if college has changed since I graduated.
Most work knowledge now is google deep, but even back to the 80’s I encountered a lot of college grads who did not want to read the code.
A lot of it is intimidation, they’d never seen a printout stack of 50 or 100K eslocs. Kids today never start with monolithics like that but they do get swamped by the fifty layers/packages that change every year.
Learning “on the job” is an anachronism from the days when companies invested in their employees and employees stayed in the same organization for their entire career. We’re moving towards the gig model, even calling programmers “rock stars” to sell it.
This is profoundly true. It's also one of the reasons I want to get out of IT after 20 years. I'm past the point where I'm tired of the meetings, false niceties, and desire from management to submit to the hive mind. Nothing worse than stand-ups, Teams or Google Meet meetings. No one wants to be in them. It takes time away from my job where I could actually be productive. This is why I really like the videos from Patrick Shyu on YouTube (Tech Lead). He gives the skinny on working for companies like FAANG and in general. I don't always agree with everything he says, but I've seen much of what he says.
There are plenty of people who have "closed the drawbridge behind them once inside." They don't want to help, or think that you should figure it out yourself or should already know the answer etc.... They forget that they were newbs once too.
It goes both ways,I suppose. I'm more than willing to teach anyone who is willing to listed what I know, but some mutual respect is needed. I remember a meeting, where I got asked to get someone up to speed with some core concepts. I thought,OK, that's fantastic.I prepped the plan, go to him and tell it'd take him about 20h of his own time to go through the stuff.. 'Oh no, I thought we'd be done in 2 hours'.. Sure, I can teach you in 2 hours what took me 5 years to learn..
It depends. Sometimes the answer is obscure because of our setup - like you'd need to know to look in the other repo. I'll always tell you that, and point you to the doc and the problem-list to update in case the doc is wrong.
But, if you ask me a question where the answer is in the code, the proper answer you seek, in the detail you need, then I'm going to ask you to read the code first and only ask me what's left.
Perhaps the story is true as retold, or maybe the original guy asked about the right things and read the code for the rest, but people watching from the outside couldn't tell and conflated it all, turning it into a story of ladder-pulling bitterness.
That doesn't really ring true for me because I want coworkers taking responsibility for these odd systems (that they have to find me to ask about). But I don't want to be stuck in the role of their System-X guy who they get to do their changes. This guy's incentive would be to walk the line, educate and hand-off.
>He told me what most people think of as job security is totally wrong. If you're the only person who knows something, you become a liability. But if you're constantly teaching and sharing that knowledge you become incredibly valuable to the organization. That's when you have job security.
Sounds like the VP of engineering was doing his job quite well. Set up new hires to share everything so when their salary becomes a burden you can "sadly let them go" when "necessary downsizing" occurs because they've given away the farm.
Don't get me wrong, I spend a ton of time mentoring those around me, but there's no planet on which I would give a document dump of my personal notes, ever.
Any personal notes are, by their very nature, shorn of the full context you have. They are always data, sometimes information, but never knowledge.
I once left a job where I had taken pains to document everything, to regularly teach what I'd worked on, and to help everyone, even beyond strict software functions, familiarize themselves with the systems in play as needed.
Were they glad I was relieving them of the cost of my salary? No, they were mournful. I would not be there to continue to draw connections between disparate items and serve as a voice of organizational experience. No amount of notes would replace my ability to, mid-meeting, say "That won't work" and explain why. Someone who had invested real time in internalizing those notes might -- might -- get there, but it would be difficult.
> If you're the only person who knows something, you become a liability.
Sorry, this is just wrong. You are a liability if someone thinks about you that way. Fortunately, not that many people are like that. In Contrary, if you are the only one to know something then you are regarded very highly and almost untouchable.
If you know something no one else does... sometimes the management is kinda aware that it's a problem, but they are too busy doing something else, so you can keep your job for decades with minimum work.
And sometimes you know something no one else does, and you want to share the knowledge, but management says no, because having you talk to someone else feels like a loss of time when both of you could be developing a new functionality instead... and then one day you leave, no one reads the documentation you wrote, and your successor ends up reimplementing from scratch everything you already did.
Sometimes it seems to me that the perception of your importance is proportional to the number of bugs in your code. If things keep breaking and you keep fixing them, you are a hero, and the company wants to keep you. If things work flawlessly, company assumes that it is easy and that you could be replaced at any moment by a random person who walks in.
It depends quite a bit on what it is you know, and what it pertains to, and how problematic it is.
If you guard the knowledge to the core application for how the company makes it's money, you're not going anywhere.
If you guard the knowledge to a component used in that core application, which while it's problematic to replace could be swapped out with a lot of effort, you are going to be walking a tightrope. As soon as it becomes more beneficial to replace that component than keep dealing with the problem of it being hard to deal with (because if it wasn't your knowledge would have little value), you're faced with the fact that a large chunk of your value to the company has just been obsoleted with it.
So when taking the hoarding info approach, just how irreplaceable is the thing you're guarding knowledge of? Often it's far more replaceable than people think, and often becomes more so as people hoard knowledge of how to deal with it. Unless you're that guy that's on call 24/7 to immediately deal with a problem, the fact that it all relies on you which is unsustainable will eventually come to light.
If you're the only person who knows something it can also mean you end up in a rut. You can't tackle interesting new stuff because you're stuck looking after the old stuff that no-one else understands.
When I assumed my current position,the first thing I told the owners of the business is that the biggest risk in the business is me and that the company should work towards getting someone in, who could partially cover some aspects of my job. They understood it well,but probably not too well, however some attempts were made to address the issue.
The position I assumed is pretty senior- I report directly to the CEO. As part of the change,I still retained some of my previous responsibilities+ gained a whole lot more.
I did it for two reasons:
1) it was the right thing to do,considering the situation. My approach is always to be open about issues within the business, even if it's my own department. This isn't university liked by my colleagues but appreciated by the CEO, as he knows I'll tell the real situation rather than that with a pink filter.
2) I will move on, sooner or later, and I'd rather have someone in place before that happens. I want the company to be successful in the same way as they've given me tons of opportunities that I successfully used.
3) There's a considerable backlog of things I need to do at any given time,so having more resources would free up my day+ speedup certain developments in the business.
I'm in this boat right now-ish. I don't want to be the person who only knows somemthing. I'd rather delegate it and then if I get sick I know someone else can cover the work needed to get the job done.
I just recently had my first junior developer assigned to me. Learning how to mentor, teach, as opposed to just getting a task done is harder than I imagined
> Learning how to mentor, teach, as opposed to just getting a task done is harder than I imagined
I've had the good fortune to inhabit a mentoring position twice in my professional career. Both have afforded me opportunities to teach new people as each business expands.
I find mentoring incredibly rewarding. But I also naturally enjoy spreading knowledge (I considered a career change to teach history at the university level, but didn't want to pursue the academic credentials). It's not just teaching the tech that's rewarding. I also enjoy sharing time management techniques, tips for writing solid documentation, and pointing out how to avoid gotchas that I've run into in my personal experience.
What I absolutely don't want is to join the ranks of management. A buddy recently moved up and he now spends almost all of his time in meetings. When he isn't in meetings, he's responding to the many people who need his attention for one thing or another. I wouldn't find that the least bit fulfilling.
This is what strikes me as tone-deaf about the grandparent comment with regard to "loving your job." I love my job because it pays well enough, I like the people I work with, and it doesn't intrude into my "real life." I hated my former employment, where ambition was a thing, because it dominated my life. It paid far better, but I was unhappy overall. What I have strikes the right balance, and that's rare enough that I treasure it.
Yeah, and it's particularly hard when you're still ultimately responsible for the result, but others are doing the work. That certainly brings some amount of stress. But also the money gets bigger and bigger.
> Sharing knowledge in the business world, never. That's a great way to lose a job.
If you're working at a functional organization that rewards growth, never sharing knowledge will ensure you put quite a low ceiling on your advancement.
I've written countless promotion justifications. Been on countless promotion review boards at several very successful tech companies. Being the best programmer, or what ever, is only going to get you so far. Advancement comes from teaching and leading others. You do that by sharing knowledge.
There was a broad HN discussion about this here on HN late last year .
And the top comment  is worth repeating here
Here's some of my learnings about getting promoted for those that really want to play that game:
- Only the perception of your work matters
- Attend the social events and get in good with the bosses
- The countability of your major achievements is important. Make the list long, too long to hold in the mind
- At the same time the gravitas of your best achievement is also important since that will be the soundbite that is shared about you behind your back
- Get allies who can proselytize about you behind your back
- Be the best. The difference between one and two is bigger than that between two and three, as far as promotions go
- Take credit for your work (use pronouns I and Me when talking about your work, not We) and do not allow others to take credit for your work
- If it's a teamwork situation with other people on your level, don't do most of the work, because the credit will end up being split 50/50 in the eyes of the bosses even if you did most of it
- Make a very good first impression
- Shape the narrative around the role you played in the success of the mission/team/company
- Get the bosses to make a soft public commitment regarding your competence
- Even if you have a really good boss, all of the above is still important, because they are fallible humans and aren't omniscient
- Actually do good work, it'll make the above easier
I can attest to that 100%. I work at a medium-sized startup, but we've got leadership from Youtube, Facebook, Amazon, and MSFT so I think it's pretty universal.
You can progress to a pretty decent level and pay as "the best programmer" up until a high senior role, which most talented folks hit after about 8 yrs of experience. After that, promotions start to depend on the extent to which you influence the direction of your group or even company, which is all about teaching and leading others.
I think of it as three stages:
* Learning: you may be good at completing well-defined work, but you generally need a mentor to guide and help you. in other words, the company at this point is investing in your growth.
* Building: you are now self-directed and able to work independently, capable of being assigned a possibly ambiguous product requirement and being able to solve it yourself.
* Leading: you are now at the point where you can be given a large, complex project with possibly ambiguous requirements and trusted to deliver. you can work with management to form a team, and can design the technical / architectural approach and break it down into smaller pieces which you can delegate to the rest of the team.
And once you hit "leading", it will grow in scope.
"Sharing knowledge in the business world, never. That's a great way to lose a job."
I think that depends on the role and the organization.
Generally organizations do not like to loose valued individual contributors unless the organization is somehow pathological (I know those exists).
A programmer that delivers value is always worth more than his or her paycheck. If you can dump his load to a more junior dev then that's great, there are other, more important things always that need doing. That is, if the business is growing.
The delta comes from my incredible work experiences / organization management in the Marines and then working for selfish and incompetent bosses in the civilian side. (I have had bad luck on the civilian side in the past.)
I agree if an employee needs to fight for leverage over their manager then hiding your notes is as good way to do that as any. But if you need to use this tactic it's a clear sign the workplace is not healthy.
So, instead of as general advice "never show your notes" - I would rise to a level above - first in good faith, but in a defensive posture observe if your employer rewards co-operation or selfishness - and then choose your tactic accordingly.
Falling under incompetent management is a double injury - the incompetence is both professionally reprehensive and being managed incompetently just hurts.
If you're a leader at an organization, it's important to make people feel like it's a positive thing to make the company need you less for a particular task.
At our company, we've had situations where employees automated themselves away or found somebody else to replace themselves. In response, gave them raises and helped fill their extra time with more interesting higher impact work.
> I'm the guy with the picture that's on puzzle box, rather than having to place each puzzle piece.
This is such a great phrase! It so succinctly captures a situation I think we've all observed many times, but I've always struggled to encode it in words.
> I've tried really hard to make myself obsolete and do something else, but it has backfired spectacularly.
How has this backfired, I'm curious?
I'm imagining that the future-you's fail to seamlessly slot-in, and management types don't have an appetite for broken eggs on the way to an omelette, when they already have an omelette in you?
> I'm useful and in essence acting as "an elder" store of information about the past & a slightly clearer view of the future.
I wonder, do you feel any anxiety about this?
As in, you're valuable at $COMPANY_X, but you're not challenged to better yourself beyond what you already are. Much of your value to $COMPANY_X derives from skills and knowledge that are specific to $COMPANY_X / $INDUSTRY.
For me, the anxiety would come from the question "sure, I have this here and now, but would I be able to reproduce this elsewhere, or what this a fluke?", and it would increase with tenure. :)
> How has this backfired, I'm curious?
> I'm imagining that the future-you's fail to seamlessly slot-in, and management types don't have an appetite for broken eggs on the way to an omelette, when they already have an omelette in you?
No, not that way - I took about 9 months off in the last 4 years, which has forced a replacement of my past self.
But there are still problems which are "new".
So in a manner of speaking, but more along the lines of filtering out all the easy problems with automation, documentation, others with similar skills - by the time the buck stops at my desk, I have nowhere to move it to.
Instead of being obsolete, I'm a SPOF higher up the problem complexity.
The more guesswork I do, the better I am at guessing what's wrong and every time I pull off a further "last minute miracle", the more entrenched I become, rather than obsolete.
> For me, the anxiety would come from the question "sure, I have this here and now, but would I be able to reproduce this elsewhere, or what this a fluke?"
The success part of it was a total fluke - lots of bets on me by others which came through.
Before I was a manager I used to always try and automate my job away. I was of course never able to completely do this and the result was never actually less work. Once you were able to automate away one task a new one would magically appear.
Of course to my surprise me trying to automate away my tasks only increased my value to the companies I worked for and now I, as a manager, try to encourage my reports to do the same thing so that they can focus on more important projects and personal growth.
I feel like I'm in a similar position on the automation side.
I've automated so much of what I'm responsible for that it mostly runs itself without issue. There are certainly stretches of time where I work my ass off, but mostly it's days of a couple of hours of light work and then being available to help people via Slack the rest of the day.
After 20 years of working and a sense of genuine burnout, I landed a "Dream Job" a few months ago where I'm doing tech leadership at a mid-size non-profit. We have a small familial team, a set of worthwhile and genuinely beloved public services and mission of doing good. There's still politics and revenue issues and all the sorts of stuff that a go along with any company, but it's a lot less aggressive. Work-life balance and diversity are genuinely respected. I'm busy, but it's not crazy. In my past I worked on so many gigs for companies I didn't care about or downright disliked. Building tools to grab eyes or sell crap no one needed. Working somewhere with a positive mission is so much more valuable to me than working on a cool tech stack (our stack isn't too bad, but we're not cutting edge either). I feel better about work than I have in a long, long time.
And before anyone asks, no we're not hiring. One tradeoff is that it's a very slow growth environment. We don't have VC funds to burn and our business model is very mature.
Yeah that's cynical ;).
I for example am with my current startup for 5 years now and can hardly find anything to complain about. Previous job was 4 years and was also ok although there it was a bit too much management for me me ;).
Before that I've been freelancing for 10 years where most of the time was also with the same company and also fine (there it was more that I got bored of software dev itself and did my PhD afterwards to get to more special topics than the generic embedded/network development I did back then)
Congratulations -- I left VC-funded tech for a nonprofit a few years back and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me (or I guess, that I did). It's certainly not perfect but working in an environment with people who believe in what they're doing and genuinely want to support each other has made a massive difference for my attitude as regards work in a general sense.
As someone who sympathizes with your comment ("tech stack complex and fugly") and has made moves both ways in terms of salary (high to low for QoL -25%, then low to high again +50%), start with your requirements.
OP did a great job of saying "Here's what I need." Until that's staked out, you don't know what's too little, enough, and too much.
But generally, minimizing and controlling costs (critically, through city choice) affords you flexibility. High costs = must work high paying job. Low costs = choice between working less, taking a job you enjoy more that pays less, or working more & saving.
I'll probably switch back to a lower paying job in the next 6 months or year, because I'd rather work on something I love, and because I'll have the financial flexibility to do so.
This can be the biggest factor. It can't be understated.
For example, my wife won't let me consider relocating and spends basically all her money on hobbies. This limits my job options to locally available ones (not a great area) and that I can't get a less stressful job because it pays less and I need my current salary to pay all the bills.
For many years my partner and I operated in the same way. I paid our rent, utilities and food while she spent on her hobbies and saved. I was not unhappy during this time because I didn't want much. A few years ago though, I became a bit more financially aware after having my first soul crushing job and realizing I couldn't rely on work to produce income in the same "easy" way I had when I was younger. The emotional cost had become too high. Managing this part of our relationship continues to be a multi-year process requiring ongoing discussions of what we have, what we want and what we'd be willing to do to get it. It feels like a muscle that atrophies, but I have made my peace with that because it works for us. I remind her what she wants and how she can get it by helping me now or spending less now. I even ask her to provide the same feedback for me. Her perspective on my spending is as important as my perspective of hers. I imagine we will regress in the future. Those moments will probably suck and cause a lot of stress. For now my only advice is to make a habit of these discussions in your relationship and protect the habit as long as you can.
"...having my first soul crushing job and realizing I couldn't rely on work to produce income in the same "easy" way I had when I was younger. The emotional cost had become too high."
I feel exactly like this.
My wife has basically changed what she wants (or stopped hiding it) now that we are married. She wants a big fancy house and she wants to live in an suburbanized and expensive area. She originally told me she wants to live in the country and own land. This area isn't the country and we can't afford land around here.
She doesn't care about her spending. She has never been required to support herself or even live alone. She would rather spend a lot on a her expensive horse hobby than contribute to our kid's college or our shared bills. By expensive I mean she spends as much or more each month than I do on the mortgage. One month of her hobby expenses equals what I spend in an entire year on hobbies, and many of my hobbies have a return on investment (like foraging/cultivating mushrooms, growing a garden, etc).
I've come to accept that I will be stuck here and miserable. I don't see myself living past 50 in this condition, so I just have to endure this until then. I don't really see much reason to try extending that either.
How? With a divorce, GP commenter will be required to continue supporting his* ex-wife's hobbies financially, now without any option to balance then with his own earning. He will not be permitted to earn less and reduce the spending proportionally.
On top of that if there are any kids he will be required to take up a portion of her only responsibility.
He can move to any country that doesn't have debt collection agreement with US (assuming he's from US). Like Philippines or New Zealand. Or just make himself judgement-proof. Convert his savings to Bitcoin, quit his job and work cash jobs. Court cannot force him to earn less.
Unpaid child support will result in an arrest warrant in many states. The debt itself may be civil, but it's a crime to avoid the court mandated payments.
My father in law was in a coma for a while and the child support payments stopped and he went broke from the lack of job and medical bills. They arrested him multiple times after that because he wasn't paying. Of course that gave him a criminal record and made it much harder to get a job.
(throwaway because I don't like to mix discussions of my relationships with professional discussions)
I was in a situation freakishly similar to yours for over 10 years. In late 2019 I left her, and while it was one of the hardest decisions of my life, definitely the hardest day of my life, and the road to a mentally healthy(er) position has been ongoing, it has proved to be a wise decision. I spend far less of my day feeling resentful, unvalued, and unvalidated, both individually and in my new relationship. In my own time and in counseling with a professional, I have learned many lessons about myself, what I want out of life and in a partner, and how to be my own advocate.
I deeply empathize with your position and you deserve to be happier. I hope this experience of mine might give you some vicarious experience to draw from, and I encourage you to consider making a change.
You're getting a lot of unsolicited advice here, from folks who mean well but all of us here can't know the particulars of your situation.
That you're posting this on HN suggests that you would really like to have someone to talk to about this, at the very least to feel heard about it.
From personal experience, consider a therapist for a while - starting just on your own. There's nothing wrong with you, but you're in a sticky situation and are unhappy, and you're worried about the implications for your daughter and your own longevity. It can be really nice to have someone to talk through this stuff with, especially when it might be tough to talk with your wife about it, at least at this point, if she's causing the problem. I don't know about you, but it helps me mentally figure out what to do when I can talk about it, and (good) therapists are good at pulling our thoughts out and letting us think about all the angles.
It's pretty low stakes, and while they do cost some money, it's not a ton (compared to the horses!). And it can really help you think through the particulars of your situation over time, which it's tough for any of us here on HN to do, and when it's time to do the tough stuff - like broaching the subject with your wife - you have got someone in the therapist who knows the background and can help you deal with any fallout.
Good luck. You deserve a happy life. Your daughter deserves a good future. We only get one shot at this.
I agree with the other comments that you need to do something, but I'm going to disagree with that you should jump to divorce as the first step. You haven't said what you have already tried, so I suggest:
1) telling her how you feel, in the form of "I feel X when you do Y". For example, "I feel unvalued when you spend more on your horse than we do on the mortgage. I feel scared for our kid's future when you prioritize your expensive horse over saving for his/her education. I feel trapped when you spend the money I make without deciding together how to spend it." It can be hard to know exactly how these actions make you feel unless you've practiced thinking about it, so you might want to write it down and revise it over a week or two. Also, depending on how your wife takes feedback, you might want to have discussions of just one at a time.
2) marriage counseling.
3) setting boundaries: "my standard of being treated is <...>" and take steps to "enforce" them. The easier levels are along the lines of "I want to be talked to respectfully, so I will leave the room when you do not, but when you are ready to talk respectfully, come and get me." I'm not sure how you communicate "I think our budget should look 25% house, 20% food/clothes, 10% retirement, 10% kids education, etc, which leaves $X for optional things like horse; if you need more than that you'll need to get a job" without being unilateral, though. But you have some financial values/boundaries that are being crossed and you need to communicate / enforce those.
4) It would be a bad sign if your wife didn't respond positively to any of the above. However, even in that case you could get counseling for yourself on how to respond healthily, and you are also likely to get insight into why your wife is behaving this way (the counselor might notice consistent signs of co-dependency, for instance).
5) Read pre-modern stories about how spouses handled toxic behavior. (The quasi-mythic ones that start off "There was once a woman in ... whose husband ...") I've read a few Japanese stories about wives that change the incentives for their husbands and they stop being drunkards and start being productive. (There's fewer stories the other way, but those exist, too.) Some of these stories are quite creative solutions; maybe something like that would work with your wife.
Don't just stay stuck and miserable, though. There are many ways to defeat the giants.
You need to change something. Other people have better advice, or at least specifics due to personal experience. But I can see that you are living in resentment and hell. There is no way your relationship with your wife is healthy. You've got a kid right? That child is watching you two and learning what it means to be in a relationship. They pick up on stuff left unsaid, you aren't hiding anything successfully (if you are indeed trying to hide these feelings).
Would you want your child to grow up to feel the way you do now? You're giving them the lesson plan right now.
As a married woman, I’d say leave ASAP.
Your mental health is most important to a fulfilling life.
People marry the wrong person every day. Divorce is the way out of this situation. Judges are more realistic today about women and their plots.
Write down and document everything. Find a couples therapist so you have on record you are trying to make the marriage work for everyone.
The therapy will either make your wife “grow up” and perhaps better your relationship or it will show her inability to deal with reality of marriage as a working relationship.
Don’t be the guy that hates his life. There is the right person for you out there. Take that first step for your own sanity.
Her parents can help her out financially. She knows this too!
Get a divorce attorney now, because you'll need one later.
For now, just because you're married doesn't mean you have to have complete sharing of finances. Get your finances completely separate. Create your own bank account; have your salary go there. Cancel any shared credit cards. Lock your credit report so new accounts cannot be made using your social security.
Then, offer to pay 1/2 the mortgage each month; or, better yet, let her pay the full amount from her own wages.
I am also an avid equestrian but support myself and my hobby on my own (which also costs more than my share of the rent). And I have to admit, I feel a bit envious of those who managed to make a fool work and sustain them without caring the smallest amount. But I hope it will bite her back the day you will leave her because you sound too miserable to stay in this relationship.
To what end? There is no award for Longest Suffering Person, just a life of wasted opportunities.
The repercussions and coping mechanisms are likely to only get more destructive the longer you put off dealing with misery. May you find your bliss, internet stranger.
I can relate to this but my wife is attractive, smart, honest and loyal so it seems like a fair trade. I earn all the income, do most of the house chores, spend almost nothing on myself, buy her almost everything she wants, move to whatever country she wants to go, I let her win all arguments (including arguments about who does the most chores). Thankfully when she sees me getting overly stressed, she gives me some slack. She even stayed with me after we ran out of money (I say we because we share all bank accounts) - Running out of money is the best test for a relationship.
My wife is almost 100% consumer and I'm almost 100% producer. She latched on to me the second we met. She initiated. I was a poor and shy college student at the time so it was quite a shock for me to suddenly receive so much attention. It's like she knew something about me that nobody else knew, not even myself. It's like she could see through everything and see the pure productive potential.
She spends a lot of time at home reading books (mostly non-fiction) and browsing the net (she reads a lot of online articles about a wide range of topics) and chatting with her friends on social media (most of her friends live in different countries because we traveled a lot). We do a lot of outdoor activities together but aside from that she doesn't like to do much. We both spend most of our time at home because I work remotely. She hates working or doing anything productive. She even tried painting once and is good at it but she could never be an artist as she is allergic to the idea of earning money.
From reading your other replies, if you're staying in it for the kids; don't. If my parents were deeply unhappy with each other I'd much prefer they went their separate ways than to suffer through the marriage just for me.
Agreed. Also, you're actually hiding the kid from the support they need by staying married. They're not considered a child of divorced parents, yet they might live the worst lives of all. People who live together but don't like each other aren't exactly good parental role models, and they also hog the opportunity for others (go dating!). Staying together means children don't get the support, and parents don't get the support/ suffocate. If this is happening, do you really think your child is currently getting a fair childhood?
Aren't you and your wife sharing responsibility equally or proportionally at least? It is unfair for one partner to bear the brunt of stress and the other to thrive. Sounds like some compromises need to be made here.
Yep. She doesn't really care. She says nonsense stuff. Like I should get a different job. But we can't move, so my options are limited. I pay all the bills and would need to take a pay cut if I switched jobs, so we would have to at least sell the current house and move to an much smaller one.
Another good example is that she said I should keep my nice car and keep doing track days when she found out I was going to sell it. Well, were getting married and having a kid. With what money am I expected to do all this? It had to be sold for the budget to work.
You don't have to be a victim.
If you earn x, and she earns y, it's perfectly OK in a relationship to get a job that pays only y.
I think your wife doesn't want you to be a victim either, maybe she is just not good with finance.
You can be happy in a smaller house as well.
Good relationships require clear communication and some semblance of equality.
If you're serious about staying with her, then you need to balance your needs against hers. It's a perfectly valid thing to say "I hate my job. I'm looking for one I enjoy more that pays less. If that happens, I won't be able to pay for your horse. If you want to keep your horse, we need to find a way to balance the budget."
Either she cares about you and has never developed financial muscles, in which case you two can get through with some hard decisions and be happier.
Or she doesn't care about you, and you should split.
While my wife and I are mostly eye-to-eye on bills, etc., we are in a disagreement on where to live. We live in Texas, a state I loathe. I'm not from here. I grew up in Europe. My wife is from this area. She makes twice what I make. Both of us love the scenery and overall PNW vibe. I have been trying for years to get my wife to move. She finds every excuse in the book. Meanwhile, neither of us are getting younger. Our daughter is graduating HS soon. This leaves a kid in the house for several more years. Once my daughter is off on her own, I suggested being able to downsize (no real opposition there), maybe buy a nice double-wide trailer on our own land (no real opposition), and save money on taxes, etc., in the PNW close to a fairly large conurbation where we could work.
It's tough trying to get someone to see your PoV. Maybe do a spreadsheet with numbers to show her how you could get ahead elsewhere, keeping in mind her hobby. Big houses suck. Literally. Ours is ~2500sf and the upkeep is ridiculous. Maybe sell it as, "we could both do more with our respective hobbies if we had a cheaper outlay every month. We can only be in one room at a time, so having a lavish house is more to impress others than for our own benefit. I encourage you to pursue your hobby (within reason/set a budget maybe). Set a budget for you both outside of essential spending (housing/utilities/medical) and stick to it. I now no longer buy computers. I buy RPis and do things with them. They have a command line. I'm happy. My wife gets her happiness from attending sports games of our children. Her other hobby is gaming. Sell the idea of moving to a cheaper state with less taxes/cheaper property taxes and downsizing but keeping her hobby. It's all about compromise (but not your dignity). Remember, love is not a sentiment or emotion, it's an act of the will. Love wills the good of the other for the other. Find a way to make you both "happy" while giving you both what you want. I'm sure a nice, expensive house with high taxes and ugly upkeep costs would take a back seat to your wife's hobby (at least I would hope it would). Chart it out with numbers and present them. You owe it to yourself to stand up and set the tone, but do so with respect and tangible ideas that you can execute on. Everyone has great ideas, but almost no one can execute on them well.
As someone from the Gulf South who lived in the PNW for most of a decade:
There is a not insignificant chance your Southern wife will be incredibly miserable in the PNW. It is gorgeous and green but it is also grey, and if your wife has not lived in similar conditions before, it is very possible that the lack of Actual Sun will start giving her heavy seasonal depression.
A huge sun lamp will help. So will regular megadoses of vitamin D. But she may be like me and find that even with that, the urge to kill herself gets louder and louder every winter.
I moved back to my very culturally weird Southern birthplace a couple of years ago and that urge completely vanished.
Thank you for the information. Fortunately, we are both overcast lovers, so the SAD angle would likely not play a huge role. Growing up in Europe myself, I prefer 9 months of overcast and rain. I'm at a high risk for skin cancer, so this features into my desire to move as well.
For my wife, the primary reason is that her parents are here. She doesn't want to leave them, which I can understand, but at the same time, they are loaded and want for nothing. My parents are long gone, so I have zero attachment to the area other than my wife.
No matter how rigged the courts are, it can't be worse than spending 100% of your money taking care of the two of you. You'll still need to stay in the same city for custody, but at least you can switch to a less stressful job.
Also, you should keep your eyes peeled for remote jobs.
At this point you're participating in your own abuse. Your relationship is unbalanced and objectively broken. If you're unwilling to entertain any realistic solutions then you're wasting everyone's time complaining about it.
You should seek out real help, either a therapist or marriage counselor. There's no actual reason for you to stay in your current broken state. Your made up reasons are equal parts bullshit and naivety.
I wasn't going to jump into this thread and I don't want to turn this into "Relationship News" but, I feel like I need to let you know.
I grew up with divorced parents who were together longer than they should've been and let me tell you, kids know. They absolutely know when their parents are together but can't stand each other and what's worse, they may assume it's their fault.
I grew up with parents who divorced when I was 18 months old when it became clear they did not love each other anymore. But they both wanted the best for me, and didn't do the petty shit I've heard about other couples where they shit-talked each other to the kid or something. They split time with me evenly.
They both eventually got re-married and are very happy and I have no regrets about how my childhood went in that regard.
Looks like you are less than 10 years into the marriage. Get out ASAP. You are stuck with alimony for basically half the length of your marriage. Unless it exceeds 10 years. Then you are stuck for life.
Wow, those are some crazy laws. Child support is mandatory around here, and follows well defined rules, but spousal support ("alimony") is much less well defined and (in my limited understanding) less common and shorter lived.
Edit: "around here" being Australia and New Zealand
Yeah, if one thinks that kids are expensive they're probably making the right decision of not having any. It is true having that children require changes in the parents lives, which are not only financial, a lot of time gets sunk into family and children. One must enjoy it. I personally do though I can't say I would've said the same thing before having my family, I did not know what it would be like. There is a great positive side and that is the great reward this brings. My life took a different turn for sure and it is for the better.
There's a term for this (anyone know?) - when someone says life has improved and attributes it to specific events when really it would have improved on any number of other paths they could've taken too. The underlying factor is that "time passed and things happened".
You imagine the alternative as staying in the spot you were in, but of course that's impossible. There are all kinds of random encounters and unknown unknowns that would have happened.
I was on a stagnant personal development trajectory for a while and having a family unleashed stored potential. It is impossible to know exactly how things would have turned out in an alternate reality but if I feel that things took a better turn and that is enough for me to feel satisfied.
That's a good way to put it, and I don't doubt you. It's just that the childless are frequently spoken to as if getting a family is the only way to unleash this potential, and I want to provide a counter-view.
Kids are not that expensive. You do not have to send them to college, you just have to love them, teach them, care for them. Sure you will have to buy more food, and you might need a bigger house/apartment.
My opinion only- For the middle class going to college is not seen as optional. Doing the same expensive activities as the other middle class kids is not seen as optional. There are millions of working class people in the US with good lives, but most middle class people would never seriously consider not following middle class norms.
Not paying for your kid's college doesn't mean they don't go to college. I went to a very respectable state university with loans that I paid off within 3 years after graduating. I've worked at some of the top companies in the world. It's very attainable and not unreasonable.
Totally agree. You can graduate from your state school with <$100k in debt easily. You can get much lower debt levels if you don't stay in the expensive dorms (with expensive meal plans) after your freshman year, if you plan ahead and graduate in 4 years, and if you apply for many local/state scholarships (in my experience the national scholarships are a waste of time).
As an engineering student, you can also get paid internships each summer (can often pay >$10k) or can be a paid research assistant for a professor during the year for ~10 hours week (pays for groceries each week).
Or you can go in the Air Force, be a "civilian in uniform" (Air Force is really easy), and have Uncle Sam pay for your degree at night while you get free room and board, free meals, free medical and dental. It's an option for those people not opposed to military service. The AF really is an easy row to hoe. Personal experience. Show up with a clean uniform, good attitude, and everything is easy peasy lemon squeezy. My military service paid for my own degree. Nothing says crappy life like emerging from university behind the power curve because you're in massive debt, paying back student loans while struggling to pay rent, medical costs, transportation costs, ad astra... Start your working career not in debt. Just my 0.02.
Editing to say that if you make the military a career, you can literally save almost your entire salary if your personal peccadilloes are minimal. I knew guys that decided 4 years was enough and emerged after 4 years with over 50k in savings while paying nothing and they also got the BA/BSc degree on Uncle Sam's dime. They emerged debt free, degreed, and ready to start the next stage of their lives. Doing 8 years gets you a masters all the while doing nothing but work a job with everything paid for. At that rate, you might as well do 20, marry another member and have a steady retirement at 39 or 40 with money enabling you to pursue a job you really love because you can afford to live where you want. Bonus: Tri-Care military medical costs $500 year on retirement. Cannot touch that out here.
You can get much lower debt levels if you don't stay in the expensive dorms (with expensive meal plans) after your freshman year,
As someone who lived off-campus the entire time and regretted it, I do think that spending at least freshman year in dorms is a really good idea to make friends and get to know the school's culture and environment.
if you plan ahead and graduate in 4 years, and if you apply for many local/state scholarships (in my experience the national scholarships are a waste of time).
My advice to my younger self would also be to take more student loans so I wouldn't have to work. I had to work to pay tuition, but working made keeping up with school impossible. Catch 22.
Depends on a lot of factors -- morning vs. night chronotype, how close work is to school, how close school and work are to housing, how many hours work demands, whether your landlord is insane and kicks you all out with 3 days notice right before the semester to rent to a family, etc.
I would still have worked most if not all of my summers, but never more than 5 hours a week during the semesters. My job, which I actually really liked, demanded 20, which also required another 6-10 hours commuting on top of 5-8 hours of commuting to school.
I had also worked in tech for a year before starting school, so I was a bit less worried about having experience to list. And in the end it didn't matter because I started a company and ran that for 5 years instead.
This is pretty much my own history, too. (I think I took three years to pay them off, too!) And yet, many--I'd say most--people out there don't want to be computer programmers or work in other technical fields. They still need degrees to be employable at all in most fields, and with the state of student debt, it's pretty reckless to just roll out claims like the ones you've made.
"Affordable" is doing a lot of work there, particularly when before you didn't say "affordable" and did say "very respectable".
I went to a "very respectable" public land-grant university in my home state and today that school costs $15K a year outside of room and board ($35K/year for out-of-state), and students should live on-campus at minimum the first year--so let's say, best case, you're looking at $70K for in-state. Plus living expenses, and despite your claims elsewhere in-thread I can personally attest that part-time jobs even ten years ago took a bite out of but did not solve the problem of food, board, etc.--so we're probably talking closer to $100K when all is said and done.
Even if you assume some defraying of costs, a student loan bill of $50K (which was about what I left school with) is staggering for many non-technical folks, coming out of college looking at salaries closer to $40K than $100K when they can find a job at all. Further, the knock-on effects are financially hazardous. If you end up on income-based repayment because, y'know, jobs are hard to find unless you're a computer toucher and even then there probably aren't enough for everybody, you will be paying less-than-interest, and the principal only grows.
Put frankly, I would advise the cultivation of more empathy for those not as economically advantaged as you or me. This stuff is staggeringly, mind-wreckingly expensive for people who aren't in tech, and yet functionally required because of the structures we have allowed to be built.
> This stuff is staggeringly, mind-wreckingly expensive for people who aren't in tech, and yet functionally required because of the structures we have allowed to be built.
Society has always worked this way. Those who have rare skills get paid the most. Supply and demand and what not. Universities are gateways to advanced skills, especially in traditional occupations where equipment is often expensive (medical, chemical, mechanical, etc). The reason you go to a university is so that you can get advanced skills in order to make an advanced salary. It makes no sense to go to a university by default and come out with a degree that doesn't teach you advanced skills that get you a high wage. If the jobs that your degree are going to get you aren't going to pay for what that degree cost you then you made a poor decision by taking on that debt.
This sort of thing is why I believe basic economics should be a hard requirement in high school. You shouldn't be able to get a high school diploma without understanding the mechanisms of debt/leverage. So many people have screwed themselves over because they don't understand that the only reason to ever take on debt is to use it as leverage so that you can earn even more than the debt you took on. Any other reason is foolish.
It's really sad when you think about it, so many people would be way better off if they knew the definition of leverage. Such a simple concept, yet so powerful (it's funny how knowing about leverage gives one so much leverage in life).
Man, that's weird. US really is different to our North-European way of life.
We are middle class and have two kids but our kids have close to no hobby expenses. Our son is vehemently anti-hobby and daughters dance and piano lessons are not really that expensive. On the other hand we have no-one close for whom we should "keep up appearances".
Government will pay for the kids degrees. Ditto for healthcare and the dentists for kids are excellent.
I know some kids play hockey or whatever and that can be a bit steep but never have I felt such would be a mandatory hobby. Neither of my kids really showed interest for any team sports and we gladly obliged not to force introduce them.
Sure you need to buy food for 4 persons and wash a bit more laundry, but that's about it when I think of the "overhead" caused by kids. The necessity for an apartment with a few more rooms is probably the biggest financial burden but loans are cheap.
The fact only one of us is capable of working due to health reasons is a much bigger issue financially than having kids.
It’s not the US, it’s a certain income bands in the US. This forum is probably full of many people who earn at least $100k per year, if not much more, and are likely to be partnered up with someone earning the same. Naturally, if you’re hanging out with people that have a lot of disposable income, they’re going to use that to give their kids as much of a leg up as they can to maximize their kids’ chances of moving up to the next step on the ladder.
They're also tend to blow money on things that have no real use whatsoever yet they fervently believe they are absolutely necessary to live a normal life even though 95+% of the planet lives without them.
Some things, but I think it's evident that the neighborhood/friends/schools/network you make are a big factor in one's upward mobility, so parents are willing to part with a lot of money to increase those odds.
But it is optional. There's social pressure for all kinds of things, including getting married and having children.
You have to figure out how to get food & shelter and follow local laws. Everything else is unequivocally optional. I would argue that "not seen as optional" is just a way of saying "I don't own up to my choices."
Agreed with not sending them to college. My wife and I are not paying for college. I have a daughter who is getting close to graduating HS. She has two choices: get a local job and attend the local university or go in the military and have Uncle Sam pay for it. I did the latter many moons ago and I'm glad I did. These days, if you are disciplined, you can go in the Air Force, for example, and get your degree in less than 4 years almost free. If you hate it after four years, you leave debt free, have veteran status and hiring preferences, and you paid nothing for your medical/dental/lodging/food. If you like it, go back in as an officer and still not pay for anything other than a tiny officer housing sum for single officers. If you marry an officer and do 20 years, you can salt away some serious cash and still be young enough at retirememt (39-40 yo) to get a second gig. If the government doesn't ruin Social Security, you'll get that, too. All the while not paying for medical or dental, two things which out in the civilian world are costly. Just my 0.02.
Editing to say that kids are not too expensive if they're healthy. If you have children who have medical conditions, then all bets are off. What really pisses me off is the local school district always begging for money. I pay those thieves almost over $5000 year in property tax, since we live in an area with ridiculous property taxes. Whenever I've visited the school and my children have also seen this, they beg for school supplies, but the closets in all of my kid's classrooms are brimming with supplies. They spend more on sports than they do on education, which really irks me. Sports may be important, but nowhere near as education. 1% of 1% go on to play pro sports, but here they act as if sports are more important. Classes are let out early to watch games, yet the school district where we live is a poor performer academically. My own children are fine, but that's because we watch and are involved.
Strictly speaking the problem isn't that the kid is expensive, it is that, per your two options, 1) childcare is expensive, and 2) London / their spending habits are too expensive to support a stay-at-home parent. There are lots of other choices that one can make, although they are problem not the common choices. They might actually be happier with some of the other choices, from stories I hear of people that sat down and thought about other options.
It really has nothing to do with being able to support a stay-at-home parent or not. If you're bringing home 100k a year and quit your job to raise kids then the opportunity cost of having kids is 100k a year. The fact that you can afford to 'lose' that money doesn't change that.
Now you may think it's worth 'paying' 100k a year to gain all the non-monetary benefits of staying at home and raising kids, but that is a separate discussion.
My experience- I had my first kid when I was totally broke. Working multiple minimum wage jobs. Everything was thrift store, hand-me-down, government assistance. Instead of child care, I worked every day and night so our kids could be with their mother.
As I built my career, my lifestyle inflated, and so did the kid’s expenses. We make in 3 days what used to take us a month.
The kids get to share our lifestyle with us. It’s probably different for us because we’ve never been well off + not have kids.
Funny you mention this. I live near Houston, Texas, soon to be, if not already, the 3rd largest city in America. What I'm seeing around me in north Houston burbs is somewhat disturbing, namely two things: 1. An outbreak of RV parks (6 near me in less than two years) 2. An outbreak of tiny home parks (Several in my area). What pains me is driving by the RV parks, where entire families are living in an RV not much larger than my kitchen and I see kids boarding the school bus. Some of you may disagree, but that is no way for a child to grow up. While I don't have anything against this per se, the stigma of that lifestyle can damage children. The rotten-ass kids at school make terrible fun of children who live in trailer parks, RV parks, tiny homes. Of course this is no fault of the children in those conditions, as they have no say in how they live, only in how they perform at school. This area lives and dies by oil and gas jobs. It's likely no accident that in the last couple of years, those jobs have bottomed out and many people have lost their jobs. I don't know if there is a correlation between the job losses (tens of thousands) and the number of cheaper housing accommodations springing up, but it's real and it's somewhat disturbing to see so many people in a down-and-out state.
Editing to say that these are not the $500,000 RVs that retired people holiday in. They are kitchen-sized campers (for lack of a better term) that may be the size of 6-8 cubicles. They need outside water connections which many don't have, and they almost always need propane attachments. Many have composting toilets which the owner needs to clean out, as they cannot connect to the sewer lines.
An acceptable daycare for the "professional, white collar" class is minimum $1,500 per child per month and doctor visits are at least $200 or $250 out of pocket each time for regular viral/bacterial infections.
Kids aren't cheap if you want to keep up with your socioeconomic class. And by far the biggest cost is the extra you pay for a house to be located near other high earners so that the schools your kids go to is filled with kids of other high earners.
I make less money than someone in the US, but daycare for me is 250 euro (it was 500 until 3 years old) and public daycare would be cheaper still. Visiting the doctor for a random virus brought back from school costs exactly 0 (a private visit would be around 100 euros). An orthodontist, if needed, would be the only major expense for a child apart from clothing and food.
University will be about 4000 euros a year at most (and would be cheaper if I earned less).
Sure, you don't have to send them to college, but if you don't help them pay for some sort of education or training after high school, you're doing them a massive disservice if you can afford it at all.
You may say, oh well they can just get loans, true, but you can only get so much in federal loans before you have to get private, non dischargeable loans for ~ 7% interest.
Alternatively, you might say oh, they can just join the military. Only problem is the Air Force and Navy don't want little Johnny and now he's getting blown up doing patrols with the 3rd ID in Iraq (I lost my childhood best friend this way).
TLDR: If you don't want to help your kid pay for college or trade school, just don't have them. No one should have to go deeply in debt or put their lives at risk to earn a decent living.
Many people would qualify for CHIP. But of course that only applies while they are children. If they are disabled, then they would likely qualify for social security and medicaid as adults depending on the severity type. The real issue is that they may need help with the administration of the benefits or with things not covered after the parents pass away.
Social security disability is incredibly difficult to live on. Depending on the individual's work history it can pay as little as $700/month. The average beenfit is $1263 but it's only that high because most people claiming it became disabled but had (or their spouse had) a productive work History before that. People with lifelong disabilities will be well below that.
You can supplement with part-time work but that only gets you so far. As soon as you start making money on disability, you lose 1 dollar for every two. And the most you can make is $1260/month. At that point you lose Medicaid and any progress you've made is lost because insurance is way more than you are making.
You effectively top out at $1263 + $1260/2 = $1893/month. Rent is going to claim 1/3 to 1/2 that.
I think you question is very sincere and VERY UNIQUE for this community because every other question is asking for the exact opposite. That's why there are a lot of interesting replies as well as a lot of interest in the question itself.
Is your hobby/"passions (which are not monetizable)" expensive? And are you 100% certain they are not monetizable?
In today's world, I have yet to see something which is not monetizable. Unless you are referring to something which is too competitive - even that can be monetized....though monetization itself might require too much work which goes against your requirement so I understand.
> And are you 100% certain they are not monetizable?
I learned that once I try to monetize my hobbies, there’s a very real risk that they become stressful and no longer fun and invigorating. Sometimes it’s best to keep hobbies as just hobbies.
Or, at least, make sure you have some hobbies that will only ever stay hobbies. Nothing wrong with trying to do monetize something you love, just don’t let it be the only thing you love to do, so you still have something when you have a stressful day doing the first thing.
Yeah. I have since went out of my way to develop some new hobbies that have nothing to do with my work. I used to program a lot because it was fun (and I still do for fun every so often) but after doing it for work for many years, I often feel like its sucked much of the fun out. I can usually still enjoy working on stuff that's very different from the day to day (eg tinkering with 3D graphics), but I don't have quite the same level of drive and enthusiasm I once had.
So I picked up sleight of hand card tricks a few years ago as something to do that had nothing to do with computers and last year I started to learn to play the guitar. I have no intention of ever trying to monetize either of these hobbies. They're purely for fun, to relax.
I have other hobbies too, but too many revolve around computers or tech and after a long day in front of the screen, its good to get away and do something completely different.
there are also a lot of endeavors that at core are not compatible with profit/capitalism. meaning that as soon as you start monetizing them, that inevitably perverts the core incentive of said project on the long run and restrain the possible trajectories of evolution.
YMMV, but I've also found that treating all side projects as potential businesses sort of...takes the intangible quality of magic / fun / joy out of those side projects for me.
For OP: it's OK to not want to monetize everything you do, even if those things might potentially be monetizable (which most things are, as the parent comment mentioned) - past some point, the incremental value of really, truly enjoying more of your time can have way more value than even fairly large amounts of additional money.
Where that point lies exactly is a matter of debate, and probably depends greatly on how you place value on intangible experiences vs. tangible things. From experience, many people in the tech industry are well past this point but don't realize it, largely because we have a cognitive bias towards comparison with those around us. (Also, the above framing suggests strongly that we can learn to change where that point is for ourselves.)
> In today's world, I have yet to see something which is not monetizable.
Plenty of artists out there who love making art, and yet their art is simply not sellable. For many people this would be a source of disappointment, but for a lucky few they may realize they just enjoy creating art for its own sake, and not to sell it.
e.g. you like to play a lot of chess. So you COULD theoretically monetize it by making content about chess (youtube, ebooks etc.), maybe even do some events but still.. that's not the same as playing chess which is what is your hobby is about. Thus, making money with your hobby would then indeed not relate (much) to the actually fun part about the hobby. (although you can argue that working as a writer on your hobby is better than being a writer about something you're not that interested about. However, it might sour your hobby.)
Making a positive income on youtube is incredibly difficult. The competition is very high, the pay is pretty subpar, and the hours are long. You also need to take a few (yes, a few, not a couple) years off of your day job to work entirely on content and marketing to get your channel off the ground.
A topic like chess might take 60 hours a week of video editing over the course of years just to get to 4k/month in income IF you beat the nearest 10,000 competitors who are trying to make similar channels.
I believe that uBlock Origin fundamentally cannot be monetized without violating the spirit of the extension itself. It's meant to fight back against predatory monetization practices. We can only hope that gorhill will never believe the mantra that anything can provide a source of revenue if you just put your mind to it.
My job allows me to go back stage at Glastonbury and track-side visits at the Olympics, front seat views of royal weddings, orchestral pit on last night of the proms, and I have a fairly sedantry job of mostly pushing buttons.
Colleagues have spent days in jungles building bridges to drive cars over them, have got to know people living in random villages from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and share in their culture, have met and quizzed world leaders, have been to Antarctic bases, and have exposed and brought down criminal networks making lives miserable for thousands of people.
I guess you'd define that as "glorious toiling", but I could have 10m in the bank and never have to work again, but get to do very little of that.
> My job allows me to go back stage at Glastonbury and track-side visits at the Olympics, front seat views of royal weddings, orchestral pit on last night of the proms, and I have a fairly sedantry job of mostly pushing buttons.
I had a similar job once, where I worked in TV coverage of final table of WSOP (World Series of Poker). I was around the poker celebs at the time, preparing talking points for my boss who interacted with them, even have somewhere a photo of me sitting at the final table. My ultimate conclusion is... so what? Beyond a cool story to share with people interested in poker, there's little value in that for me, and I was a poker nerd then.
I'm unsure how this is a relevant reply. I guess if you interpret GP's comment as saying "I had a job that I could tell a lot of cool stories about," then you're right, that's not worth so much if all you get out of it is a "cool story bro."
But if you actually enjoyed living in those stories, then how can the ultimate conclusion be "so what?" Having an interesting and rich life that you enjoy is clearly a goal for many.
I've done some travel for work in my life. I did an extended stay in the UK (I'm American) when I was young and it was pretty amazing. Many years later I had a gig that needed me to spend time in spots around the US and also some stays in East Asia. All business class and expense accounts in first-rate cities and I hated it. I'm older now and I have kids at home that I didn't get to see. Taking a business trip to Tokyo always seemed like the ultimate Business Guy thing to do but I spent 80% of my waking hours in conference rooms with salary men.
You value different things at different times in your life, but looking back I'm glad I got to experience those things because most people don't get the chance.
On a related note, I think what you might call "low income" service jobs are often more likely to put you in contact with those sorts of people than some middle class job. Sort of like being a maid. Maids work for the rich and the rich are more likely to be those sorts of people. So a maid is more likely to know one of those people than a middle class person and in a way that is quite personal (you're in their house, possible living under their roof). I know of cases like that involving well known people. Naturally, the perspective is more quotidian and more accurate than the kind of comical celebrity fantasies middle class people often believe.
> My job allows me to go back stage at Glastonbury and track-side visits at the Olympics, front seat views of royal weddings, orchestral pit on last night of the proms, and I have a fairly sedantry job of mostly pushing buttons.
Mostly broadcast contribution and networking. Take the London Marathon in October, nice simple job given it's covid with 6 outgoing video circuits to national and international - some via satellite, some via dual-fibre - 4 incoming circuits, about 16 bidirectional audio channels, wifi across the compound.
Most of it is sitting at home making sure everything runs fine -- today I was looking into a supposedly resilient SRT connection that's dropping every few days - incoming packets from two different suppliers stop at the same millisecond, but the far end (not mine) insist they are coming from two different devices (which I can't believe)
Ok. Major British cultural event. It would have been helpful to include that since (I assume) most HN readers are American. And I guess Royal weddings are more popular than I thought, at least in the UK.
I think it says a lot about our society, that this comment is the most highly upvoted in a forum such as this.
It's clear that if we decided to let everyone's basic needs of food, shelter, healthcare, and transport be met unconditionally, the world would look very different. It would not cost us much, maybe even less than we pay in taxes now, but I feel certain it would make everyone's lives significantly better. The lack of unnecessary stress and "soul-destroying toil" that anyone would be forced to endure is surely worth it.
The only downside I see is that no one could get as extraordinarily rich as a very few people can today. I don't see how most of us can't be fine with that.
What if it was rotated among "everyone"? I think people would be happy to do grunt work for a week (probably even a month or two) if it meant that they get all the rest of their time back to do what they want.
> I'm basically in a job that is quite important for my org, I get compliments for good job, but I hate most aspects of my daily work since the tech stack is complex and fugly. I probably _appear_ motivated but I'm just a neurotic who hates failing. If I didn't need to feed and house my family I would have moved to a lower paying position long ago that is intrinsically more motivating.
I too hate failing. And many times end up working extra to get things done properly. This keeps me in very different position where my manager, team relies on me, praises me but end of day it takes toil on other parts of life. I have seen many people in my career, who just don't work, don't bother about product at all, do things at last moments, have literally zero affection for the craft and still survives in industry. I really envy them.
I am grateful to have good paying job in pandemic while many people laid off. But these days what I really need is to close my laptop at 5 pm WITHOUT ANY WORRY.
> I'm basically in a job that is quite important for my org, I get compliments for good job, but I hate most aspects of my daily work since the tech stack is complex and fugly
I think a lot of people can actually relate to this. IMHO, a good way to think about it is to consider that there's more granularity to work than a black-or-white "I like my job" / "I hate my job". Maybe you dislike meetings, but enjoy the feeling of triumph after fixing bugs, or maybe it's vice-versa. Maybe you enjoy helping coworkers get unstuck with your expertise despite working on a crappy stack. Maybe you take satisfaction in seeing the burndown chart go down each week, or maybe thinking about how to be a better tech interviewer is something that interests you. There's usually _something_ - even if it's a small trivial thing - that is nice about your day to day.
I often think of it in terms of parallels to meditation: honing self-awareness skills lets you realize small things that you might not have been aware of before. Walking to the supermarket might be a tiring chore, but hey look I never noticed that tree blooms beautifully in march, or hey I started to notice a small difference in my stamina, etc. You are in charge of your (limited) attention span, and you can choose to focus on the positive things - no matter how small - and let the rest naturally fall by the sidelines.
"Beyond that you are toiling, and if you like your job, it's glorious toiling like gardening (pleasing, but not important, but you love it, so it's great) or terrible toiling for living that eats your soul."
If you want my advice, it is simply this: look for dysfunctional companies. They're easy to recognize, because they look like pretty much the opposite of those companies everybody really want to work at.
Take everything you see from a website like Elastic for example and invert it:
- It should NOT be clear what the value proposition is.
- The website should NOT adhere to modern design standards, or at least do so very poorly.
- Bonus points for lots of unnecessary, buzz-heavy text that does not give any further indication of what the product/service offers.
Just look for any remote developer job via linkedin or any other place recruiters frequent and just invert what seems to be a "good" job and look for that instead. Approach it with your current attitude (maybe not in the actual interview) and assume that you probably won't even want to add it to your resume.
I think you won't have any problem finding a role where you can get away with this: how it will affect your mental health is another question, but that's for you to find out. If you ever want to bail out, you can just drop it and fill this gap period with something else in your resume, like whatever hobbies you were busy with.
For the record, I think the incredulity in some of these responses is pretty hilarious. 99,9 % of companies do not care about your well being as a person, by choosing this attitude you're really just treating them the way they are already treating you: a disposable business partner that will be removed from the equation as soon as they are no longer beneficial for you.
This theme is common in the thread and is wildly wrong.
First I recommend reading Bullshit Jobs to get some perspective on how others have fulfilled your goals.
Big, rich, process-driven companies and institutions are the easiest to do the least work in for the longest time.
Process is the toxin low-effort thrives on.
An admin role at Google pays more and works much less than an engineering role at a dysfunctional company.
If you look at (rich) university departments the admins are impossible to fire and work very little despite being paid only about 30-40% less than a professor with multiple postdocs working five to ten times as hard.
Anything in government: remember, process is where you thrive, and big rich city and state governments have incredible amounts of process.
I think this is the better advice here, and fits with some comments I left elsewhere in this thread about people I know working at MSFT and putting in only a handful of hours a week and still getting raises and promotions.
It's easy to do little when everyone expects everything to take forever because of how heavy the processes are in the organization.
There are also more experienced people who are just very good at certain types of tasks with the result that they can bang something out in a half day and everyone else assumes they must have spent a week on it. They're still generally available the rest of the time but they can produce what's considered high quality work in very little time. Of course, one needs to have that skillset and it helps to be mostly autonomous.
Working in govt is the way to achieve what OP wants. Especially in positions that are unionized. We call these people "lifers" or "gamers". They know how to game the union seniority system. Most of these people know how to phone in their work just enough to not get noticed and hop from one seniority-based position to the next before anyone catches on. By the time they've put in their 25 years, you've got a guy who majored in chemistry getting ready to retire from a senior software dev position. You can't fire them because they're union and it would take 6 months to a year to get all the documentation in order. And by that time, they've transferred to a different position.
Is THIS why Satya Nadella is so keen on getting everyone back in their cubicles. It makes everyone look like they're banging on their keyboards, nevermind that they're sending pictures on .... Teams? Can you do that on Teams? We use Slack. I was curious why he thought, "So much work gets done around the watercooler." I just thought he was a holdover from an earlier time. He's a smart dude, I'm not denying that. And I'm not young, but I'm not really working, usually, when I'm chatting in the snack room.
Maybe I'm too low level, though. That's a real possibility. I 100% admit that.
I think what he meant was that by being together and discussing problems we solve them a lot faster. This is absolutely true in my job. If I didn't know my team loved being remote so much, we would have been back in the office as soon as was safe.
I'd argue it's even more sinister than that; too much process can very quickly cause engineers to burn out, and since they aren't reprimanded in any serious way for not doing much work, they can sit and feel depressed without anyone even addressing it.
I think it's a reality of most of the giant, brand-name companies. Near the end of my time at Apple, I was certainly underachieving (hence why I quit), largely because I became incredibly burnt out from the process.
> Big, rich, process-driven companies and institutions are the easiest to do the least work in for the longest time.
You kinda need to weasel in there first. When I worked at Intel (& to a lesser extent, Microsoft and IBM) there were literally hundreds of little 5-10 person b.s. boondoggles that did nothing of value but had management that could spin like Rumpelstiltskin, just took the company for a ride. Get several levels of that management going and no one has to really produce anything, they just need a manager to create paper-thin goals and hit those. Why? Because managers want to retire on the job and with enough nepotism it is entirely possible to scratch each other's backs. Problem is, they are very defensive about bringing in anyone that could upset the applecart. If you find one and burrow in, enjoy it!
Yes to university or government jobs as being good places to "disappear" and still earn a decent salary (with generally very good benefits). It's also very unlikely you will get fired once you've been around for a little while.
> An admin role at Google pays more and works much less than an engineering role at a dysfunctional company.
There's two issues here:
1) The op asked for a technical role, so comparing an admin role to a technical one isn't helpful.
2) You're presuming Google is not a dysfunctional company.
I think point (2) is actually the more important one; reading through your comment, the type of "big, rich, process-driven" company is you describe is exactly what I thought of when the gp said "dysfunctional".
The only extra qualifier I would add to the gp is to "look for uncool dysfunctional companies". There are companies (like Google) that have what I would describe as a "cult factor", where they're able to create enough mythos around the brand that "good", hard-working, attentive & talented people want to work there purely based on the "culture" associated with the brand (and also having that brand listed on one's resume). This creates a competitive environment where the scale & bureaucracy might not be sufficient to save you from scrutiny.
The ideal place is somewhere exactly as dysfunctional as Google, but without the same reputation attached to the brand.
At least as far as Google is concerned, this hasn't been my experience. I spent ~6.5 years there working an hour a day at the most (cue Office Space, meeting with the Bobs) and AFAIK didn't raise any alarms. In fact, when I left, my colleagues complimented me on my "work ethic".
It wasn't just me doing that either. Most ppl are too busy focusing on whatever life goals and illusions they've crafted for themselves to really scrutinize what others are doing and even if they realize what's happening, why would they care?
Good to know. I haven't worked in Google myself so I can't comment from first-hand experience, but I've heard from other Googlers I know that this is very much not the case for them. Could be office location/team dependent I'm sure.
I guess in any large enough org you're likely to be able to find this in some areas.
There's definitely lots of overlap in the venn diagram of "process heavy" and "dysfunctional", but there are plenty of each category that is not the other. Lots of industries require process, and lots of startup type places are dysfunctional without being process heavy.
1. Look for a smaller antiquated company or department that doesn't understand IT, and has few if any in-house IT professionals. Make sure the role doesn't include user support. Look for "Operations" jobs.
2. Look for positions that have a TON of manual work. Search for "prepare daily/weekly/etc... reports." and similar job functions.
3. Automate as much of it as possible.
4. DO NOT TELL ANYONE that you have automated those functions.
(optional - ethical constraints)
5. Insist on working from home so you can work for multiple companies simultaneously.
Early in my career (23 years old) I made the mistake of automating (rule 4) and bragging about it. I wrote some scripts that automated AutoCAD drawing calculations and spit out some spreadsheets. It would save a draftsman or engineer the entire morning of work every business day.
Naive and hungry for recognition, I even did a couple presentations about the process and was very proud of myself.
Later, I was reprimanded by an 'old school' director for taking shortcuts and changing processes that were well-established. There was no process change, my script performed the same calculations that a draftsman/engineer would click and commit to paper every morning.... zero room for error.
My boss was also reprimanded for letting the 'new kids they hired' run amok and do things however they liked.
They still used my script though and began giving our group new responsibilities to manage with the time I had freed up.
I was in a role that hit 1 & 2 for my first 'job' out of college in 2008. They told me that I couldn't go on vacation if I didn't finish my entire 2 weeks worth of work once... so, I automated all of it. A couple button clicks right before I left town and boom, all of my work was done.
Eventually the marketing department caught on that I had a really fast way to build reports and marketing targets that didn't require using a cumbersome db marketing tool and manually generating reports. I shared what I had built, and it royally pissed off everyone else in my role because they thought they were going to lose their cushy do basically nothing jobs. It actually turned into the team building out more tooling + automation, and most people learned valuable skills. The company even sent people to training and paid for tech books etc.
I left shortly after for greener pastures, but overall I think it was a net win.
Items three and four I did at my first job (non-technical).
I had been screwing around with software through my teenage years building AOL chat tools and little mods for games - I never considered it for a career.
I was hired as a data entry clerk when I was 18 at a large hospital. The billing department would work in excel and print hundreds of pages a day for data entry clerks to enter into our insurance billing system.
It took me about two weeks before I realized that if I could get them to bring me the spreadsheets on diskettes I could write a program to input the data into the system for me.
It took me a few days to figure it out and then I completely automated my job for about six weeks.
I was busted reading the Dungeon Masters guide in the middle of the day by my boss.
She asked what I was doing and I explained “I am reading the dungeon Masters guide.”
I explained that I had written a tool to automate my job.
I had not signed a PIIA form and I wrote the software at home on my own computer. I guess the company had no legal right to take it, so she offered me $2000 and a promotion to the IT department to give the company the rights to my software.
I was making $7 an hour, so I was very excited at the 2k.
Why is it immoral? As long as the asked work gets done there's nothing wrong with splitting your time. How it any different from spending that time slacking off and working on hobbies, which could be monetized (ie art)
It's immoral because to be hired for a 40/hr full time job by 2 companies at the same time, you'll need to lie to both companies, representing to both that you're working full time, while in fact you aren't.
And presumably the lies aren't limited to the interview process. You'll probably have to lie on a daily/weekly basis to keep up the ruse (for example, what will you say when both companies want you in a meeting at the same time?)
A different take: in this line of work especially the “40 hour” requirement is an unethical backdoor way to impose a non-compete condition. It’s not entirely an arbitrary number since the 40-hour week has been customary for decades. But in practice there’s no good reason to demand that allocation of time for an exempt, salaried employee.
If you are paid by the hour it's immoral (and fradulent) to submit a time sheet for more hours than you actually work. However if you are paid a salary, you are being paid to do a job without regard to how much time it takes. If you can get the work done in 10 hours, and your supervisors are happy, then that's all you're obligated to do.
I often see this, but it doesn't match my experience of being salaried (outside the US). There's never a concept of "work done", there's just an endless list of things to do that I tackle one at a time, for 42h/week. If I go faster, then it just means I do more things in that same time.
Are there really salaried software jobs where every day someone tells you "your task for today is X", and you're finished for the day once you have done it?
We have expected productivity requirements on a bi-weekly basis. The expectation is that if you finish 2 weeks worth of work early, then the next iteration you will get slightly more work. Of course this isn't 100%, (obviously someone could just take longer on purpose), but as a manager its pretty easy to tell when your direct reports are slacking off.
Personally I don't think having 2 salaried jobs is immoral. If you're not caught, I feel like it is indicative more of bad leadership than your skill. A good manager should know what someone of X skill level should be accomplishing. If you're only doing half of that, (assuming the other half was spent on another job), it should be fairly easy to notice.
Thanks for the explanation. In practice, it seems pretty similar, the manager has to estimate what is a reasonable amount of work an employee should be able to do. It's just that in my case it's over 42h/w and in your case it's more nebulous.
2 salaried jobs here would clearly be illegal though, even if in practice you could manage manage it by only working half the time per job. There are laws around how many hours you can do in a week, and two 100% jobs would blow over the limit.
I don't think it's immoral if you get to accomplish all of your tasks in both companies. For what I understand, companies want you to do the work they hired you for; they make money out of you, otherwise they wouldn't need you.
Maybe a better way to be at 2 companies at the same time is by being completely transparent about working on both places with one of the companies. You automate all your full-time boring work in the first one, and in the second maybe you do part-time, or some kind of work that can align with your own interests.
maybe an etrepeneurial partnership or a flexible deal to get a new product that really interests you without having to commit all of your life.
That's called double billing and is considered unethical :
> In law, double billing refers to charging an hourly rate to two clients for the same time spent working. The American Bar Association prohibits double billing. It is tantamount to overcharging, since the amount of time actually spent working on any one client's work is less than the amount billed to that client.
Society is built on the lie of oppression; Religion, Law, and Private Property are built on a foundation of lies.
What is morality on a foundation of corruption? The entire system is designed to be exploited, somewhere along the line we forgot that we are all equal, then we entered into a societal agreement to forgo self-governance, for an external governance, thereby accepting external oppression, then we used things like ethics and morals as band-aids for when that oppression becomes too lopsided disadvantaging folks and groups... until basically you live in a society that if you really look at it closely looks no better than a Nazi State. How would you be able to discern that someone exploiting the system and some one saying that exploiting the foundationally exploitative system--It's like arguing for the morals of a Nazi to be more Nazi-like.
I never understand this point personally. If you're delivering value to the multiple companies you work for such that they like you, or at least don't fire you, then I don't see anything immoral in that. It's merely corporations who insist on people working for one and only one company at a time when in reality it shouldn't matter.
Completely agree. Do we insist that corporations only sell to a single customer? No that would be absurd. But insisting a person can only sell their labor to a single customer is seen as perfectly normal.
That's only true in that particular hypothetical. There are a lot of possible circumstances without such a clear conflict of interest.
Also, in the lawyer example, someone's freedom or livelihood is on the line. In the company example, it's a company's profits, which has a much less clear relationship to either of those two things, especially in today's world of 250:1 salary ratios.
Interestingly, for my current role at Salesforce as part of the employment contract it explicitly states I’m not allowed to work on anything else on the side unless I get explicit permission from their legal department. Including nonprofits, hobby projects, consulting, etc. I don’t know to the extent that anyone abides by that, but they drill at home pretty strongly when you start. The language is far above and beyond what most companies insist about not working on anything with a conflict of interest, and I’ve never seen it before at any company, large or small.
Then again, there’s a difference between something being illegal and it being against your employment contract. You’re not going to go to jail for having a secret second job, but you might get fired. But at least you’d have that second job…
I've only worked at tech companies, and mostly the kind that you want to work at. But basically every company I've worked at has some clause in the employment contract about outside activities. And typically having another full time job would violate the spirit, if not the letter of the employment contract.
That said, some contracting on the side is probably fine, as long as it's not at a competitor.
It's very common for employment contracts to explicitly forbid you from working on things during your employment that is not directly related to your employment. An expectation of "loyalty" is also often even included in labor law, even in very left leaning countries in Europe.
Maybe in the US it is not explicitly stated. My previous contract stated explicitly that I had to work from 9:00 to 18:48 five days a week, and do 1:00 of lunch between 11:00 and 15:00. Anything deviating from that would be accounted in the Bank of Hours and be subject to additional laws regard pay.
In France for instance, it is legal to have two (or more) jobs but they cannot be with competitors, you have a limit of hours you can work (which means that if your contract states 40 hours work then you cannot have another one), and you cannot have a clause in your contract which you usually do have (in the companies I know at least - tech oriented).
The issue is that this thread is suspicious, says 'a friend of a friend' so there's literally no way to verify this as being real. It got 20k likes on twitter so it might have just been a made-up tweet to garner a day of fame.
For what it's worth (sample size of 1 - me) - if you are at all competent and bad at setting boundaries, the dysfunction will absolutely frustrate the heck out of you.
Seeing what is broken, knowing that it can be fixed, and having even the slightest bit of motivation or knowledge of how to do so, and how it goes on forever and ever and doesn't get fixed becomes incredibly tiring.
I suppose, if you go into a dysfunctional company hoping to "coast", just be aware, if you are not good at managing boundaries and passing off the "frustration", it might be a lot worse than you realize.
Just imagine.. if you are spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, watching a slow motion wreck.. and powerless to do anything about it... sure, you get paid, but is it worth spending the time?
lol, well the slow motion trainwrecks are, in my experience, about a quarter of that. But it's still enough for a comfortable life, especially if you have a side hustle or you're self-teaching stuff that will help your resume.
This is great advice but if I could just add one thing, from experience, and that is, do treat the interview with dispassion. I have consistently found employers (esp in a dysfunctional organisation) often read dispassion as confidence and that is always a plus point.
+1 for this advice. In my experience skepticism and hesitation (within reason) are often highly regarded in these environments, and enthusiastic upstart types are seen as inexperienced / naive, even when that's not the case.
Well I'm not going to name specific companies, but you know those international calling cards that are sold basically everywhere in areas with a large migrant work force? Those cards tend to use these discount VOIP networks.
Vonage is supported by people like my parents, who for years have used the landline via Vonage for at most 2 phone calls per month that could have been done via a multitude of apps, yet refuse to heed my advice to cancel it.
You just described my job to a T. I'm a systems analyst at a university.
This was a big, demanding job when I first started. But after being here for 2 years, I've automated a lot of the complicated stuff. So now most routine tasks that took the other guy a week takes me about 15 minutes. To be fair though, the other guy was *really bad*. Like, couldn't even open IIS manager and restart a single website, bad.
The pay is not fantastic / FAANG, but it does offer a decent salary in a mid/low cost of living area. Combined with my wife's salary we make more than enough.
Also I get a free master's degree out of it. So that's awesome.
I think the take-away here, which I've also experienced, is to get an IT job in an industry that does not appreciate IT - find a position that seems to involve a TON of manual work - automate all of it - and DO NOT TELL anyone that you have automated those activities.
If you are working from home, you could conceivably do this for multiple jobs (in theory, ethical considerations aside).
> find a position that seems to involve a TON of manual work - automate all of it - and DO NOT TELL anyone
This reminds me the article "Now That's What I Call a Hacker" , where a guy left behind his automation scripts when switched companies, which revealed some extreme scripts, like:
> hangover.sh - another cron-job that is set to specific dates. Sends automated emails like "not feeling well/gonna work from home" etc. Adds a random "reason" from another predefined array of strings. Fires if there are no interactive sessions on the server at 8:45am.
I'm putting this article and what you just said together. Now I think it's reasonable to believe there are a lot of IT professionals doing this, they are just hidden, because there is no reason to share this kind of works experience, as it makes sense in the competitive side of the industry.
I almost created this myself some time ago, although not specifically for hangovers. I was envisioning a sort of dead man's switch, where if I didn't check in before a certain time it would send an SMS to my manager calling in sick.
The main reason I didn't, was that I figured I was more likely to forget to check in (and be forced to use a sick day when I didn't "need" one) than be incapable of waking up, making the call on if I was in a workable state, and sending the SMS by myself.
I know a UX/UI guy that worked for two big canadian banks at the same time. He was moving to Bank B, and did it for three months, just enough to lock in his annual bonus on Bank A. Oh, and he was praised in Bank A for his work in this period.
They are going to force everyone back into the office anyhow... upper management tends to place high on the narcissism spectrum... they need to see, feel, and experience their kingdom in person for maximum narcissistic supply.
Because $/resources are fungible, and your task isn't the only thing in the organization that needs resources.
Assuming you are on salary, if you can legitimately do something in half the time, great, you should then move on to doing something else that contributes to the company.
If you are on salary you are paid for your time and talent, not by the task.
The right thing for management to do would be to reward you for being efficient (doesn't just have to be simple monetary, people are motivated by all kinds of things), and then reallocate those resources that we saved to some other need.
This of course changes if you are on some kind of contract work.
Well... yes. But if the company suddenly becomes wildly more profitable because of work you’ve done will your salary grow in proportion? Of course not. I admire your work ethic, but you might want to consider just how asymmetric the employer/employee relationship is.
If you miss a deadline or delay the launch of a product does the company dock your base pay?
Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't optimize for your own goals. You do you, no judgement.
What I am saying is that running a successful company means optimizing for the company, not the individual. And the best run companies make sure that the incentives of their staff are closely aligned with the company.
If staff are functionally lying to their company about their output, something has gone wrong.
> If staff are functionally lying to their company about their output, something has gone wrong.
Problem is that productivity gains are extreme across most industries over the past fifty years, and except at the FAANG end of the income spectrum where people are making $300k+/year, those gains have been 100% absorbed by employers and not passed on to workers.
As such, employers are the ones to have broken the social contract. Yes, they're pushed to do this because they can, and there are no penalties to dissuade them from this behavior (specifically because employee organizations/unions have fallen out of favor, though that may seem to be reversing recently).
So it feels justified to provide a service to an employer for a fixed fee (a salary or weekly contract wage) in exchange for satisfactory work output, and to not work the hours the employer may assume you're working. It's a profoundly asymmetric relationship, and letting an employer believe you're working more hours for that work output--as long as they're happy with your work output!--is balanced by the fact that they're not paying you what you're worth to them.
The latter is clearly true if they're continuing to be happy with your work output and you're working half as many hours as they may believe you to be working. And yet they absolutely wouldn't double your salary if you doubled your work output.
It's not a counterpoint, both statements are true. Also, the post was in response to why do managers feel this way, not how do I feel personally.
The company pays you $$$ in exchange for your time and talent. That's the deal.
You don't have to take it. Seriously, in many cases you shouldn't take it. Life is short, optimize for being happy. I am the strongest supporter of that philosophy you will find.
But, if you can do your job in half the time and you are getting paid on the basis of time...you and the people who are paying you should reconsider the basis of that deal.
Hey, maybe you can get paid more and work less hours. Maybe you get a promotion to do something you find more interesting, or extra training opportunity, or a bonus, or even time off. But again, that should be negotiated within the confines of that original agreement between you and the company.
Once again, it's in both you and the companies best interest. Company shouldn't pay me to waste my time at the office, and I don't want to pretend to work. I'd rather spend that time outside, or with my family, or on a hobby, then try and hustle out some extra chill time.
The issue I have is when it's one sided. If the company knows that you are finishing your work in 2 hours, but they are paying you for 8, and they are ok with it, then again, it's part of the agreement and it's fine. There are lots of reasons that a company would be okay with this. Basically they have made the choice to pay you a much higher rate.
It's the hiding it part that I think is a grey area.
> The company pays you $$$ in exchange for your time and talent. That's the deal.
I'd disagree. They pay me for a specific amount and type of output, the same way they would for a new piece of machinery. It's not indentured servitude; they don't own me. If they just owned me, I wouldn't charge different rates for different things. A salary doesn't change that - a salary is just your assurance of my availability.
Generally when you are on salary, you get paid a set amount of money for some number of hours worked annually.
You don't get paid different rates for different work.
While it is possible to have a salary position with expected outputs (teach x classes a semester, launch 1 product per quarter, etc.) the better position descriptions will talk about responsibilities not metrics.
The point of being paid a salary vs per hour is that your entire time worked is abstract & non specific. It's also why salaried workers are usually exempt from overtime laws.
Our pay is also based on demand for our skills, based on the value it delivers, balanced with it's supply, which is why a software engineer is paid more than a McDonalds worker. If I could hypothetically produce the output of 100 google software engineers and I charged the price of 90 of them, any company would take me up for my offer and would be out competed by companies who didn't.
The fact that companies try to get the most for their money is just human nature and opportunistic. We don't need to actually go along with it, and nobody should feel guilty about doing the same with their employer too. If your a sales guy, you're considered a bad sales guy if you don't aggressively negotiate the best offer possible, engineers should not feel shy about doing the same too.
When you are on salary, you don't get paid to write code during all the time you are working. I can think about a problem for 6 hours and work 2 hours and fully deliver what the company expects from me.
If you're lucky you might get a few attaboys and a small bonus. Maybe a small promotion if really lucky.
The reality is career progression inside companies is unpredictable and underwhelming which is why people switch jobs so often.
Being an overachiever is great, but doing it for a thankless company is a waste of energy and resources.
So treat them the same way they treat you. Business only, no hard feelings, watch out for me and mine first. Act like they're disposable if they don't live up to your expectations - because that's how they will treat you.
Going back to the office might in fact make that situation worse. Now the person with time on their hands and low ambition isn't gonna suddenly get ambitious, but is gonna distract other people as well.
I did 3 software jobs at the same time for a period of a month. But I was actually working full/part/part so it was kinda back breaking - but I was being paid as a consultant so I was actively working hard..
Ill echo this, (am also a SA at a mid-size US university) I am completely content with how slow my job moves. We have real, actual deadlines a few times a year. The bare minimum earns you praise, I think Ive done a month's worth of work since last march which has been wonderful for my physical health. Nearly every 4-year offers unconditional tuition remission. You will be underpaid. Id stay in this position forever if I didnt happen to dislike the location as much as I do.
I ran a small infosec shop for ~15 years and worked in many industries along the way. An IT job at a university was the first thing that came to mind. Not necessarily because the job is easy, because that's not always the case, but because the environments that I've been involved with at least are really chill and you stay in touch with young folks.
Some University positions can be notoriously cushy. I know a few networking folks who have been in their position at the University for a solid 25 years. Kind of unheard of in the enterprise-sector for the same position.
But the benefits are usually top notch (e.g. healthcare). If the position comes with a generous defined-benefits government pension, it can actually end up being more lucrative than working in the private sector.
It's interesting to look at this in the context of ballooning tuition costs. Could it be that part of the problem is that university staff positions attract a high proportion of unmotivated time-servers? How is this possible at the same time that instructional staff are being squeezed so hard?
How is this possible at the same time that instructional staff are being squeezed so hard?
If I had to guess, supply and demand. There is a massive surplus of PhD’s looking for any job whatsoever in academia. Meanwhile, the demand for university IT jobs is probably low given that many other jobs in tech will pay more.
The problem is the exact opposite. The unmotivated time servers fill unnecessary positions created by the ambitious climbers. Doing a better job would likely make the problem worse as the bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.
My buddy worked IT infrastructure at a major public university and would work 3 days a week but spread out his deployments for the write-ups that were used to evaluate his performance. The pay wasn't great so he left, but it was a great gig for a while.
I love this question for its honesty. Frankly if I had a job I just needed technical competence on without much thought, I'd probably hire you. Our 1-on-1's would be brief and probably just be you demoing whatever hobby it is you alluded to. As long as you can crank out some decent code, I don't see a reason why a person who needs some quality work done shouldn't at least give your desired arrangement a chance.
Unfortunately right now I do need product focused engineers, but in this case you wouldn't want to work for me anyways :-)
This is also a great thought exercise, what jobs would be good for you? Thinking on it a bit, I think the following could work:
1. Scrum team member at an all remote company on one of their lesser products. If you work fast then you can probably do it in a few hours each day.
2. Maybe a small consultancy where you work on a contractual basis just completing tickets?
3. Government. A small city council style place where you specify you need remote work and then probably the workload is minimal? I don't like the idea of being a burden on a government when there are perfectly dysfunctional companies you can find this with, it feels somewhat undemocratic, but in a pinch this might do?
4. A niche field? Maybe take up COBOL? Then you can specify the hours you work and if the patches are minimal you can fly through them?
Ultimately the thing that might get you to this arrangement fastest is being really good at your job, so you can fly though the work. So perhaps doubling down on one field and becoming a domain expert is the path to this arrangement?
These are all speculations, and hopefully they help you on your path to your desired role. Good luck!
I came here to respond to your #1 and tell you I worked in that position, and you are 100% spot-on. I chose to do more and grow/learn, and obviously there were times when you had full weeks and overtime, but by and large, I’d say 50% of people on my team were phoning it in and only putting in 2-3 hours per day. The rest was team meetings, corporate meetings, lunch hour, miscellaneous slack chatter, etc
Thanks for the ideas ! 4. is probably what I'll end up doing, the niche field being some sort of devops / sysadmin job.
While reading the impressive amount of responses this thread got I realized I do enjoy helping other developers and generally keeping stuff working. I still end up spending nights tinkering with my .vimrc, it's not like I can't watch a computer anymore without puking.
I may be naive but why would you hire someone who repeatedly says "I don't care". I have no problem hiring someone who just wants to get their shit done and get the f out and if that means, they only work 2 hours, so be it as long as expectations are clear BUT they still have to care when they are working those 2 hours. May be I am too simplistic but when someone tells me "I don't care", I generally won't hire them regardless of whether they are product focussed or not.
There's different things to "not care" about. It sounds like you're thinking "I don't care" means they don't care about the quality of their work output, which I agree is not good.
But the original question I think is saying "I don't care about the big picture, the product's 'strategic goals'". Which in my opinion is totally reasonable. If you hire a stonemason to build a wall in your garden, you don't expect (or even want) them to give a toss about your designs for the herb beds.
Of course there's a difference between full time employment and a one-off craft job. But why does a programmer need to care about the product as a whole? The product people certainly don't care about the quality of the source code itself (just the results it gives).
Because if the company sucks, which most companies do, then probably almost no-one there actually cares except people who have a larger-than-salary financial investment in the company, people who have been there long enough that the company is part of their identity and social group, and people who drank the kool-aid of company propaganda. People who do not fall into a group such as one of the above but who nonetheless tell you that they care are quite likely just lying to you. The person who says that he doesn't care is at least being honest.
A start would be to ignore a lot of things said about tech on HN. It is a solid source of pain, suffering and time wasting (I like it, but that's another story).
Forget about all this modern tech stuff no-one is asking for. You can work for companies / clients who need stuff automated; they don't care about k8s, jamstack, react, docker, service mesh, etc etc. You can hack shit together with php + mysql, put in on a vps and you'll be treated like a sorcerer.
Find small companies (I know a bunch in the EU, which is a good region anyway as you have a safety net if you lose your job and many places have 36 hour or less weeks) that are not IT companies but factories or something non-software with a small team that are working on internal software for the last 10 years. You will get tasks to fix/add on stuff, no-one will be in a hurry (factory runs fine without it, it just makes things better or gears up for a tax rule change or whatever).
I would be careful to not get depressed by this kind of work (I nearly did), but it's not hard to find (not here anyway) if you are at least a bit social and can write code so you can get through the interview. These companies don't give you whiteboard interviews or actually any more than just a friendly chat.
Medium sized law firms (25+ attorneys) are a good place to look. They have a lot of internal business processes that can be wrangled with some fairly simple apps. Not a single person in the whole firm knows anything about computers. Profit margins are fat. If you automate a couple things the managing partner thinks are a PITA, you'll be treated like a god. Also law firms seems especially fearful of tech talent leaving, so I don't even really think you have to worry about a paycut.
This is great advice. I have several friends who are lawyers, and they are just utter and completely non-technical. If you can find a place like this that allows you to work from home, it would be a great job for someone like OP's profile.
After doing this professionally for 20 years I've found that clients don't care what language, framework, hosting provider, etc you use to solve their problems. They don't care about your code quality, they don't care about your CI pipeline or any of that shit. They care if you have solved their problem for them, and that's it.
I personally found it very stressful but maybe not everyone would. Customers can be a PITA. There's always the guy who wants to question you on the finer details of the technology being used because he knows he could do better, and he's a passive aggressive asshole.
Nice to know this stuff is out there. I really do wonder how long I'll be able to handle the exhausting pace of US tech before I want to settle down and have kids in a society with a better social safety net and maybe a more sustainable approach to living.
I think it's probably fairly random. I.e. you're just as likely to have a "do nothing" job in a FAANG as in some other random corps. But I don't think you can start doing nothing right after being hired - usually people are hired because there's more work in a team that the existing headcount can handle. So, you have to work for some time and then count on "falling into the cracks" - landing in a place where there's less work than people capable of doing it.
BTW I recommend against startups (pre big funding). In startups, the owners watch costs like hawks and there's zero chance of slacking off.
BTW2: if you're good with people, I recommend a Scrum master role. From my observations over the years, these folks have almost zero workload and absolutely zero responsibility for anything. It's slacker's paradise - you just have to be comfortable with babbling on meetings/calls for the majority of the day.
Anything *agile related bullshit job will do, really.
Scrum master, agile coach, what have you. SM certs are easy to get with minimal investment. A meeting here, some buzzwords there and compile the results regularly in lengthy confluence pages nobody will ever read. Automate much of it and maybe generate a graph or two to present during reviews.
OP will have to organise retros, groomings, etc. Invent ever changing formats. Remind everybody to stick to the rulez, but don't do much else. Keeps people on their toes. At minimal effort.
Have regular catch-ups with various people. They're essentially coffee breaks, but you pretend to be productive and maybe generate a protocol. Plus you get to suck up to all the important people.
Bonus points for regularly posting obnoxious agile methodology articles on your companies intranet or Linkedin.
> Bonus points for regularly posting obnoxious agile methodology articles on your companies intranet or Linkedin.
To truely leave a legacy, it would be great, if you could also miss what the original intentions and benefits of agile are and go on to raise a few teamleads and middle managers to use your buzzwords in the wrong context.
A true master craftsman in this area makes the right people feel more, but the whole organization be less agile. Your work is not completed, until developers visit threads like this to step into your footsteps.
> A meeting here, some buzzwords there and compile the results regularly in lengthy confluence pages nobody will ever read.
Uhm, no. I've been a scrum master. Your calendar looks like a lost game of Tetris, everybody above you is wondering why everything is late, everyone below you is wondering why they don't get more time. It's the anti-thesis of a cushy job.
This is pretty spot-on. I didn't get a lot of face time with stakeholders as an individual on a scrum team until our project manager was fired, and I said "f** it, I'll be the product owner AND scrum master".
I basically dumped our Atlassian suite, set up our Azure DevOps, including our project's processes, boards, and rules. I automated most of our meetings to run asynchronously because we're a remote team.
- The team loves me more than anyone on the team because I don't force arbitrary bullshit on them like holding them to extremely rigid scrum standards meant to create and highlight artificial scarcities of work.
- Stakeholders (the ones that will recommend me for promotions) know my name and I get to shoot the shit with them in our weekly touchpoints while I show them the metrics that only matter for my team.
The easiest jobs are typically the mid-tier levels inside a company undergoing a "digital transformation" (unless your new boss would be from Amazon). These companies are rife with dysfunction and boomers that barely understand how to effectively leverage the Microsoft 365 platform. Cue automating everything, blowing the pants off of older folks like your mom when you fixed her iPad, and basically skating by while making good money (not FAANG great) money.
I agree with the Scrum Master suggestion, my Scrum Master pretty much just creates meeting invites for 40 hours a week. We have a lot of contracts where we have Scrum Masters just because we do Agile, usually the non-technical types do it.
The irony is that Scrum Masters are supposed to not make the team reliant on them but by having a dedicated role for it of course the dev team will make the Scrum Master do menial tasks, if you don't might dealing with the Agile bullshit full time it's a doss.
I think they get a bad rap. Good scrum masters are worth their weight in gold at scale. The solve all inter-team comms, the bat away distractions, and they generally find the answers, or the people with the answers and get them solved and batted out.
Bad scrum masters take up space with reporting meetings that aren't reporting - but who are we kidding. I've been privileged to work with both.
Anecdote -- in the last 15 years I've had exactly one unicorn. They do exist, but they are very rare. And worth their weight in gold, I was really sad to lose ours in a layoff. Scrum masters, project managers, and marketing folks all seemed to be first out the door when money got tight
I thought the same of Project Managers, until I had the pleasure with work with the MissionCloud people in a project that included a Project Manager (in their side). I was amazed at her project management skills, and I really wished I could have her in my team.
Another vote for Scrum Master here. It's only in the past 5 years or so that I've personally seen it as a job in itself - previously, I'd seen Scrum Master as part of the role of one of the developers or similar.
But now in large corps, Scrum Master exists as a distinct job, which appears to require doing very, very little - chairing most of the regular scrum-related meetings (daily standup, planning, demo, and the much loathed retrospective), sending out meeting invites, occasionally futiley butting heads with the Project Manager, and... actually, I think that's it?!
I've worked with some good people in the Scrum Master role, but beyond being good people to work with, they are glorified secretaries, and really don't have anything to do all day.
Why on earth would you have a Scrum Master AND a Project Manager? Makes sense to have a dedicated less-technical person to manage schedules, coordinate with clients and keep people honest on commitments... but dear god why would you ever start splitting that role up into multiple people
If you are actually a good developer and you get a pure Scrum Master role then it's almost impossible to not get endlessly promoted and praised and possibly paid better than a developer role itself whilst actually still doing fuck all work. Imagine, you do a standup, ask in the end if anyone has any blockers, some developer or QA will say something stupid about the CI/CD pipeline or merging a PR and you'll schedule a meeting with the people who need to follow this up and you could actually throw in some suggestions which only a great developer would normally do and the team will look at you as if you're some bloody hero for DeNiro and praise you as "the best Scrum Master they ever had who actually helps the team and lives up to their role". LOL. Then you know you can go to sleep for the rest of the day and nobody will even notice.
The only other thing I can come up with which could be easier than Scrum Master is to apply for a manual QA role. I don't think I have to say more, but essentially, you will look like you've worked around the clock when really you just click a button at the beginning of the day and then go to sleep again.
> The only other thing I can come up with which could be easier than Scrum Master is to apply for a manual QA role. I don't think I have to say more, but essentially, you will look like you've worked around the clock when really you just click a button at the beginning of the day and then go to sleep again.
Laughed out loud at this hahaha. There is one dedicated manual QA guy in my team that perfectly fits this description. And he probably earns more than I do.
As many of the stories here show, it’s usually easier to grow into a do nothing job. Build rapport for a few years and take on responsibilities that can be automated but don’t tell you automated them. And slip into the legacy projects no one knows or cares about to look at but that need a little maintenance here and there. They tend to build up where you can easily own multiple products that still have to run but don't really need more than a few hours of work per month at most. Just don't document anything about them or refactor them to be easier to look at lol
Agreed on scrum masters. I’d rather go hungry than be on calls all day though
I don't know about putting in the least amount of effort for 5 days a week. But what I do know is that in my country, the Netherlands, part-time work is more and more becoming the standard. Already, 75% of women and 30% of men work 32 hours a week or less. In many sectors the fulltime standard has been lowered to 36 hours, which means every other Friday off.
I myself started on 40 and will move to 32 hours somewhere next year. It's your right by law to reduce your hours for the same pay/hour.
So my advice would be to look for remote only dev jobs in the Netherlands, and just ask to work 24h or 32h a week. It's very common here and won't be a roadblock.
Although this is going to entirely depend on how much money you actually need to get by.
Majority of my team works 4 days/week, but do so by working 4x9 hours (36 total) instead of 5x8 hours (40 total). We don't really do less work (or take longer for projects).
* The folks working 4 days are a bit less likely to pick-up 'side activities' (e.g. help organise an external event, lead some of the recruiting efforts, etc.), because a day away takes out 25% of active time in one go.
* Ratio overhead vs work is probably better for the part of the team working 4x9 vs 5x8. It turns out they can miss many of these meetings and still be fine without additional catch-ups. (unfortunately not in my power to just remove it completely)
* I believe in people having broad responsibilities ("deliver this project in the best way you see fit") rather than "work X hours". We don't downscope projects because someone works 4 vs 5 days, but no one has ever remarked on it either. This type of responsibility sometimes means people wrap-up early, sometimes they feel responsible enough to pick something really important up in the evening/weekend and take a few hours off on another day.
* I think the ~10% difference wouldn't be measurable for software (or AI in our case) development anyway, we're not a call center where you can measure 'minutes called'.
* This is my European/Dutch perspective. I understand this trend is stronger in the nordics/Germany/Netherlands than in the southern countries. Having managed a team in the US in the past, I find it hard to imagine how this would work in the US culture I experienced.
That’s fair, 4x9 is indeed more the standard these days.
On real part-time: I think once it moves below 3 days a week it works better for transactional roles. E.g. I know dentists that work for a few days per week in a practice, people with 8-16h per week in chat-support, 3-day/wk secretaries, etc.
Most of these roles measure their work in calls/appointments/hours rather than longer running projects though.
But with the right culture it can be done in IT as well, I think Gumroad is a good example.
I work in the UK as a remote architect for a megacorp, working a 4-day week, 7.5h per day Mon-Thu. I work on projects all across Europe and Scandinavian. I moved to a 4-day week a long time back - something like 7 years, I guess.
Honestly, I get as much done in 4 days as I did in 5 - I really think it's a sweet spot, where you are forced to focus more for a shorter time.
Anyways, in terms of team working, obviously some meetings need to be either held without me, or not held on Fridays. Otherwise, it's simply never been an issue.
I've worked before with developers who work similar hours, and again it's never been a problem - we just adjust our sprint capacity/staffing accordingly.
If you're in the UK or Europe (AFAIK, this applies to Europe too), by law, any company has to seriously consider requests for flexible working (e.g. part-time hours). I simply asked, and they said "yeah, OK". Obviously working 20% less hours means 20% less pay and holidays.
I work for an out-sourcing and consulting mega-corp - I get to work on interesting projects, but and honestly, it's a horrible company to work for in terms of culture, power struggles, biases, bureaucracy and lay-offs. I plan on getting out soon, going full-time on my side business. As such, I'd never recommend them to anyone.
Yes, responsibilities will be adjusted accordingly. On-Call depends a bit on your sector and what the unions agreed. Most of the time one hour on call will count for 0.25 hour worked I think, at least that's how it was for someone I knew.
And most people simply put their days / hours in their e-mail signature so other colleagues know when to expect a reaction. From personal experience this works fine. Half my team is off every Friday and some also on Wednesdays.
Companies can and do require 36 or 40 hours though, but most of the time vacancies will list something like "24-36" to signal the possibilities.
I've been working 4d/week for 4 years for a small Belgian company. I'm a software engineer.
I've never got any complain from my manager, employer or colleagues about it.
I'm usually taking my day off on Friday. All my colleagues know it, so we will try to schedule meetings for which I'm required on other days. If that's not possible (it only happens a few times per year), I'm flexible enough to take my time off some other day.
I might be 90% as productive compared to when I was when working full-time. This difference is probably too low to be noticeable by anybody else in the team.
My gross got reduced by 20%. But considering the way taxation works in Belgium, I'm only getting about 10% less on my bank account. I also got promoted to a senior role since then, which entirely offset the difference anyway.
While it has been working extremely well for me (I spent the additional free time doing physical activities and launching my personal project ), it might be harder/impossible to get into higher positions (team leader, project manager...) while working part-time.
I like this. Deadlines are set by humans and inherently flawed. It isn't right to go into crunch mode when a deadline isn't met - instead how the deadline was set and how it can be improved should be revisited.
Have you heard of Texas? Almost the worst state in the union for workers. This is a right-to-work or at-will employment state. This means employers can, and often do, treat workers like slaves with little oversight. Texas law says an employer can fire a worker without "cause or condition". They could fire anyone for almost anything and they do. This state is absolutely hostile to unions, worker rights, and higher pay. The only reason I can avoid much of this is because I work for a not-for-profit and we treat each other with respect. I'm blessed in this regard. I'm negotiating with my wife to move to the PNW at some point. I hate the politics, weather, and redneck outlook here with a raging passion.
At lot of states are at-will, including Washington and Oregon. So if you think at-will employment produces slavery like working conditions (which seems rather overstated), moving the the Pacific Northwest isn't going to help much.
Also, when I was considering moving to the Seattle area, I got the feeling that non-compete clauses were fairly standard, although, that is entirely subjective and might be incorrect.
Thank you for the info. The chances are high that if/when we move, I will be leaving IT after 20 years, so the non-compete angle will not apply. I may still do some consulting on SaaS/PaaS and small automation tasks to help if I can, but I've long desired to get out of IT. The grind is starting to take its toll on me and I want to take on new adventures in things I like to do on the side like crafts and similar. With my daughter off doing her thing, I'll have spare money to set up shop and do other things. My wife wants to work until she cannot stand up, which is just like her dad.
I worked in Texas for a stint, and completely understand what you describe here. However, don't look to the PNW as a place it's any better.
Both Oregon and Washington are at-will states, and have the same laws with the same kind of work cultures -- you're a cog in a system, and if you start grinding or upsetting the status quo in some way, the candidate pool in this region is strong enough, they'll replace you. However, the expectation still remains that when you choose to exercise your same rights under at-will that you give two weeks notice. Can't say any employer is going to give an employee that same courtesy when letting them go. Not to mention if you're salaried, you might as well accept that your role is nothing more than indentured servitude branded as capitalism (to clarify, this may not be at all companies, but definitely is a strong cultural trait I've seen at the ones I've worked at).
All that being said, the PNW is much prettier than many areas of Texas, and while natives are hostile towards transplants, the quality of life is leaps and bounds better than that horrendous mass of land called the Lone Star State.
Thank you for the information. I am looking at smaller cities rather than Seattle or Portland. I don't care for major conurbations. My wife can work anywhere with her job and I'm starting to edge out of IT myself after 20 years for something a little less stressful like woodworking or arts/crafts. I'm handy with these things and I need to pursue this angle while I'm young enough to do so and still make money.
Try being a product manager of a web service at a big corporation. I stopped and went back to programming because of how little there was to do. You said you don't want to manage people, but in my experience all I had to do was:
- E-mail calendar invites for a meeting
- Show up to said meeting
- State the topic, point to an engineer at random and say, "What do you think?"
- Zone out for the rest of the meeting, zoning back in only if it sounds like the conversation is starting to get off track
- 5 minutes before time is up, say, "OK, it sounds like we're agreed that we're going to do X?"
- Go back to coding side-projects
It's a funny job, because even though it's very easy to coast, it's also fairly high-visibility and in my opinion very necessary. Without a dedicated person to spend 30 minutes a day watching over meetings, things seem to very quickly go off the rails.
Eh, it's just people being people. It's similar to how when you're learning first aid, they always tell you to not say "Someone call 911!" but rather point at one specific person and say, "You, [distinguishing characteristic of said person], call 911!"
I can respect this opinion and as I get older I realize how little I actually care about work. I am not really passionate about tech, security, etc, I just know a lot about it. I basically never talk about it with anyone, I have absolutely no interest in meetups, and I don't care about the news (past the minimum needed to keep up to date for my job)
The only thing I care about is money, and making more money. I don't care about your company mission, I don't care about D&I initiatives, I don't care about culture, just money. I will do an excellent job, better than anyone else, if you pay me well. Even though I don't have any passion for the work, I still do an amazing job because I know it will directly lead to more money.
I don't think its a big deal to want to skate by as long as you actually get work done. Just find an SE job in a company that doesn't harp about its culture.
IME the more they talk about D&I, the more annoying the company will be about brainwashing everyone to drink the corporate koolaid.
Stay far away from any SaaS companies as they usually want devs to do support or be on call for their shitass app. I don't know what skills you have but most lower-level programming is much easier in terms of not dealing with BS. Anything involving JS nonsense (frontend or backend) will involve a lot of product and people.
Some related advice: some management actually LIKEs folks that are primarily money motivated. It makes the picture much simpler for them compared to others who are motivated by vaguer things like “interesting problems”, “career progression” etc
At one job during goal setting with my manager I put it like “I wanna be making $x by next year. Let me know what I need to do to get there, and if that’s too much, how close can we come, and what’s needed for THAT”
Later on he’d tell others how impressed he was by that and how the clarity made life for him easy
I'm one who mostly cares about money. It's funny that you say "career progression" as something separate from being motivated by money. I care a lot about career progression because it means more money.
If I could continue getting a 10-15% raise every year, I wouldn't care if I never got promoted. Call me "Junior Engineer" for my entire career idc.
Yea I just finished with a "training" about D&I. I just don't get it. Those people who didn't care still won't care but they will be pissed too. It won't have an effect on those who cared.
At this point I think it is a necessity for most companies to do this shit though. I've heard stories about investors pulling their support because the company wasn't "diverse" enough. They are trying to force a solution for this Catch 22 and it isn't helping: you don't get more women into IT until IT becomes friendly for them. IT won't become friendly until there are more women in IT. (substitute women for whatever PC term you want to use)
> IME the more they talk about D&I, the more annoying the company will be about brainwashing everyone to drink the corporate koolaid.
Expect this to only ramp up given how diverse and queer Gen Z is. What passes for diversity among the Gen X / Boomer bosses isn’t good enough, and they have enough options that D&I has quickly become a competitive advantage. Every client I have is going in hard on DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) as a result — you just can’t hire the best young talent otherwise.
This is the downside of Citizens United for corporations — by creating an outsized role for corporations in a democracy, corporations are implicitly expected to reflect the ideals of their employees rather than shareholders. This limits their agility and has strained relationships with employees who are now working to organize / unionize to achieve their goals. If this isn’t a role employers want to play, they are free to lobby for a law to protect them from themselves; otherwise the battle lines (and collateral damage) over any labor vs capital dispute will be drawn wholly within the company.
This is a real shame. I wish we could do something to stop this insanity. Their dogmatic approach to D&I is really scary honestly.
On top of that, you are marked if you are a "cis white male". It doesn't matter if you are an immigrant. It doesn't matter if you are jewish (less than 0.003% of the global population, so one of most minority minorities), doesn't matter if you have a rich ethnic background with white skin. Why can't people just get rid of the racists and sexists without going crazy?
Because that’s not what it’s about; it’s about having a diverse leadership that more closely resembles the makeup of our nation and communities. Cis white men make up only about 30% of our population but account for probably 80% (and that’s being generous) of positions above middle management. It’s the cultural homogeneity that’s the business problem, and that doesn’t get solved without the right optics. Most of these jobs are not so hard that a person who is appropriately trained / supported couldn’t do them.
Again, gen Z is the most diverse generation in history. If you want to hire talent over the next decade, your company’s leadership needs to resemble your prospective employees because they take it as a hiring signal.
The problem isn’t cis white men; it’s the sense of entitlement that cis white men often walk around with. I have plenty of coworkers who are white men and great allies because they recognize that others are not entitled to the same things based on pretty arbitrary criteria. But the entitlement (“you’re gonna take the job I’ve been working towards for years and give it to a new ‘diversity’ hire!?”) is the problem, especially in the upper ranks.
But as it's been said many times, corporations aren't democracies. (And regardless of moral value, they never will be.) The expectation that your leadership should look like you is fraught and misunderstands the whole idea of a corporation. We don't hire according to population makeup, we hire according to an arbitrary set of metrics that roughly correlate with drive to create value.
The expectation is societal by their participation in the political process; because the voice of the population carries far less weight than that of a large corporation, there will be strong internal pressure for the company to take a political stance on an issue.
The corporations opened this Pandora’s box; if they want the workplace to be apolitical again they need to work with Congress to muzzle themselves and stay out of politics altogether.
(Also those “arbitrary metrics” now largely include diversity metrics because they do actually increase profitability in the long run.)
Jewish people are significantly overrepresented in positions of power relative to their population size. Should companies treat this is a cultural homogeneity problem and try to make it so that Jewish people are represented more closely in line to their actual numbers?
Or how about Asian-Americans in tech? Asian-Americans are only a tiny fraction of Americans but make up a substantial part of the tech industry. Is that a cultural homogeneity problem that companies should try to solve by working to increase the representation of people who are not Asian-American?
Uh, yes actually. To both. That said, this situation almost never happens beyond an individual contributor level — where diversity is already less of a problem because diverse candidates hit a glass ceiling and move no further.
> But the entitlement (“you’re gonna take the job I’ve been working towards for years and give it to a new ‘diversity’ hire!?”) is the problem, especially in the upper ranks.
Thank you for pointing out this exact mindset. As a cis white man myself, if I was up against someone else for the same position and we were equally matched in all ways except the other individual was in the minority when compared against the overall make-up of the position's peers, then I would fully expect the company to pick the other individual over me. Diversity is valuable because different life experiences which provide a different perspective are valuable. Additionally, a company is far more likely to attract top talent from diverse pools if you have diversity in your company. (I just realized you said this in your original post! "If you want to hire talent over the next decade, your company’s leadership needs to resemble your prospective employees because they take it as a hiring signal.")
> except the other individual was in the minority when compared against the overall make-up of the position's peers
Problem: that's everyone. No one brings your unique viewpoint of life. Just because two people look the same doesn't mean a lick about their life experiences or who they are on the inside. Everyone at your company, wherever you are, is fundamentally a completely different person from you. If you want real variety, the way to do that is by interviewing people, not by looking at them.
This is reductionist to the point of being insulting. The problem is that when you interview people, the way you look has an impact on how the interviewer perceives and is able to communicate with you (implicit bias).
The flip side is that when you have a little difficulty finding common ground with a person, it challenges you to find a way to relate. Which means listening to their experiences. Which generally makes for better products. But what it means is that the interviewer often judges the wrong criteria, and most interviews are about how well you are able to communicate to your interviewer (and not the other way around).
When people talk about “intersectionality” this is what they mean. You can be privileged in one way but disadvantaged in another. Some intersectionalities are visible, and some are not. The more dissimilarity in your experiences, the more problems you will have communicating. Working through those problems and learning from one another is an invaluable part of the process — if you can make it through the interview in the first place.
> The problem is that when you interview people, the way you look has an impact on how the interviewer perceives and is able to communicate with you (implicit bias).
I have to disagree with your core point. If that were the real problem, blind orchestra auditions would be held up as the gold standard for hiring practices. As it is, people want it torn down. 
Though I agree with the aspect of working harder to empathize being good for business. Again, that’s what the interview is for. If you want diversity, add a behavioral segment to your interview loop and use it as an opportunity to actually understand the person.
Who says it makes for better products? what is this statement rely on? Is nintendo gameboy a bad product? Is hiphop a bad product? is google search a bad product? Because they were all developed by a pretty homogenous group of people.
And if intersectionality means you are priviliged in one way and disadvantaged in another way then why do we need intersectionality? Isn't it just the inherent state of any individual on this planet? What is the need to put this individual into some arbitrary categories of race or gender or whatever else that in fashion among the D&I crowd? Just assume each person has their own circumstances which you probably know nothing about rather than assuming some priviliges based on skin colour or whatnot.
No one has the experiences required to have the perspective of another person; that would require having lived two lives. Everyone has exactly one perspective, and because no one lives the exact same life, that perspective is unique.
There’s some kind of belief going around that there are some kinds of people who understand some things in a way no one else can understand. This is tantamount to the “God works in mysterious ways” argument - because we can’t come up with a real dimension to make a claim about, we say there is something magically unique about being poor, or being asexual, or any number of things. Sorry to say, but I don’t believe in magic. There are a few dimensions poor people are more optimized along, for example, maybe grit and resiliency, and there are rough correlations along the racial boundaries as well. But until you actually talk to a person, you’ll have no idea who they are.
That’s not something I agree with at all. What was said was
> in the minority when compared against the overall make-up of the position's peers
What I am saying is that a company is using skin color or sexual orientation as the basis for knowing this is doing it wrong. Yes, I believe being different from your peers makes you a better hire. But that’s what you gain from the interview, not what is gained from the observation of someone’s appearance (diversity scorecard).
Honestly, I think this is somewhat of a crapshoot/hard to tell from the job description and the reason I say this is the job I'm currently in functions exactly how you describe but the job description/everything else from the outside gave me no clue before I actually started the job.
"Ideally being done in 2 hours in the morning then chilling would be perfect" -- in fact, for me, often it's 2 hours on a Monday morning the first day of the sprint, then just being present on Slack for the rest of the two week sprint. I wait and submit PRs etc at the end of the sprint.
My previous jobs in tech absolutely did not function like this, so I was somewhat surprised when I fell into my current position/groove. My coworkers/managers seem to think the amount of work I get done every sprint is actually above average, even though it rarely takes me more time than six hours max every two weeks. I mostly work on backend stuff (85%/15%) and am in a senior position at a relatively large (non Silicon-Valley though still very tech savvy) company with tens of thousands of employees and billions in revenue, though based on the East Coast. My salary isn't bonkers but I'm comfortably in the 150-200k range before bonus.
There was no way for me to know, going into the job, based on the job description, interviews with team members, etc, that the expectations of my managers and co-workers would be so low. And honestly, I'm still confused. I'm not a genius software engineer, I'm maybe above average but still not anything special. My coworkers aren't lazy or bad either - they're all sharp, proactive people. All of this is to say, what you're looking for does exist, it's my job, but I haven't the slightest idea how I would've been able to tell this is that type of job before actually doing it, so alas I can't help you very much, though I am willing to answer questions if you may have any.
No crap, that's significantly more than I'm making and I work 50 hours most week plus have a requirement to maintain certifications and write cookbooks and/or blog posts after hours. It's a bonkers salary if one actually works.
I wonder if the OP's company needs any data engineers.
NYC is a step-function of higher COL than just about anywhere else on the East Coast. Even compared Boston or DC. Taxes alone are high, around 6% total for New York State. Want to live in New York City? Great, that's an additional 3%. OK, so you don't want to live in New York City to avoid that 3%? Now you're looking at $600/month for your commute costs to spend 3 hours a day commuting.
Yes I have seen same productivity patterns. In one company I applied, the most senior developer's average skills were less than my junior skills.
I can say I have junior skills but better productivity. Most of the times I had under-performed to save my ass from undeserving workload.
This sounds like a job a friend has in city government (in the midwest US). They have to look busy but in the end it sounds like they really don’t do a whole lot (he’s the manager and knows they don’t have much to do but has to maintain head count).
To be clear: I'm definitely not claiming to be a 10x, 40x or 100x developer. I'm not claiming I could do the same amount of work as you or anyone else any faster than you or anyone else could.
It's more like my managers and product management radically overestimate the amount of time things take. Those are the people choosing how much work they think I should be able to accomplish each sprint and I don't do anything to dissuade them from the idea that that seems about right to me as well. I'm frequently praised by my manager and kidded by my colleagues about how "fast" I've managed to knock out my stories even when only working a few hours the first day of the sprint and submitting my PRs the day before or of the sprint ending. Those same managers/product managers work with many other engineers at my company so I don't know if everyone at my company is underachieving stealthily or what. As I said in my original post, I'm honestly as really, really confused as anyone else about what's going on, but since I'm praised in performance reviews, given a decent bonus, been 2x chosen for quarterly awards and promoted internally, etc, I mean, what should I do ? Demand more work ? Yeah, no thanks.
Fair enough. I guess in your place I would just be very interested in knowing how I performed compared to other people working in the field, but I can't blame you for not wanting to mess with a good thing either.
I haven't done leetcode type exercises in years but even then I never found them too difficult, so hard to use that as a gauge, but yeah, most of my work is implementing new products and features via somewhat fairly standard CRUD-y microservices in the cloud.
Consider: you may become depressed, unfulfilled, and unhappy in this life. I had a position that was around halfway to what you want, government database coding, and I was miserable. I think becoming fully "chilled out" is ideal, because being "half chilled" and half "in-the-hotseat" gave me whiplash a few times. I developed lazy habits over time, my work output suffered, and all that free-time on my hobby wasn't as great as I envisioned.
You know the story, it's Christmas, you're the only one in the office this week because you're new and your PTO is garbage, you're young and have no family to go back to anyway. You stroll in an hour late through the side door, check emails briefly, okay no one is here, then you fire up the YT clips or the novel reading or whatever it is. By 3pm, after 5 hours of pure faffing around, you surely deserve the christmas cookies left in the break room. By 315, you're pooped, time to head home, sneak back through the side door, and you're off to use the screen at the apartment.
Is there some nagging feeling in your stomach? That you could've explored the database, you could've dived into that long-term project you've thought of. You could've been writing up a research proposal, searching for new grants, or helping someone at a volunteer organization. Instead, you're "half on" so you're half-assing your life, not fully relaxing, not working at all.
Honestly, it wasn't for me. I want to feel fully into what I'm doing, and having to half-ass my way through a boring job was causing serious depression. I'd only recommend this if you can use less of your ass, preferably remotely, and if you're sure you won't have a crisis of meaning in life.
When I was in high visibility roles in start-ups, I dreamt of a place where I could fall through the cracks and kind of breathe -- or at least what I thought would be breathing. I found that spot, and after a couple years feel like taking the offer was a monumental mistake in my career. Nothing is a challenge, my output is minimal yet when I actually do produce something, I get massive praise, and yearn for somewhere that I can throw myself into interesting work.
I think that next phase is coming, but I've definitely stagnated a bit and wish I'd spent more time using the required seat time (have to be visibly online 9+ hours a day) doing something fruitful instead of wasting time on HN and occasionally toying with various project ideas.
The soul crush is real in this kind of position, and as OP said, always being "half on" emphasizes the mental toll that all of my output has suffered both personally and professionally. Or I might just be burnt out.
I think this soul crush only occurs if you take the stance that it's an issue. I.e., if you suddenly want to find fulfillment and meaning in work, sure, you'll feed bad.
I submit that you can counter this by using that free time to do things that interest yourself and help you progress in the areas you want to grow in.
I have a lot of free time as a designer maintaining an enterprise product, so I flex my downtime into acting as my team's de facto product manager. When I step back from this interest of mine, I can otherwise use the time to teach myself VR (not related at all to my company).
My biggest piece of advice to people is to not look for fulfillment in work, but rather to find fulfillment in your interests. The burnout happens when your interests don't align with a highly demanding job. The soul crush happens when you suddenly try to tie all of your interests back to your job. That'll never be feasible 99.99% of the time. There's a reason why "a job is just a job" is an adage.
If you're fortunate and your job doesn't demand a lot, don't look to it to fill the void of free time if it's not interesting. Use that time for yourself to the extent that your company will allow/overlook it (I suspect this is why so many FAANGs are anti-remote work).
As most people can agree, no one will ever be lying on their deathbed thinking "damn, I wish I'd clocked more time filing those TPS reports".
I have this issue too with the couple do-nothing jobs I've had. It causes me anxiety. It's uncomfortable. I'm waiting for the day that someone reviews my timesheets and says "this looks like bullshit" because I'll have no real defense. I'll have to say something to the effect of "I have a lot of downtime. I get all my work done and my projects are successful. But I agree I get this work done in only a few hours a week".
However, this anxiety is far, far less than the anxiety caused by doing a job I absolutely hate and required 30+ hours a week of decent effort.
There's a big difference between having nothing to do and not having to do anything. If you have nothing to do but need to keep up appearances, being in the office/online, etc. you're just wasting your life. But if you don't have to do anything and can disconnect and go on with your life it's much better.
This varies widely by person. Some people - whether they want to or not - define themselves by their work. Other people's priorities lie elsewhere. It sounds like the OP is of the latter type, though it's hard to know for sure until you try it.
If you have a good pre-existing network of contacts (or have a modicum of networking skills/are willing to do a bit of legwork) I’ve found there’s a constant demand for “low-end” sysadmin/devops work for small businesses - usually they just need someone to be on call in case their AWS/virtual hosting/or Shopify what have you go down. You could probably gather about a half dozen or so of those contracts, set up some alerts, and spend no more than a few hours a week on average of work and pull in enough to cover all your bills.
Like others, I’d recommend looking into FIRE principles at least, particularly the idea of Safe Withdrawal Rate - basically every $25-30 you have invested = $1/yr you can spend for the rest of your life.
Well, if you battle-test the "what happens if unexpected reboot [edit: or network loss, or API failure]" side of things for EC2, and validate simulated resource failure for the other bits... wouldn't it basically amount to figuring out where AWS's *real* status dashboard is this month (eg, specific Twitter or HN thread) and mass-mailing realtime "there, there"s until everything mostly comes back up by itself?
I had a data science position with a large non-tech company. It did B2B sales, and had a giant office for us, done up in brushed nickel and Edison light bulbs. The rest of the company was designed in standard cheap-cubicle format, but they took visitors (i.e. sales targets) through to see the data science team, so we got the fancy layout. After working there a few months, I realized that I was also there as part of the decoration. My work didn't matter (it took them 4 months to stand up a server for a project I was working on) and my boss didn't understand what I did. Very cush. Could have gotten away with a few hours a week of real work, though I still had to physically be there most of the time. I left for more money, plus ultimately having to surreptitiously waste 35 hours a week turns out to be quite draining.
> My work didn't matter (it took them 4 months to stand up a server for a project I was working on) and my boss didn't understand what I did. Very cush. Could have gotten away with a few hours a week of real work, though I still had to physically be there most of the time. I left for more money, plus ultimately having to surreptitiously waste 35 hours a week turns out to be quite draining.
Yup. I've occasionally landed on projects like this and had the same reaction. Sure, you can coast for NOW... but it always makes me feel like I'm rusting, and that the slow pace is undermining my competitiveness for the next position.
My view is that job security is your ability to get your next position. Any given job can blow up on you for reasons beyond your control. You have to continuously push yourself so you can easily pick up the pieces if/when that happens.
But 2008-11 was a formative experience for me, so maybe I'm just bitter.
My view is that job security is your ability to get your next position. Any given job can blow up on you for reasons beyond your control. You have to continuously push yourself so you can easily pick up the pieces if/when that happens.
But 2008-11 was a formative experience for me, so maybe I'm just bitter.
Same with the dotcom crash. Those with sharp technical skills soon found work with old-skool companies when the dotcoms evaporated. The others struggled for a long time after.
At the my current job, I don't even have tickets just slack messages consisting of hey can you do this inset vague thing, and after asking for multiple clarifications to narrow the possible interpretation I start working on it.
Guess what ? The last Big task/Project I had to do morphed into another one each time I reported that I was done for 11 times in a row, midway I just gave up mentally.
And it all started with "hey can you do a small script to download some CSVs from this server"
> having to surreptitiously waste 35 hours a week turns out to be quite draining.
I 100% agree with this. I'd much rather have actual work to do. My workaround has been to find 35 hours a week on something meaningful to me that won't upset the company if they find me doing it. So when I need to kill some hours looking productive, I find a way to use that time on a side project or hobby work.
Good idea, but for data-security reasons, they disabled all the USB drives. It would have been quite a challenge to get the code out without a trace. Probably no one would have cared if I emailed it to myself, but it would have been a very bad look.
I'm a musician and developer/architecture consultant. My goal since day one of tech work 15 years ago was "fund music life better", so I hear what you are saying. I currently average half-time and make a comfortable middle class salary.
The big thing to realize is that there is a huge difference between "I want a job where I can do minimal work and mostly do my own thing while still getting paid" and "I want a job where I can earn my living in 2-3 hours a day". I have done both, the first when young in non-tech fields, the second for the last 15 years in tech. I work very hard on those 3 hours a day, in a role where deadlines can never be missed and we are part of $100M+ transactions. I take that work very, very seriously. But I get paid enough to do my 18-20h a week and spend the rest of my time pursuing the arts, with no pressure to have to figure out how to monetize my music (a very nice thing).
If you're after the second, (hard, short work, for high money), you want to find specialized expert work where you are (as you astutely pointed out) out of the production loop. Consulting is the best thing I've found. When I'm on a gig with a client, they get me 100%, totally focused. When I'm off the gig, no one expects me to get back to them sooner than a day, allowing me to do grad school in music. The key to finding this work is to become an expert in some subfield of tech, and get really good at the human side. Writing, pubic speaking, negotiation, client relationship management, project and timeline management, etc. Not many techies want to get really good at those "soft skills", but if you do, and you are an expert in something, consulting firms will value you highly.
Another good option is contract tools development or freelance contracting for folks who need code only occasionally. Lots of companies will hire part time contractors to improve internal systems, and you're still out of the product deadline loop. I've done that too and still do it sometimes for scientists. Python and SQL are good for that area.
I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I've actually tried to hire dispassionate people before.
One was an assembly line style UI job with no future - the API was solid, the UI was designed by someone else. It just needed someone who could glue the parts, and repeat the same job forever, with minor API updates every now and then.
Another was a teaching job. Beginner HTML/CSS/Node.js. Come in 35 hours a week, actual necessary work is 12 hours/week. It's probably a dead end job, but it's a cash cow. Some graduates managed to go from becoming Uber drivers to junior developers who made the same salary with little manual labor, so the job brought benefit to society.
There's too many passionate people in the industry who just won't take these kinds of jobs.
I was never the type of person to try to write a framework to solve a tiny little task, but I am probably 50% more effective with my time since I stopped caring about my job. I am not stressed out at all and that makes a massive difference.
That being said I probably work about 75% less (~10 - 15 hours a week if I'm being honest) so the joke is still on my employer.
First was with a Huawei partner. They do certifications for this, full training, gave a checklist of what to do, and how to handle every error code. It pays bloody well for blue collar work. The work was done remotely at the time.
You could probably find similar work with some other tech giant that outsources routine work to agencies.
Second was with a major coding bootcamp that had a partnership with an educational institution. The person who created the syllabus went on to do his own course. They tried to hire me, literally saying that I could play games all day, freelance, come in late. The downside is tech moves, so you still have to keep up, even if it's beginner level.
This is the best Ask HN I've seen in a while. Fantastic.
As for OP, I recommend you consider data analytics. That may seem counterintuitive, but the analytical work is a great place to escape into, mentally. I really, REALLY enjoy it, and I can generally use whatever tools I want for the hard stuff, and then just spew out some Python/R for a notebook deliverable, or whatever format they want. It's really liberating to have so much control over the workflow, it's entirely unlike any other tech work I've performed.
Downside, there is a little "work" involved, but I think that you might not actually mind it. It seems you are frustrated with some part of your industry.
We can talk further if you'd like, I'd love to hear more about your story, however much of that you'd be willing/comfortable to share.
1. Expectations are vague in analytics work so most people can't tell if you're doing well or not.
2. Expectations are vague in analytics so if you're not delivering magic people will think you're lazy.
I honestly thought about this question but thought I would get laughed out of the room for asking. Good on OP for having the guts haha. There were several posts in the past of people complaining about "vest and rest" and I kept thinking, man... that sounds pretty sweet
There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to focus on hobbies/life and not caring much about working time job - I would guess most people fall on this side, actually (and they don't even have too much of hobbies either). However, the way you wrote this post, it strucks me that maybe you have burnout, or you're depressed - as if you reach out to your passions not mainly because you like them, but because those never failed you, and you want to get away from everything else, in which you were disappointed.
If this is not the case, just ignore this, but please think about it first. The world can be a great place with the right view, and there is a lot that can bring you back on track - including an inspiring daytime job.
Thanks for the kind words, I'm absolutely not depressed ! I'm very happy with my life outside of work. Some days I even feel euphoric being lucky as I am, being able to play my favorite sport and having a loving family.
I'm only trying to optimize by reducing the time spent working and thinking about work, which I never see bringing me anything else than money.
We work because we need money to live. Unfortunately many got blinded with corporate ladder climbing that makes one live to work and die for it even though they don't like the work itself. Good for you. Wish you luck getting that job. Live long and prosper.
I identified myself way too much in OP's post. I'm in my mid-20s, have a job as a consultant DevOps engineer in a boring fintech company, in a project that I think will fail. I'm full-remote atm, and I'm already doing the least amount of work that I can do without it being noticed.
I'm really good at programming (based on feedback of my co-workers), and I like doing side-projects (usually video-game related). I can't stop thinking everyday that I'm wasting my skills on, as OP stated, useless software. I'm not sure that I'm not being a diva, though.
I'm currently taking the steps to go to a 4/5th schedule, but I'm not sure it will make it any better. I'll have more time to do what my want (side-projects + hobbies), but I'm not sure it will solve what I feel deep down.
In my experience shifting to a 4/5 schedule won't cure your burn-out. You need to take a vacation, 1-2 week vacation, to really get rid of that burn-out feeling and "recharge" yourself. And if you come back and within a week or 2 feel that dread feeling again, then it's time to move on and find something else. As everyone else has said, being unhappy ever day is no way to live life.
There's a truckload of options, really. Get more into side projects while ignoring/minimizing job tasks, like OP. Try to find jobs that relate closer to what you like (that's the great thing in being a dev, you can switch jobs or roles rather effortlessy, if you have CV that proves you are generally experienced). Find more interesting things within your field, or even current role. Simply switch to a nicer company. Get into charity work. Monetize a hobby, start a venture - even besides an existing job. And so on.
One thing is important, is that you HAVE to deal with this problem, however convenient it seems to just let things as they are, and "not think about it". OP was really great at recognizing that there is a specific issue to be solved here.
I think you're feeling some depression/ennui because you don't care for this particular job. I had similar issues years ago which went away almost immediately after switching jobs. I'd suggest just trying to find a devops job elsewhere at a company you think isn't making something totally pointless.
Thanks for writting this. This is how I feel for two years and having a random stranger on Internet being able to describe it and says `The world can be a great place with the right view` is reconforting.
This is not an adequate advice for somebody who has a family to support.
I'd argue that for the most of us, once we go beyond 18-19 years old we can no longer afford to "think about it first" all the way to retirement age.
So I am really not sure what actionable point you're making here. "Find a better job", maybe? Yeah, a lot of us are trying that. I guess it's filter bubbles thing because I keep being contacted by HR agencies and companies that I want nothing to do with.
I think the poster you’re responding to is just asking the person to check in with themselves about where they’re at mentally. The original post sounds a lot like myself when I was burnt out and depressed. Sometimes when you’re in that state, you’re looking for a bandaid rather than a fix for the things you’re feeling. I thought it was valid advice, even though it sounds like the original poster is very happy outside their job.
Sounds like you might be burnt out yourself looking for a different job? It’s tough to know you’re a good worker, but feel like companies are passing you up. I’m sorry if you’re going through that. Hang in there. It can take a while, but it gets better eventually!
Sure, I am mostly saying that depending on their situation they might not be able to afford to make the right call that will serve their mental health. I feel the crowd in HN is very privileged and regularly are lacking this perspective so I feel the need to point it out.
Thank you for the kind words. I am severely burned out indeed and always fatigued but at least I went to the doctors and have a few examinations due. It's a start.
I can think of two possible routes that would fulfil this criteria in different ways.
The first is to get an IT job at a government organisation that isn't heavily IT focussed, but needs someone on staff "just in case". I once interviewed for a job at a National Library for a 35,000 GBP/year role (with 20% pension). They had a system where someone could book a room to read old manuscripts, and there was a C# program that let people swipe in and out with a smart card. For some reason they needed a dev on staff full time just in case anything went wrong. That was the whole scope of the job. Apparently most of the IT people there had other personal gigs they worked on most of the day, and it was super flexible. I didn't take it because I wanted a job that would push me and force me to learn things, but I reckon there would be a few jobs like that in government that would give you what you want.
The other way isn't exactly what you asked for, but might appeal to you anyway. Recently I've been working as a software contractor, mostly doing 3-to-6 month contracts, mostly for companies that need extra resource to hit some looming deadline. It's intensive work for the duration of the contract, but the money is a lot better than being a permanent employee, and I've been finding that over the course of each contract you can save up so much money that you could happily take a few months off in-between roles if you wanted to do what you like. I'm using the time off (just starting what I envisage to be a 4 month break minimum) to try to build side projects, but you could spend 4-5 months playing sport or whatever just as easily. You might even find the contract route gives you the time to do your hobbies, and professional fulfilment too, because each is timeboxed into several month long stints. Personally I love it.
I feel like I wouldn't be able to find good contracts but it might be imposter syndrome?
MSFT employee, most of what I need saved up but could use a bit more. I'd love to quit and just do some seasonal work but I imagine competition for the contracts you're talking about is pretty stiff and I don't have a huge professional network
You're in a fantastic company for networking, and Microsoft is a great partner for many small dev shops. Being a more niche Microsoft partner might be a good differentiator based on the Microsoft name on your resume.
I suggest being the one-man IT department in a non-IT org. E.g. a university department, a smaller school, a small-time manufacturer or retailer, etc.
Automating your job on one hand and managing expectations on the other should set you up for a while.
Your tech skills will degrade if you tend to them, but accumulating good will and maintaining occasional contact with people should ensure they help find you new jobs as they move about.
I'd say that this is a good direction. Even better would be to take a job that isn't exactly an IT role at an org that doesn't really have an internal IT department, but does its data processing by sharing Excel files.
Then, automate your work away but don't tell anyone.
As someone that spent years working 2 - 8 hours a week on their real job while getting top performance reviews, here's my slightly unethical tips.
- Choose a megacorp where you're far away from the value being created. Analytics at a e-commerce site? No. IT at an oil giant? Yes.
- Cherry pick what you work on, image is everything. Focus only on project that make you look good and (ideally) others don't understand. Work on them a couple hours a week and make it seem like you spent all week on them.
- When interviewing make sure your manager doesn't have a technical background in what you're going to be doing.
- Build relationships. This one is critical. Just genuinely try to be helpful when others are in a rut. Get to know your boss on a personal level.
You'd be shocked how achievable this is at a megacorp. Personally I used the time to launch a variety of businesses, but be warned choosing this path can be a double edged sword. Sometime's it's the amazing but other times you can slide into a funk when you feel like your life isn't going anywhere.
It's so interesting reading these replies because I identified a lot of different sings that I thought would be good, but then reading yours, I see that every single one is in play for my dud job. I do think having a non technical boss is important though, so you can hand wave that you are doing some tech wizardry while really doing nothing
The US Federal Government is where you want to be, if goofing off all day is your goal. I know, I worked there. I supervised a guy who explicitly refused to do his job. He said so in emails that he sent to me. I, and my supervisors, started giving him bad annual reviews. He sued, claiming racial discrimination. From that point on, every time he refused to do his job and we tried to pressure him into doing it, he amended his EEO lawsuit to claim that we were retaliating. My supervisor said to me "This guy can spend 100% of his time trying not to get fired. You can spend maybe 2% of your time trying to get rid of him. Who's gonna win?". I was told by our HR department that we could get rid of him, or at least demote him, if he failed two annual reviews in a row. Eventually he did, but we were then told by HR that he had to fail two annual reviews in a row in the same way; if he failed twice, but differently in the second year, that didn't count. At that point I stopped trying to get rid of him, and he's still sitting in his office pulling down 6 figures. Everyone is in a protected class. If you're not a racial minority or a woman, or in a minority religion or older than 50, claim you're depressed - bingo EEO protection!
Find a medium-sized company with a local monopoly.
- They are not competing in their market / has had dominance for more than a decade.
- Their business model does not depend on innovation or moving fast.
- The ambitious people are all located in sales/marketing.
- The development dept. is known for saying "good things take time" because they can afford to.
- Career advancement typically isn't possible unless a tech lead quits, but they're cushy.
You can't trade low effort for low wage. You have to qualify skill-wise and drop the effort over time. You may be able to find something on the low end for your skill level, but an employer will think it's average. Picking something you think is below your skill level might boost your psychology, and you might be able to pull 2-3x.
As for picking tasks where you can minimize effort:
- Pick a role where spending time on other people's task is justified. During stand-ups when you have to explain what you did, you can say that you worked on your own thing, and that you helped the other person. This is not just a way to cheat: I care more about what I do, if I'm helping someone who cares more. I invented this coping strategy at points where I didn't care at all myself.
- Pick more researchy tasks: People don't know exactly what to expect, the work isn't as easily quantified. So when you spend longer or don't have as much to show for it, that may make sense.
- Become highly available on emergency / show high effort once in a while: This counts against not making an effort, but people will remember you for fixing things when it matters, and they tolerate you working at your own pace most of the time.
- Select somewhere with a new CTO / tech lead: They're super busy learning how to juggle management and mentoring, so if you're stuck onboarding for more time than normal, they won't blame you. This may sound leechy, but just make sure you provide some kind of value to everyone else other than your full attention.
Also, this was my best-paying job for 3 years focusing on family and mental health outside of work.
> During stand-ups when you have to explain what you did, you can say that you worked on your own thing, and that you helped the other person.
Also, pick a role where you're constantly blocked by other people. So, working in a big company, where every function (renting a VM, setting up a DB schema, adding an AD group etc.) is centralized in one team, possibly overloaded and not too competent, possibly outsourced for cheap to India. These folks can take months to complete simple tasks and you can always say you can't move forward until they deliver.
Also, working in integration-heavy project. If your codebase calls 8 different systems in your company, they will all fail, have incomplete documentation, unresponsive teams etc. and will result in a lot of waiting and lost time on your end (which is what you're after).
At least in my experience, people who get away with a small amount of work are almost always senior people who are highly regarded by the higher-ups. It's difficult to get away with doing very little work as a junior person in any org because 1) you don't have the autonomy to choose the work, 2) you're considered fungible, so you're given relatively fungible work, which is easy to size and compare against others, and 3) you're not trusted, so managers scrutinize your work more. The caveat is that it's hard to overcome these issues without having worked hard at some point - the key is having some level of expertise within the company along with the trust of the higher-ups who would rather focus their energy on ensuring that less trustworthy people don't mess up.
Work where your perceived value is disconnected from actual real work, where you can hide your actual productivity or where the company has set so low bar that you will be shining example even when actually working 1h a day.
- Providing advice, if you already have experience. Ideally general advice that would not require you to spend a lot of time investigating client-specific situation or do it relatively quickly.
- If you run circles around other developers and want to earn well, DO NOT get paid for time. Your time is much more valuable than other developers but you are most likely going to be paid roughly the same (within a small factor).
- Fixed price rather that time and materials, provided you can choose your own technology and you are good at it (see above). Make sure you are well insulated from any impediments from the company that contracts you. Make sure contract is very, very well specified.
- If you are good developer, get hired well below your ability. Get hired at a shitty company where average productivity is very low. You will be running circles around other developers working 1h a day.
- Spend significant part of your time (say over half of it) learning stuff. Over time you are going to become much better than other developers and be able to do things in fraction of the time. Even if the project doesn't work you are still taking the knowledge with you.
- Contracting. Contracts will make it difficult for you to get promoted but you don't care. You just want to get decent money for little work. In general, you earn more on contract than full time employee, but you can hack the system and earn as much as a regular employee for less work.
Try searching for stuff to do with managing ETL/integrations. Some of these jobs will require loads of product involvement, others will be some not terribly interesting data munging. At your target salary level which you mentioned elsewhere (30k EUR), there should be plenty of positions where you'll exceed expectations with 2 hours of focused, intelligent work per day. Not sure how many will be remote though, sorry!
You can do all of this and earn a high salary if you become an...
Read a few books, recycle stuff you find online, do a presentation on neurodiversity. It really is money for old rope. I knew of one who worked in a UK gov department who got £1250 a day, charged for 5 days, and only turned up for 4.5. Did it for years.
I'm not an Agile coach, but have seen enough to know that it really is nonsense snake oil that large organisations will pay incredible sums of money for.
I sort of wonder if the negative real value of the Agile industry means the price is effectively limitless, given that the whole thing is a Fugazi so the bill is whatever the buyer is foolish enough to pay.
If the organisation is big enough and dysfunctional enough, your absence will not be noticed for long periods of time. Just make sure whenever you are seen you have the appearance of being in a huge rush.
There was a well-written story about someone in a large company who was by some coincidence suddenly left without duties and went on for years doing exactly that. But I no longer remember the source or whether it was a fictional story.
Every job can be converted into this esp in any sort of managerial role, the strategy to do this has only 3 basic steps:
# 1 - Hire a great team under you.
If you have one person, two person, or more working under you, make sure they know what to do and make sure they understand your expectations.
# 2 - Delegate your work.
Try to get rid of as much work as possible. There will be surprisingly little you have to do personally if you have done step 1 right. People who work under you wont even mind delegation+trust if you dont get in their way and micromanage. Just give them work and forget about it.
# 3 - Relax
Now you can chill while other people do your work for you. Keep tuning this system until you have created a well oiled machine under you that runs with minimal manual supervision. You now have time to focus on more important things.
"Hire a great team" .."Delegate your work"..These are the opposite of easy stuff which OP wants to do. Team building and managing is one of THE hardest things to do. Won't work for OP who is looking for easy stuff. Source: I have built a team of 20+ people and keeping it functioning well is one of the hardest things for me.
Hiring and managing a team is extremely hard, and can get very stressful. The care and nurturing of organizations, while keeping them productive and resilient to constantly changing environments, is probably the hardest job.
Agreed. This comment sounds like it came from either someone who has never been in a management role before or someone who is on track to be the boss everyone hates because they do none of the work but take all of the prestige.
Anyone who thinks hiring, managing, and retaining good talent is easy has never done it before. Either that, or they somehow have high enough budgets to hire people at $500K/yr and pay them to ignore the bad boss in exchange for fat paychecks.
This is a great question and I appreciate your candor. Having been through a similar stage w/ my tech career (I was trying a switch to the art business), I think there several things that meet your requirements. You said you're ok with teaching and helping people remotely. There is s*ton of money in that. I did it with Shopify and other platforms. You can hate the platform (I surely did) and still help people (who wind up happy) and you can charge a lot.
If you can find a niche where you know the platform (ie: your average skills are amazing to the biz owner who has none), you can charge $100/hr and work the 2-3 hour day you want and probably be fine, depending on your spending. The premise we used for Shopify was that, by teaching you, we got you "off the teat," so the teaching was high value and we charged accordingly. Did everything through Zoom-type meetings.
I work at a major bank, >50k employees, this is where you want to be if you don't want to do anything. Most bank managers and executives are old, print out an excel sheet and use a ruler old. The bar is also set so low at most banks that with 2-3 hours of work you'll get stellar reviews and managers will think you're a god.
1. A decade or two ago a story made the news that some guy
was working from some remote place in Scotland, basically
in the middle of nowhere, with just a modem and some novel
idea: do freelance research in subscription-only databases.
Basically just getting accounts for various costly services,
then advertise that for a fee you will do research in these
services for people who shun / can't afford the costly access. Unfortunately, I can't find the story any more.
2. Work as a freelancing developer, but don't accept large
projects, only small ones where you know you can beat the
time estimate in your favour. There are portals for this
sort of work.
3. Doesn't need to be software development. You can do this
as well writing short pieces about almost anything for the
benefits of web seo.
Again, there are portals for this kind of work ("gig economy"). Think $20 to $30 per piece.
4. If the gig economy is not for you: every job where a lot
of stand-by time is part of the job description. Janitor for
a couple of condominiums, maybe. Or you act as stand-by technician for small companies with self-hosted computer
hardware (acting when you get paged).
It sounds to me like you're experiencing burnout (possibly lockdown-related) and/or have worked unsatisfying jobs and/or for not-so-great employers. I worry that the strategy you declare you intend to pursue, while pragmatic, won't lead to long-term happiness or fulfilment. We all need to feel useful and have a real mission for at least some of the time. Hopefully you could find something, maybe part-time, at a government agency, non-profit, university or college. The fact you don't care about salary works wonders in your favour. If there's a job out there that's fulfilling and not stressful, but pay is such they struggle to get and retain people, you could be on to a winner there and find your "mojo" again. I think plenty of people on HN have had such motivational ruts in their career and come out the other side. I personally do a 4-day-week mid-level job despite possibly being "capable of more", due to caring responsibilities and desire to pursue other hobbies. Good luck, I think you're brave to ask this question on HN and its a nice alternative discussion to workaholism / protestant work ethic.
We get meaning from the responsibilities we voluntarily choose to bear. If OP isn't raising children, then yes, he/she needs to bear an incredible level of responsibility in their career/community to have a meaningful 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s
> The pandemic made me realize that I do not care about working anymore. The software I build is useless.
This has happened to a lot of people and I am wondering what that's about. It's happened to me also. I realized my job is useless and the primary benefit goes to the sales guy who sells my services. Did the pandemic cause this? If so, how?
The pandemic caused this realization for a lot of people because much of what really matters in life was taken away: friends, family, food, health, travel, education, recreation. In contrast with these things, nearly all work seems pointless and unfulfilling.
If there is a bright spot to the pandemic, perhaps it is that, having had these realizations, more people will be inclined to create work scenarios that work for them... ala the classic movie 9 to 5.
This reminds me of this old crazy internet legend about a guy who accidentally ended up in a position where the company he worked for literally forgot about him while still paying him. It's a rather long story but totally worth it:
Business are often happy to pay a high effective hourly rate. Consulting is easier than rank and file employment, but you seem to also want job security and predictability.
“Get away with” however indicates you want a “do nothing job”:
Option 1: where the manager doesn’t know/care upfront how little you work. That’s a game of exploring information asymmetries. I’d look for inexperienced managers, people hiring for jobs they have little knowledge about. That’s more important than the actual job description. You can prey on business leaders that are in over their head or have too much capital for their own good. But you’d have to beware so the business itself isn’t too risky, lest you spend all your time job hunting.
Option 2: where the manager can’t fire you even if they want to. Where I live some of that comes automatically with seniority. Joining a union can help as well. Or else playing politics: making the right friends and gathering dirt on them. After attaining the position, incompetence is your friend. Make a point of fucking things up (on purpose) until your responsibilities get taken away.
Option 3: I don’t have anything personally against your position. I’d recommend soul searching just how far you want to stretch it: if it’s okay to trick your employer out of a salary, you might take it a notch further and find a well paying career in outright fraud. I bet ethics are a barrier to entry in many gray area careers.
You haven’t stated your nationality (or country of residence) so this advice may or may not work out for you.
Lot of European software companies fall in this category. Not necessarily low expectations but you are expected to work only during business hours and the work is typical CRUD app development/maintenance. The projects are managed well so no crazy fire fighting to meet super tight deadlines. On top of that if you can get into shops that work on governmental IT/automation work then nothing like it. Very decent job security, sane vacation policy are added bonus.
Some of those EU shops may even be willing to take on full remote employees.
I’m in the US. It’s not always normal. You might need to support items outside of regular business hours like production updates, or if you’re IT, computers/infrastructure doesn’t often break between the hours of 9-5.
Surprisingly, the type of job you're looking for does exist - I know someone in a role where they spend very little time actually working - BUT you may not like to hear what I'm about to describe.
The role is at a unionized utilities company. The reason there's little work is that seemingly simple tasks are usually estimated in the order of days (or sometimes weeks). There's little opportunity for career advancement since the unionized nature makes every role stable/comfortable regardless of contribution to bottom line. But through the same token, most work can be considered busy work: tweaking header font sizes to please the whims of some higher up, re-fixing regressions caused by mediocre peers and the like. Decision making is done by higher ups and for the most part you just work on tickets that are triaged for you. The work is on the flagship product, but it's so dysfunctional already that it doesn't really matter if you care about its quality or not.
The upside is the job is fully remote, and the workload is typically in the range of 10-20 hours per week, if that. Pays above national average too.
The downside is, don't expect to come out of this job with up-to-date skills. It's also extremely unfulfilling and meaningless work. It's easy money but it's also easy to get trapped in a rut if later your career goals change (yes, this happens as you get older)
My advice is actually to look for the opposite type of work: challenging impactful work. Happiness is a function of accomplishments. It's alluring to covet for less work, but IMHO that's the "grass is greener on the other side" phenomenon.
I might suggest a slightly different approach. “Early Retirement Extreme” proposes that if you save 80% of your income in a few broad index funds (search bogglehead), learn to live on the 20%, then you can get to where you are financially independent and retire in 5 years. I can’t say I’m personally there yet, but it sounds like you are more motivated and maybe less obligations. Get cheap ass housing, eat cheap, bike everywhere, and work your ass off for 5 years while saving 80%.
I salute this life hack. Focus on decreasing per-month expenses. Reflect on large purchases like a house because that's where you can save the most absolute-saved-per-percent-saved.
My first house was $50k with ~$550/month house expenses (HOA / taxes) in New Jersey. My current house is a $150k duplex with ~$200/month expenses (excluding utilities) in Michigan (and about $600 in income rent from renting the other half of the house).
Choose frugality level up to your comfort, but also read up on Positive Psychology and Hedonic Treadmill to learn how to squeeze more happiness out of your money.
Best article: If Money Doesn't Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren't Spending It Right
Yes, that's generally the math. You save 80% of your income while learning to structure your life to live on the 20%. These people bike everywhere, eat cheaply, and are all around frugal. If you can do that, then in 5 years you can retire and have to worry less about money. For me personally, that would mean sacrifices to my family's lives that I'm not willing to make, but I see the appeal and try to apply the concepts where I can.
Not directly answering your question, but you might want to look into FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). The subreddits /r/FIRE, /r/leanFIRE, and /r/fatFIRE are full of excellent info and active communities of people who have either achieved or are working to achieve exactly what you are hoping to do.
I work at Google. Most people here do a lot of work. But maybe 5% do next to nothing, or nothing you couldn't do in 2 hours a day. I imagine this is the case at any sufficiently large corporation. So if you can find a remote job at a BigCo, it might be worth a try! Note that you can't do nothing from Day 1, you have to try for maybe a year and then you can do nothing (based on my observations)
In my experience it's normally an L4 or L5 software engineer working on a project with a lot of tech debt and no major upcoming launches. So maybe it's some random little-used Cloud product or a piece of internal infrastructure. Or it could be some aimless skunkworks team that leadership forgot about.
They also almost always have a bad manager who is sort of aware that nothing is getting done but doesn't have the management skills to address it.
The best I can suggest is sysadmin for some boring government agency. It doesn't fit the "fully remote" part, but otherwise you are free to do whatever you want as long as everything is up and running. You also don't need to manage anyone, although you do have to talk to angry users once in a while.
Really, any company with say >2500 (?) falls in this category. It's an entire job of several people to just maintain the worker Inventory (laptops, monitors, etc) room for example. It takes a lot of infrastructure to support a company of size, plenty of people in my 10k person company doing what you want - run the company that runs the product.
This post shows why anonymity on the internet is so important. Anonymous people don't have nothing to lose, and women and men that don't have nothing to lose are able to say the most brutal, socially unacceptable truths.
Based on experience, I say find the least mission critical skunkworks at a BigCo / FAANMG. Something the executives get a five minute report on once a year, and they don’t care. Bonus: get the same Corp-wide performance / compensation structure as people who do work!
I've been thinking about starting a co-op with a few people recently (get a front end person, a backend person, maybe someone who knows CMS's and can do website things, someone who knows marketing, a writer, a designer, and an ops person) and taking on freelance work. We wouldn't all be needed for all projects, we'd all try to bring in leads, and it would generate good part time work for everyone.
On the side if we did this I thought I'd go work at REI or the local climbing gym or something. Just some place that I don't absolutely hate being where I can make a guaranteed 10-20 hours of terrible wages to pad out the dry spells where we don't have freelance work.
I think if this could be properly balanced I could only work the equivalent of a few full time days out of the week, but also I've never done it so maybe it will just be impossible and consume all my time for no pay.
Step 1 - Get a remote contracting job where you are the sole engineer on a specific part of the product, like a mobile app or web service.
Step 2 - Work real hard on building a large undocumented code base. Get a reputation for speed and responsiveness.
Step 3 - Gradually do less and less while billing the same hours. Truthfully tell them that the code base has gotten so complex changes take a lot longer. Rely on your previous reputation to keep them comfortable with that.
Your client will likely accept all this at face value. Even if they get frustrated, no one will want to take on your large mass of undocumented code.
You can probably milk this as long as the product remains funded. The major risks are product cancellation or worse, high product success that leads them to want to invest more into development. Barring those two unlikely events you likely have years of coasting ahead of you.
Sounds like a good advice. Even better if you're good at working with someone else's legacy code who had already left the company.
At my first job, it often took me several days to find bugs that were often fixed by changing very few lines of code. Nobody would have noticed if I hadn't done anything for a whole day other than answering occasional messages.
Basically my current contract at a startup funded by a bank. Though I started off doing fast work only to realize that the CEO/PM has a fetish for feature bloat, and entire sections of the app get changed by the designers within 2-3 weeks of the previous changes. So the code base is naturally a complicated mess.
I learned quite quickly that to maintain sanity the key was to do the work as quickly as possible, and then sit on the commit for a few days while I work on my own projects.
I'm still delivering at an expected speed but probably average 2 hours/day of real work with the occasional full days leading up to prod release. I keep Slack open throughout the day to give the illusion of 9-5, but then there's the context switching issue if you get pinged at 3pm.
Capitalism is such a joke. This system no longer functions for human life.
When I was in management, I can’t think of many cases where a quiet, moderate positive performer was commented upon much. They were mostly not discussed, with most of managements energy occupied by the highest or lowest performers.
I suspect you can get by in most orgs with the least energy being moderately productive. You get there by letting go and accepting dysfunction and poor quality you can’t change. You just ride with it, shrug a bit, and decide there’s more important things in life.
Actively working to be unproductive is hard. Many poor performers work hard to create a lot of theater around poor performance to make it not look as bad. It’s also a lot of stress to have managements eyes engaged on you all the time.
So I’d find a company where you can efficiently achieve moderate productivity in the least amount of effort with the maximal acceptance from the org. This means a company that:
- is very people friendly, seems to value employees work life balance
- is big enough to make a career out of one place, so you gain efficiency from all the tribal knowledge you’ve acquired
- lets you specialize in one thing, and you just do that thing. Again more work efficiency.
- has solid non salary benefits that enhance quality of life: healthcare, vacation, etc
Finally, in this job, I would:
- never volunteer for anything. Just do your work.
- almost never put in extra hours, make the conscious choice to do your time, that’s it
- avoid high engagement (empowered to fix everything!) and low engagement (complaining and hating everything). Just accept!
- remember your power in the relationship: tech is a field where there’s never enough people to do the work. If you’re performing OKish, not making huge waves positive or negative, you should be able to get another job easily enough. So don’t think you need to bend over backwards or stress at too hard about deadlines, etc if you really don’t want to.
I really feel for your question because I have felt in similar ways recently. The pandemic has made life really dull and my days literally just consist of work, eat and sleep. Everyone on our team feels the same way and even though nobody really is asked to work long or hard everyone still feels on the verge of a burnout and a mental crisis, because we all feel stuck in a surreal world of four walls and isolation.
Anyways, those feelings aside, I can recommend to do some contract work. Contract work allows you to switch work frequently and take some longer breaks in-between whilst charing good rates whilst you work in order to afford the breaks.
Additionally contract work allows you to change up the projects you work more easily. In your case I'd recommend to look for a contract role where you help with the maintenance of some old boring tech project. These projects don't normally attract career hungry over-achievers which means you'll likely end up on a small team (because old boring tech projects don't attract lots of business investment) and a team of fairly mellow and chilled co-workers, more like the 10am-4pm type of guys and girls.
Also as a contractor you can work more flexible. I for instance have reduced my work days to only 4 days a week which has been a really nice change this year.
> Additionally contract work allows you to change up the projects you work more easily.
How often do you change jobs as a contractor? What range of rates would you recommend targeting?
> I'd recommend to look for a contract role where you help with the maintenance of some old boring tech project.
Would you go through a recruiter to find something like this? How would you frame this to a recruiter that this is the type of job you want? You can't really just say, "I want an easy software job". Or can you? But you especially couldn't say that to the company.
I build a website that helps people navigate life in Germany. It requires little work and pays the bills. I still have to work, but if it's sunny outside, I am rarely stuck behind the keyboard.
Unfortunately, I don't think I could easily reproduce. I wouldn't have the energy to do the same in a new location. Even in my little circle, I have many competitors, though they are fortunately not that good. If there was an easy recipe, everyone would do it.
I guess the general idea is to build something that decouples payout from income, and avoid obligations that force you to work on a fixed schedule. It's important to me to be able to let the website run itself for a week or two.
Well, if you found a job that required a lot of repetitive manual tasks and you could write a little program or script and automate it (and not tell the company that you did so) you would suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time...
That has been tried and if (when) found out will get you worse than fired. Data entry and administrative paper-shuffling often involve highly sensitive data (e.g. medical) and you can put the whole company in jeopardy if you outsource this to mturk or similar parties outside the org.
Although I agree in principle that a lot of these jobs could greatly benefit from automation (or even just OCR and scanner).
If you have these skills, why not go to a big insurance company or a medical research organization, show off your AI and offer to "digitize" their workflow across the board? Could make big bucks off of that.
Look for teams that have no business being as big as they are. On a over-staffed team, the devs take one piece of work and divide it up (sometimes it’s laughable even to us, but we have to fill up Jira with stories). So long as no one on the team is pretentious, you guys should be able to have very piecemeal amounts of work and a dependable squad to pick up slack as needed.
It sounds like I’m describing a normal company with healthy redundancy, but apparently in tech you can end up on unhealthy lean teams. Your boss also needs to be a long timer who ‘gets’ that all of you divided up the simplest task evenly, and that ‘this is the way’. If he/she scrutinizes it, then it’s no good because the lie must be believed by all (with the underlying acceptance that this is better for everyone versus having heroes and rockstars).
Wait for the pandemic to die down and the froth to return in hiring, where companies will define ‘growth’ by building out more teams. No reason not to stay a developer since you already invested the time to do the work in your sleep.
The hard part is you will have to find a company that is successful enough that they can afford it.
Places like this can actually bring back some sanity if you have a life outside of work. You’ll die if work is your identity though, as others have mentioned (super unfulfilling, no one will be allowed to architect or go nuts, since predictability is paramount).
Last thing I’ll say is, absolutely under no circumstance should you lower your salary expectations. The companies that pay developers lower expect more. They seem to not believe the cost is worth it, and that you are lucky to even be getting as much as you are getting. You’ll be pushed much much harder at those places. The 10k luxury purse only gets taken out on special nights. The $200 one gets taken everywhere.
> I think the only possible jobs would be some kind of backend-only dev or devops/sysadmin work.
I thought that as well, so I became a sysadmin instead of a developer after graduating (couldn't help drifting towards DevOps later). Turns out, while Ops have to keep things running 24/7, all the other teams really don't -- so you get lots of unplanned work dumped on you, with no one under you to pass it on. So you do work a lot as an admin.
Luckily I've had the wisdom to choose (and the luck to be chosen) a smaller company to work for, it was not a tech giant by any measure. Few years later, when I demanded a switch to working part-time (and stated my decision to leave if I don't get that), I actually got that deal - and the overtime maintenance duties got passed onto other colleagues who stayed full-time, sadly unfree.
Now, with more weekend days than work days, I've had enough time to read lots of fiction books, play games like back in the childhood times, learn Haskell and some NixOS internals, learn some history and philosophy/epistemology (compensating for a terribly one-sided education), and finally get to work on stuff that makes me feel like a hacker-type dude again.
I can only wish you luck in getting out of the whole "trading away your finite lifetime years for mostly useless money" story. It's not like you can fulfill yourself by paying money for mass-produced goods and services, anyway :)
Find a B2B company which has some project no one cares about.
In one companies I worked for it was a mobile app that no one used or cared. Main product was a web app but it was also shitty. The company lived on selling this to new customers with long-term contracts so once they got a deal the work is done. The app was de-facto only needed for some demos, and mobile app was just so sales can say they have a mobile app.
So in the team there was one backend guy who worked there for 5 years. He spent max 1 hour a day working, but mostly he never worked at all (he had months of no commit history), he was just sitting in the corner and doing his side gigs or whatnot. He was the only one who knew codebase for his proxy server that communicated with the rest of the backend.
The rest of the team (mobile devs) also did not care about it because there were no pressure from management, but they did some work, but it was also pretty much chilling. And because everyone liked the guy as he had awesome social skills and was a really nice person, no one bothered him. And he got good salary initially so he did not need any promotions.
That backend guy eventually went to another company. In these 5 years he got enough time to buy a house, travel a lot, had a child, started his own business etc.
I actually have come to a similar realization. Most of the software we build is pointless-- does not bring value, and is the vanity project of some manager somewhere or just a way to look busy. Also creating something of value for someone is always seems secondary to some other stupid goal that would only exist within the corporate context, i.e. -- using a library when its really not necessary, having a complicated tangled mess of code when some straightforward logic would do.
I don't have an answer for OP's question except that earlier in my career the above really bothered me and I would fight against it; now it doesn't and I basically just try to do what people tell me to with minimum stress, which leaves me more time for my own hobbies.
I should also say that I had an acquaintance that did this. He was working for a small local ISP (I think; might have been hosting, the kind of thing where they give you an FTP server and the ability to shoot everyone else on the shared server in the foot with PHP) and he literally turned his entire job into a couple of scripts and a big spreadsheet. He then just ran them a couple of times a week and called it a day. I don't know exactly what all he did, some sort of server management things and providing stats to management, but nobody else knew how to do it so he provided the non-technical management who didn't understand their own small company with value and the only work he had to do was run some scripts. It can be done.
Just get some remote/freelance programming work with long-term potential and then hire someone else to do all of it for you and keep the difference.
Make sure to pick a client who is in a very lucrative high-margin industry, so that even once the work dries up they will want to keep you on payroll incase something goes wrong. They might literally pay you a salary to do nothing just for the one day a year things break.
I know a guy who had two contracts like this. He did the work himself, but then they both kept him on $3k monthly retainers to just be available in case anything breaks. He didn't work for about a decade, and then when the contracts ended, all his skills were a decade out of date and he couldn't get work. But, he had saved up, bought a house which 4x'd in value, and is only just starting to worry about money another 10 years later.
I am a highly paid consultant in cryptocurrency infrastructure systems, and I use my rates (both hourly and flat) to work less, not more. So sometimes I can earn a lot of money for a few hours of work, but it is not boring. It is stimulating and requires a lot of thinking, as I specialize in a particularly rare niche. Though it generates a lot of stress when there are no clients for long periods of time.
For the rest of it, I work in the academia, where the money is nearly nonexistent, but it helps me for my freedom of self-actualization (and since it is computational epidemiology, there is suddenly a lot of real world relevance). Still, event when there are no clients for months, the money from the academia is enough to survive (barely).
I think you might have good chances with big companies with good work and life balance. Maybe banks or insurance companies could be a good match for you.
Basically what you are looking for might be: A rather older team. Legacy technology (maybe COBOL ;) ). No new development. Also a "lazy" team is good. Look for teams where most members have families, maybe small kids.
BUT guess the SECRET weapon is Head-MONOPOLY. You need to find something that nobody maintenance and nobody have the knowledge for or don't want to be involved in. In such case everyone is happy if you do your job, doesn't matter how slow or fast.
PHP does really well here. I once maintained one of these things. It was an awesome job. I worked ~8 hours a week, for a full time salary because if I left, they'd never be able to find someone to replace me. In fact, when I did finally leave, it took nearly 8 months to find someone and they left. I continued contracting for them for nearly 4 years until they went out of business.
Get insanely good and fast at WordPress custom dev,
find a shop that lets you work remote and bills you like you're a normal iffy rando developing for WP,
spend the difference between the time that you're getting billed out at and the actual time it takes you to do your work on practicing the piano.
The billing for the company will go up, the projects will get better, cause since you're so damn good sometimes you'll fix things deemed insolvable by other devs and teams. Just don't ever turn stuff in any faster than you commit to doing.
You're not gonna get a raise, but you do get more free time.
Government work. Definitely government work. Ideally in some municipal office managing internal applications. Now that said, don't come crying to us if in 10 years when people get downsized that you cannot find a job elsewhere since the industry has moved on when really it's your skills that atrophied.
Depends on what you consider "real work". I would say 99% of business analysts in any enterprise level company do real work 1% of the time. The rest is filled with bulshitting, talking, harassing others or actively looking through the office windows while waiting for someone to do something.
It isn't and hasn't been for a decade (since the ACA)
Medicaid is free and of reasonable quality. Or if you can't get access to Medicaid because you live in a non-Medicaid-expanded state then a silver ACA plan with 94% cost sharing will be no more than 8.5% of your income (which means free if you have no income).
The parent comment was about being tied to a job by insurance. If you quit that job you won't have any income so you will qualify in Medicaid expanded states, where only income matters. And again, if you can't get Medicaid, you qualify for a very low cost ACA plan with very high levels of coverage. Even if you're high income, a silver ACA plan is limited to 8.5% of your income.
The ACA has been in place for a decade. There's no reason for low income people not to have insurance these days and people haven't been tied to their jobs by insurance for a decade.
Until you have a rare medical condition that forces you into bankruptcy because the treatments are not covered. Bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own.
Source - filed for bankruptcy due to family member having a rare medical condition. It was a strategic decision, because rich fat cats do it all the time when they make bad decisions. Within 18 months, bought new car at 0% interest, had mortgage within 3 years at very low interest. It wasn’t bad at all.
If any other business was ran like the medical industry, it would have been shut down years ago.
Work at an org where you think you could be considered at least a 4x engineer. Even better a 10x. I could be a 4x/10x/100x engineer someplace, and a 0.25x at another.
Learn to automate stuff at your job. It works at programming jobs too.
Prefer the workplace is a product or SaaS/product company. My experience with it shows that it has a lower cognitive load after the initial 6 months to 1 year of hard work. Yes, you have to put in extra effort early on to reap the benefits later on. This does not mean programming more, but understanding the product in depth and in domain.
On top of that prefer an established product which has sizeable management and team size. Things move slowly here.
Stay away from lead/architect/management roles - it would be unethical to take up any of those.
Prefer a development (programming) role. Over the years, I have realised that "time is elastic" with programming roles.
Keep away from consulting companies/consultant roles. Some of those pay well, but then you are not looking to earn more.
In ideal situation I would recommend leaving toxic places - but embrace and learn to manipulate workplaces that give more importance to "visibility" than "actual work".
And the last piece: All of the above should be temporary for few years - it will hurt your psyche the longer you keep doing it. Explore and change your earnings to something that will work for you long term.
Have you ever thought about creating your own project, which, as you say, will not be "useless". I think this is a good option. But it's up to you to decide what to do. For example, I have a dream to create something like https://audext.com/ but so far there is no time and money.
This is unethical, but outsource yourself. Get contractor jobs and then hire cheap overseas workers to do the work and pocket the difference. If you can get a few of these gigs going and can manage your calendar you can probably cut yourself down to 20 hours a week.
Just be better at hiding it than the guy we hired who got busted doing this literally within the first hour of his first day. Don't let your boss take over your computer while your contractor is controlling your computer via WebEx!
This isn’t unethical. There are entire companies that do exactly this. If done well, this is actually an extremely valuable service. It would be unethical if you are hired as an employee and outsourced your work, but as a contractor this is fair game.
Subcontracting is not against the rules unless the contract specifically says so. Your job as the prime contractor is to manage the subcontractors so that means IP and privacy concerns etc... Houses are built by subs for example. Defense software is built by subs.
This is still an issue even if you're a contractor! The company should know who has access to their internal resources and codebase. If you are upfront about it, then of course it is fine. Make sure it's in the contract.
> We had to fire someone doing this as well, he was caught because his "subcontractor" was calling into meetings and had a totally different accent!
This is hysterical. Can you say more about how it happened and the aftermath? How long did it take for suspicions to arise? Did the company confirm the suspicions with data (access logs or anything) or did they just ask him? Did the company treat it as a data breach or just fire the guy and move on?
I doubt it happened but it seems like an opportunity for the company to cut out the middle man and hire the subcontractor directly...
The contractor who we were paying was known by other employees, so when someone else called into a status report sounding different they contacted my group (IT/Security). He was a devops engineer so we had to comb through all the access logs to ensure he (or his subcontractor with his credentials) did not access patient data (of course this was a medical project with HIPAA). Luckily he was just working on our QA environment so there was no risk of data exposure, but it could have been worse.
OP should get a security clearance and a nice government contract. I did this for a while in my 20s and the work was super minimal, but your clearance/"expertise" combination gives you some protection from being ousted.
During this time, I was able to attempt to start my own company on the side, travel, and do things that were really exciting to me and gave my life more balance and meaning.
Since then, I have changed jobs and now work in the private sector. I now devote my soul to the company for some altruistic goal that seems less altruistic by the day. I still find meaning working here, but I still think being able to balance out work with other fulfilling things is important and I definitely have less opportunity to do so. I will say, however, that I could take more initiative to optimize my time and do other fulfilling things in what time is available.
Ultimately I do want to have kids one day and have to think about stacking some cash, which for me means less balance, while trying to not sacrifice meaning. I think the journey is about optimizing for different lifestyles at different points in your life and going really hard to achieve any and all goals you have at the time.
So, OP, go get your government job and start that side gig, but do it at 110%. Not a lazy 50%.
If company still wants you to put in the same 40 hours, I’d suggest a 4 days on / 2 off work schedule. You work 9 hours a day 4 days in a row and then take 2 off
Over a leap year, you’ll have 36*61 hours which is 2196 hours, actually more than the 2080 hours most people work. If you work 8.5 hours a day, you’ll come in only 6 hours short of a 40 hours work week.
(I haven’t tried this myself and I didn’t come up with the idea, but it’s always been something that I thought would be cool to do)
Remote support team in shifts.
It has usually zero responsibility as your shift ends since someone else is on duty, it can have enough compensation if you work for a long time for a US or a EU company. And after a while it's gets very repetitive since you are becoming very proficient in your domain.
If you don't have any aspirations of moving up the ladder, it can be also something you can be hired for even in older age.
Barista FIRE is a term used in the FIRE space that could fit this. You build up less savings but keep things ticking over with a lower level (in terms of stress, pay, and time) job than you might have otherwise. It seems like the OP is looking for a tech equivalent of a barista job.
I was searching this thread for a reference to FIRE, I see interesting parallels too.
You can take a serial (work your butt off now, enjoy life later) or parallel (OP's wish) approach to work/life, but it also does not need to be completely binary. If you can find a position that is sufficiently rewarding but not too stressful, and that allows you to save up enough that you can (semi) retire at, say, 50, that may be a great middle ground.
> I think the only possible jobs would be some kind of backend-only dev or devops/sysadmin work. But I'm not sure these exist anymore
Actually, if you work for a large MSP (ie, IBM, CGI, DXC) then you'll probably be able to find a job that fits all of those requirements. They'll undoubtedly have contracts with orgs that just want to outsource managing their infrastructure and that's a pretty easy gig.
Salesforce development. There's a real learning curve, but Salesforce provides really good teaching academies and certification processes.
For an enterprise company, there is no data more important or highly valued than the CRM. Also at a mature company, sale motions are already dialed in, and comp plans typically only change 1-2 times a year (more than one change a year is bad for org morale). Large overhauls can be a pain, but they're extremely infrequent and ideally scheduled well in advance.
Once the system is operating and the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly cadence reports are dialed in, you just need to make sure the system continues to run, and deal with any special odd projects or reporting requirements from the sales execs you're working with.
Your sale exec partners have every incentive to get their processes right the first time, and rarely change them -- change disrupts any team (not just engineers), only with sales teams, that change results in tightly trackable lost revenue.
Its not "zero work", but it fits the "2 hours of active work, then chill" requirement. You'll have a busier end of quarter, but the first 2-3 weeks of the quarter will either be crickets or greenfield work.
Edit: this role can legitimately be fun too. You're at the nerve center for how the company actually makes money, and you get to have a cross sectional view of all other functions as a result. You'll see "how the sausage is made" but you only have to report on it and build the tracking systems -- you're not on the hook for performance or output. Also, sales people know when they have a good CRM process and are some of the most grateful folks in the world to those who help them. If you do a good job for your users, you'll be getting public shoutouts every day.
You may be underestimating the job impact on availability of time for your hobby.
Most of the jobs trade your time for money with a varying degree of premium and committment. The full-time lets you calculate how much hobby time you could theoretically expect. This would be interrupted time.
Part-time may allow more hobby-time, but is often limited in span, before you'd need to find another part-time.
Similarly, the consulting service. It may allow more freedom, but requires rather high admin effort, which eats into your hobby time. Also, this depends on your skill and the niche.
Finally, a hybrid approach - work hard in high-paying position (full/part/consult) for a set period of time (years) to accumulate the needed funds. Then embark on a hobby expansion stretch, hopefully, with some noticeable result. At the conclusion (of funds in bank), embark on the next job/money-making phase. You may need to find a way to 'explain the gap'.
At some point in this journey, the solution to the puzzle may just offer itself to you, or may be rather forced (familiy, medical, or economy issues).
I would suggest looking at government or large, stogy companies (e.g. banks, insurance companies, etc). I think the key here is to find a place where everyone works slowly and it is very difficult to fire anyone.
This is a great post. I just posted an Ask HN about part time tech jobs, especially jobs with extremely low hours requirements. From time to time I find that local businesses sometimes need some in house tech stuff and will pay you on an ongoing basis for coming in a couple of times a week or remoting in to fix problems, etc. And this kind of mirrors what other people are saying - finding places that are using tech tangentially but don't really know what they're doing. The stress is way less. The issue I've run into with this is that a lot of these places are basically Stockholm Syndrome'd into using MS Office suite and various old school products that honestly have so many crazy bugs at the end of the day, and have changed so much over the years they're not really getting out of it what they did to begin with. It can be frustrating to have a place that is so locked into these tools and not open to growing, so in my experience even if it's low hours/minimal work, if you're maintaining something that's broken and hard to automate (MS Office bugging out) it gets really frustrating and less personally satisfying.
One thing that I had some minimal success with is reaching out randomly to non profits and asking them if they need any help, say with Word Press or something like that. Non profits are really big on the lower salary stuff and will probably be super grateful that you're able to do anything VS the janky/expensive setup they have currently. The cool thing about this too is you can look up non profits that you support and so it's more personal meaning than fixing some cursed CSS bug on Random Big Tech SAAS startup. I figure you may be able to work part time at a couple of these and have it add up?
Another thing is checking craiglist computer gigs. I've found interesting stuff there, most people don't think to look.
My hours have to be really limited so these options work for me less, but maybe they help you!
I've been on the lookout for something like this since maybe a year or two after leaving school. It is really tough to find a job with everything you describe. You can generally find most of these things, but having the job also be remote is where this really falls apart. Do nothing jobs aren't too hard to find, but actually having to go into an office and pretend to work for 40 hours a week gets draining pretty fast (a few months tops for me).
You might not want to hear this, but I landed on the fact that I should get the highest paying job I can, and actually work until I'm around 35-40 and have a mortgage paid off and a bit of cash in the bank. At that point I can pretty much coast on easier jobs and do 6 month contracts / 6 months no work for the rest of my "career". I can stomach working for 6 months if I know there is a long break each year.
Either way good luck. I'll be monitoring this thread for more ideas :)
I do kinda understand where you're coming from but I want to warn you against this approach.
These jobs you mention, they DO exist. But they break people and make them intensely miserable. Look into "boreout" (as opposed to burnout) to learn more about this.
You will be very happy for the first few months, being able to browse HN, news sites and Reddit all day while nobody cares about what you do, nobody wants your input, you've got no responsibilities other than pressing a button, writing a half-page report once a month and saying "yes" on the rare occasion someone asks you something in passing. But it will get old quick.
I've met people who have been in these kinds of jobs for decades and you can see it in their eyes. They are dead inside. I've even heard that in some large companies and cultures with strong workers' rights / labor laws this is actually used as a punishment: We can't fire you, so we'll just put you in a small, shabby, single office on the far end of the campus and give you nothing to do. Nobody will care that you exist and your existence will be pointless.
I do not believe that you can compensate for this 100% with private endeavours and hobbies as long as you still have to show up 8 hours a day (even remotely) and "be bored".
You can try it though, and report back how it went. Why not.
Jobs like this can be found in large, highly bureaucratic but ultimately not very important government organizations/agencies and mid to large enterprises, often in niche markets and the manufacturing sector where things can move pretty slowly.
However, to actually help you, I recommend you try the opposite:
Get a high-paying job, slave for two three years, go all-in for 60+ hours a week if you have to. Only do this while you're young, no longer than 3 years. Save (and safely invest) every penny. And if you have enough money, stop immediately or phase it out over 1 year max. If you did it well enough, you'll have also built a network that will enable you to do the odd consulting gig on the side or get a more relaxing steady part-time job.
Alternatively, look into part-time office administration jobs, substitutes for people going on maternity leave etc. If you can use Word, Outlook and express yourself coherently, that will often be enough. Again, beware of the boreout.
Also, I'd really like to know what your passions are because practically all passions and hobbies can be monetized somehow (even a little). If you're into them so much that you want to do nothing else 24 hours a day, then surely you can find a way to monetize them. Even if you're into sleeping all day, there are ways to get paid for that ;-)
"practically all passions and hobbies can be monetized somehow (even a little)"
I disagree strongly. This is a dangerous advice. I've been watching this from the sidelines and yes, someone can get a trickle down that does not even buy you a cup of coffee. But revenue streams beyond that? Highly non-trivial, especially in the niche-hobbies (of which there seem to be an infinite amount of them). Not all things worth doing, are monetizable in my experience (or my experience is horribly skewed).
You could be right. I don't know what particular example you're thinking about, so I can't really debate you on the substance of the matter.
However, I've seen people monetize the craziest things (and quite well at that). The more niche, the more money even. People pay good money for the most unbelievable things. The biggest issue is more likely to be market inefficiencies, i.e. bringing buyers and sellers together. But I almost guarantee you that somewhere out there is someone willing to pay a ton of money for that one weird problem you can solve for him with your niche skill or interest.
Apart from the difficulties of finding that person or audience though, I'd be curious to hear what things you've been thinking of that are dangerous or impossible to monetize in a way that allows you to humanly subsist at least.
The difference with a hobbyist and the entrepreneur is that the entrepreneur is motivated to follow the market, whereas the hobbyist is motivated by their inner passion for their hobby and hopes the market finds them.
If the hobbyist and the market should meet?
There is a very good but also complex set of reasons why creative professionals stereotypically are not very well off and have poor labor conditions.
Agree it's not impossible to create something out of nothing when you are not motivated by following the market, but also very unusual.
Absolutely. For example, it's very easy to work hard writing and make very little. (Writing in the technical space can be valuable but it's mostly by boosting reputation and therefore the ability to make money through other routes.)
Ditto for music and many other things that often fall into the category of things that lots of talented people are happy to do for free.
Intentionally exaggerating/misinterpreting you here, but you can also turn this around and say someone's dead inside because they have to turn to a job to get contentment/fulfillment.
What can or can't fulfill someone in their specific situation is highly dependent on their inner constitution, their peers and societal and cultural environment. In ancient Greece being free from menial duties and being able to freely engage in science, philosophy and politics was regarded as the highest state of existence.
I know someone who had to show up 8 hours a day for 20 years without anything to do and he's practically the most energetic person I know (bordering on annoying actually), spending time with family, gardening, traveling and collecting memories.
In practice you probably want a healthy middle way of work and leisure and OP presumably wants the focus on leisure which I can understand :P...
Also, monetizing your hobby to a degree that you can be financially dependent on it causes it to no longer be hobby by definition (more like hobby-equivalent work)
>I know someone who had to show up 8 hours a day for 20 years without anything to do
Well, now don't keep us in suspense! What was his job? How did he get it? That's kinda the point of this whole thread ;-)
Also, yes to your part about people being dead inside because of their job (these exist as well and there life basically ends when they retire... can be equally sad).
As for the ancient Greeks, well, that's a bit like saying "Bill Gates is free from menial work". Yes, true in theory but with little to no relevance for our daily lives because his (and equally the ancient Greeks') circumstances are just so different. In case of the Greeks, their system was heavily based on slave labor. A comparable level of freedom nowadays (10+ full-time domestic staff plus people who dress you and carry you around in a litter) requires you to be a multi-millionaire and at least slightly deranged ;-)
Also, it's not like they did nothing all day. Studying, philosophy, military and political careers were incredibly important in ancient Rome and Greece, and I am certain that many an aristocratic young man would rather have spent time in the bath houses or on the forum than practising Greek declensions with his "Paedagogi" (teacher slaves) ;-)
The next time we (all) might have a chance to get close to ancient levels of "dolce far niente" for a majority of people, is probably in a post-scarcity society with fully autonomous robot assistants (if they don't murder us first). Sure would be nice to focus on wine and philosophy all day, no doubt about it.
> Well, now don't keep us in suspense! What was his job?
How did he get it?
Abridged version: ~1970s Germany, vocational training as welder, employed at Hoesch (later ThyssenKrupp), well-paid factory job.
He later lost his position due to automation, became depressed and was placed into a "Sozialbetrieb" (this can mean many things. In this case it's a workshop meant for the disabled to ensure means to participate in the workforce. Big firms like ThyssenKrupp have to have such an offering by law).
Well turns out, there wasn't all that much to do there so he could listen to the radio and nap or the like (thanks social democrats). Today he's getting a pretty good pension (unfairly one might say, especially in the face of Germany's pressured pension system).
His situation is definitely an anomaly even in sort-of socio-economically egalitarian Germany, but he's thriving :) Note: He's a very different sort of person than I am or the typical HN user presumably is.
> The next time we (all) might have a chance to get close to ancient levels of "dolce far niente" for a majority of people, is probably in a post-scarcity society with fully autonomous robot assistants
There's plenty of nuance in the space between mass-precarity and mass-decadence. It's a question of societal will and organisation to enable common guaranteed standards of living (I know this is heresy in the US). It's definitely possible already, though it may come with its own set of problems regarding e.g. fair distribution of welfare or disincentivising self-improvement to some degree, that may have to be kept in check via other means.
In modern times essentially all of the important battles that kept humanity in the dirt have been won (think antibiotics, fertilizer, energy, machinery, communication, logistics).
Everything that comes now is restrained not by lack of knowledge or technology but by human psychology, behavior, politics and social dynamics.
Thank you for your advice. I do not have it in me anymore to get the high paying job and go all-out, unfortunately. I understand the really boring jobs would probably lead to depression and not much else. I think a good alternative path would be to look for real jobs but as a part-timer. I'm not sure if there are any ~20 hours a week dev jobs, but that would most likely be enough.
I'm passionate about playing a competitive sport. I could spend my days practicing / working out / thinking about tactics. Unfortunately I am not a world class athlete so money is not an option there :). I'd just be happy having enough time to go as high as I can on the local tournament scene.
Well, you could teach that sport to others (as a part-time coach for amateurs, for example), you could create training videos and materials, write books or a blog with tactics, tricks etc. If you're not the only person in the world into this sport, I am sure there are many other people who share your passion and would be happy to pay you for materials or training as they themselves will only have limited time to invest in it. You don't have to be a pro yourself. If you're not a total amateur, there will always be people who know less about it than you, are new to the sport etc. and they can be your audience. Also, consider looking at organizations adjacent to that sport or sports in general. There are a lot, from youth outreach NGOs to sport centers, to clubs where you could work as an assistant or clerk but still your work would have to do with the sport itself. Again, this is unlikely to make you rich but might be an option to work in an area you like. And who knows, even if you won't be a world-class athlete yourself, you might manage, teach or support one, that would be pretty great as well, no?
I understand and accept what you say about the high-paying all-in job option. It's not for everybody and can also be damaging.
If you want part-time dev jobs, of course they're out there's lots of competition and not necessarily a lot of job safety. The lowest end are gig economy jobs (like Upwork and Fiverr) but again, buyers there are sometimes also looking for an easy, reliable, part-time go-to guy for regular jobs that maybe have a unique skill set. You can always give it a try. Chances are that you will not make enough money doing this (most likely) to live comfortably in a highly developed country (I don't know how to express this in the "political correct" way du jour but you know what I mean). However, the advantages are guaranteed 100% remote and no long-term commitment, so if you find something better, you can always take it.
Wishing you all the best. And seriously, do report back some time how it works out for you. I'm sure many have the same dream and wonder "what if..."
But it's one thing to train and play your favourite sport, and a completely different thing to be a coach for others. It does not follow that he will get the same satisfaction from the latter. And financially it would be probably much worse than IT.
I'm familiar with the 'boreout' you mention, and have experienced it in a previous job myself. However, I think it's a lot more manageable to get around that in a remote environment. Obviously it depends on the job and the amount of (micro)management, but there are definitely plenty of hobbies that I can think of that would still have me available and close to my desk so that I could appear online when necessary.
This is a bit off topic, but I like to add an observation. You assume in your post that someone could go all out on something the person doesn't care about. For me, that is not possible. Most likely also not for OP. But the possibility seems self evident, giving your post. I assume you are a person high in consciousness IRL? In any case, people are truly different from time to time.
I accept what you're saying, and thank you for this observation. I always find it interesting to hear different perspectives.
That being said, I don't believe you ;-) (I say this with affection). You'd be surprised what people are capable of doing if economic needs require them to do it. People will do every cleaning job they can get or wait tables if it means they won't starve to death or get closer to their dream job as an movie star...
I've often thought about this and I would encourage others to try and adopt this mindset: There are always jobs you can do, even very menial ones, if you really need the money (and no, I don't mean prostitution). But knowing that you always have options, can and will help you a lot, especially when times get tough.
It means you will never have to give up, even if you're desperate. You will never have to put up with being abused by your boss for years. You will never have to starve. If you scrub enough toilets (or do the equivalent developer job) to make enough money to buy a suit and travel to another city and try something new, well, you can do it. I think this is pretty central to the American dream, actually. Nobody's saying it's easy. But you absolutely CAN if you really have to!
Just a minor addition respectively counter data point for you: I've tried to force myself to invest more time in my tech job and relevant side projects. I didn't care about any of it and couldn't do it. Burned out quickly. Only way I can stay in tech is to have enough recharge time. (Which are oftentimes activities that can look like work to others, as long as I have intrinsic motivation doing these things it'll increase my energy level).
Some people can work at peak performance no matter what. These people have, in my experience, a hard time understanding those who cannot. They are also rare and tend to clime the career ladder quickly. You might be one of them.
If my life would be at stake, things would look differently. But I've seen people who work in survival mode for years and years. They pay a heavy toll. Nothing I'd recommend (or could fake myself into believing, either your survival depends on something or not. My tech job doesn't need me going all out ).
> You will be very happy for the first few months, being able to browse HN, news sites and Reddit all day while nobody cares about what you do, nobody wants your input, you've got no responsibilities other than pressing a button, writing a half-page report once a month and saying "yes" on the rare occasion someone asks you something in passing. But it will get old quick.
I strongly disagree, it totally depends on the type of person you are. I have a brother-in-law which is into that kind of job (not tech-related at all, he is a concierge. And he is totally fine with this, he lives for his hobbies (surfing, hiking, snowboarding etc), lives with the minimum amount of money he needs (basically to buy gear if it breaks and gas for the van) and... he is happy!
It makes you rethink about life sometimes, but I do know for example that I would die of "boreout" for sure. But not everybody.
One of the things that springs to mind is coding emails.
Once you have a template that works in 99% of email readers you've done the majority of the work.
The downside is getting clients that need emails coded. This means you need to do some work to connect with people and get the ball rolling.
I used to do this kind of thing many years ago for an advertising agency/publishing house. They had 5 magazine brands they ran and each of them would need a bi-weekly email to be sent to their newsletter subscribers.
Their designer would send through a psd, I'd code it up and load it into their mailing list software.
At the same time I was doing wordpress based "catalog" websites for them, also minimal interfacing with the client and the same "psd => html" workflow.
If you can get the energy to talk to an advertising agency or publishing house there may be something minimal that you can do for them.
Senior DevOps Engineer at a mid-sized, stagnant californian “startup”, roughly $150k salary.
Seriously. My last three jobs were at companies which were 10-15 years old, had burned through $75m-$150m in VC and had flat revenues of $12-$15m for years.
These are my bread and butter. I “work” remotely from utc+2. Theoretically I am working from home, but pre-covid 60% of my time I was “working” from cafes around Europe/the middle-east 1-3 hours per day.
The rest of my time I was being a tourist, getting stoned, having flings or mm-transit to my next destination.
The thing about companies this size is either you have a good sized team managing a medium worklod and very low expectations.
The long timers are milking it to make up for their worthless stock options. The executive positions are revolving doors (all 3 companies saw at least 2 ceo turnovers during my term).
At my last job all real work was done in Belarus and Russia. As the team lead, my entire job was ended up being tidying up / linting / deduplicating our terraform code base while giving the actual engineers encouragement and architectural advice. It even gave me a reason to party in minsk and make more friends.
I get fired every 1.5 - 2 years, but I spend like a poor homeless backpacker and my home base is in the 3rd world, so at age 40 I already have enough saved to retire.
I used to be a hard workimg, diligent, ambitious engineer working startups I believed in, but getting screwed over by 2 consecutive YC startups made me look at employers as nothing more than a short-term atm.
These positions are easy to get if you use the right search criteria, actually know your shit enough to project confidence, and if you’re extroverted enough to have built anreally large network of colleagues who like you.
Look over YC’s list of companies from ‘11-14. Specifically look for the companies which are still around, aren’t unicorns but haven’t failed, and use the tech stack you know best.
Don’t be afraid to shamelessly inflate your resume to do this. Your employers will lie to you, their customers and their investors with a sociopathic calm demeanor. There’s no reason not to do the same.
Nice, living the dream. You're an inspiration. I find devops related jobs the most interesting. I do feel good helping fellow devs and setting up robust infrastructure but don't care about the companies themselves or the useless apps.
What's the best way to inflate your resume? For instance I'm a mid-approaching-senior fullstack Java engineer. Just say what you did, but embellish so that you seem like you can really build out and maintain big functionality?
Enterprise Architecture. Your whole job is to maintain spreadsheets and diagrams that don’t change often, attend meetings with solution architects to work through integration points, and draft reference architecture patterns. You need to understand a lot about tech and a little about business and it does tend to be a more senior role. The pay is awesome though, and I do maybe 5 hours of real work a week.
Pure technology work of the form you describe is the realm of offshore. It has very little value to the company so they generally aren’t willing to pay for someone in a country with a high cost of living. If you do find a job like this, expect it to be offshored when the company wises up. EA is a good mix of needing a technical background but also being in a position that is highly variable by company and not easily outsourced.
Find a big corporation. The amount of income per unit of work is proportional to the size of the corporation and how 'evil' it is.
Also, the % of all company shares which is owned by the executives and board members is also a major factor. The less 'skin in the game' the executives have, the more money you will get as an employee for the least amount of work.
Also whether or not the company has an industry monopoly has a huge impact as well.
A multi-billion dollar corporation which is considered 'evil' (e.g. gambling, corporate finance, advertising, big tech, ...) and whose executives and board members don't own many shares and which has a monopoly over its industry is going to pay much more for a lot less work because nobody cares about the company's mission. The company is just one giant piggy bank for everyone to tap into. Everyone's goal is just to extract more money out of the company, often executives will pay low level employees more because then it allows them to also pay themselves more without raising alarms (helps to keep employees happy so that nobody questions it).
When you have few executives and board members who own company shares, it means that you can factor out the shareholders from the equation. At the end of the day, the shareholders are the only ones who exert any real pressure on the employees to deliver and if they are not well represented on the company board, then the employees will not feel any pressure - Everyone will just do as little as they think they can get away with.
I've worked for companies like this in the past. One of them was a big multi-billion dollar gambling corporation with a monopoly and paid really well and I barely did any work. I literally took 1 week to implement something which could have been done in half a day and managers only gave me positive feedback. I was one of the most efficient employees there.
I spent most of the day thinking about what I would be having for lunch, checking my emails, social media, watching YouTube videos, listening to music, sharing videos with colleagues, talking with colleagues and I could always go to the restaurant for lunch because it was very well paid. I often had 2 hour lunch with colleagues. Also, it was a contract position, so if I didn't feel like coming to work one day, I would just not go (just send an email in the morning) and nobody ever complained. A colleague once came to work in his pajamas, obviously he had been taking drugs the night before and nobody said anything at the meeting.
I was laid off at the tail end of 2019, a mere week after I returned from my honeymoon. No explanations: money was tight, the higher ups wanted someone out, and I was the only remote worker. At that point I had been there longer than anyone else but the bosses. I was flabbergasted.
Then the pandemic hit. With everything going on, I was unable to get interested in any kind of IT position. I've always felt the need to work on interesting projects where I could make a change, somewhere, for someone. Just not this time.
I just can't. I know I can do great work, I just don't want to deal with everything else: most of the people, the stupid and arbitrary deadlines, the fabricated emergencies, the shifting priorities. I just want a task queue, a reasonable paycheck and being left alone.
So... idk man, you can spill the beans and let anyone who could find it useful get some of that advice.
Yes, many jobs are working on projects one isn't interested in. It's a job one has to do ...
However to me it seems you're trying to make it worse.
What about trying to find a job in a field you are passionate about? Assuming you are an experienced software developer you should be able to analyse problems and solving problems. These are qualities not only in software.
There's a large field of things one can do outside a job, which can be interesting. Be it with a NGO or some other area. Such jobs won't pay much in money, but they can give you a purpose. Instead of writing code for solving a problem which you don't care about solve problems you find relevant.
Maybe also only for a year a two and then see how things are going.
As someone who has had their past > 1/2 decade of work thrown out, (across multiple companies and projects!), due to low cost sensitivity on the company's part, or just poor planning, I at least halfway admire your question, if not totally admire it.
One recommendation, based on an exceedingly small sample size, would be to search for a non-profit with an outdated tech stack. Seek as many indicators as possible to suggest "lack of push."
Also, I noticed while contemplating this response, that indeed.com appeared to auto-complete "laid back" for me as I was typing it. :-)
> For example, consider an internal travel expense reporting form. Across a company with 2,000 employees, that might save 5,000 man-hours a year (at an average fully-loaded cost of $50 an hour) versus handling expenses on paper, for a savings of $250,000 a year. It does not matter to the company that the reporting form is the world’s simplest CRUD app, it only matters that it either saves the company costs or generates additional revenue.
Find a company that is as less ambitious as you. A lot of "work load" in traditional tech sector businesses comes from either the ambitions of the company or ambitions of the higher-ups (nothing wrong with either btw). There are plenty of non-sexy, service-sector, small businesses out there that wouldn't mind having a dependable IT resource. But even if you found somebody like this, I wouldn't be forthright with this motive. Nobody would hire a self-professed slacker.
Finally, a question that I am an expert on. I'm currently working around 1-2 hours a day and getting paid $700/day.
I share the same goals and thoughts of work as you, i'm trying to do as little work as possible so I can spend 80% of my time on my own projects and startup.
As mentioned by others I think the sweet spot is a large company with lots of process that is also dysfunctional and profitable (the unicorn). This seems to breed individuals who get beaten down by the processes and eventually succumb to the realisation that it can't be changed so why bother trying - just enjoy the gravy train.
Ensure you have knowledge about a specific area and that you can be be helpful to others when they ask questions. Try to pick the low hanging fruit when work does come up and over estimate the effort and time involved.
The dysfunction of a place muddies the water for who is responsible for what work so you can easily direct peoples requests to other teams.
Contract or perm? I've personally always been a contractor and it's worked for me, but maybe perm role would make it more difficult to them to fire you. But really, I wouldn't want to be in a job where they wanted me gone.
Which area of tech? I don't think this actually matters too much, it's more about the company and culture.
Go into academia - not on the teaching side. I highly recommend being a software developer in a non science/non-tech University faculty (so you're not involved in research coding). The Arts or Humanities may be ideal, especially if you're reporting to a non-technical manager. It checks a number of your boxes:
* low salary
* low expectations. Dean wants a new checkbox on the site? Tell them it'll take a week or 2. They won't care - unless money is on the line
I know right now you want to focus on your hobbies/passion and you don't need much and you don't care about anything else... I don't know what age are you but I would suggest that, while try to enjoy your hobbies/passion as much as you can, think and plan for the future, and what a dire situation you would find yourself if you're in a low paying dead end job for 10 or 20 years... You'd be basically digging a hole for yourself that would be difficult to get out.
While I think it's totally fair to be in a position where you don't care about the work, I'd also encourage you to look for workplaces that seek to provide additional compensation in the form of additional flexibility, freedom, and your time rather than just in additional money.
The company I started is a software consultancy where we try and focus on giving everyone a 20-hour work-week and consider that a full-time job. We're remote first, and work mostly when your schedule allows (sometimes we have to have a meeting, or some task requires a bit of collaboration). Our absolute monetary compensation isn't what you could get full time at a FAANG, but is designed to be a full time job.
We've written about this core philosophy here: https://www.apsis.io/blog/2015/04/23/work-sustainably, and I've slowly seen more companies that have started to take this same approach toward viewing employee freedom, flexibility, and mental health as an important part of compensation.
So, my advice is try and find a company that views your freedom, flexibility, and mental health as a first class concern. They exist (even if they aren't the norm), and it can be a very satisfying way to get work done, earn enough to live comfortable, and also have other passions that are your primary focus.
I'd say we tick _most_ of the points on your list (it might be more like 3-4 hours in the morning, then chilling, and we do have high expectations for the quality of the work). Just another idea for something to look for.
> Unfortunately, I require shelter, calories and hobby
> materials. Thus the need for some kind of job.
Actually, you don't need a job. You need someone to give you hobby materials and then to give you money for doing your hobby. If your hobby happens to be electronics, C++, or grilling hamburgers then this will be much easier than if you have more traditional hobbies.
Find a job that you enjoy, and you will never work a day in your life.
Anybody that is sending you hates etc, well yeah it shouldn’t be a surprise on this website. I hope you don’t get any death threats. But let me tell you amongst all the haters, you are not alone. In the words of the Misfits… “Walk among us” (Little punk humor)
I kind of feel like being a web dev/programmer is like being a waiter in Hollywood. I can program, it pays really well right now and in high demand, but it not my career choice. But I’m always looking for my passion.
In 2013, I used to work at a small business that did videos for jobs. Instead of a job description, they made a job video. (I know crazy) I was the only developer, IT, sysadmin. I reported to the owners, who were nontech. After about 6 months I cleaned up all the crappy code (from professional developers of course). Reduced the insanity from the account managers and streamlined some processes. After that, there were days I didn’t get an email from anybody for weeks at a time. Because I took the time to do it right and reduce human friction. I respond to “emergencies” and kept the system up and running. After I had proven my knowledge and ability to keep the system running etc. I essentially became untouchable, it also helped that no one else knew what I did.
After that, I didn’t do much, work on side projects, exercised in the middle of the day, etc. I left in 2015 and my code was still in place in 2018.
In 2020, I finally threw in the web dev towel! (Working with Drupal and Drupal developers finally killed it)
Now I write Stock/Options/Futures for a family office / hedgefund, which is my true passion.
Honestly I don't think you'll get a lot of hate for this. I would never want a job like what you're describing, but people are different and want different things. The thing you're going to have to square is "being done in 2 hours in the morning then chilling would be perfect" with pretty much any full-time employment.
Despite what a lot of people here will say, the vast majority of FT jobs do not pay you to do a set of tasks, and you're done when you're done. You get paid for (most of the time) 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. So if you're looking for a 10-hour-a-week gig, you're either going to have to be a consultant, find a diamond-studded unicorn willing to pay you a salary for 10h/wk, work part-time, or lie.
If you want to be a consultant, 10 hours a week of billed work will take 20+ hours a week to get, especially at the start. But at software dev rates you could still pull in $50-60k if you billed hourly, more if you could bill at the project level. You also typically need to be much more involved in the end-to-end product than you would if you were sticking to back-end FTE stuff.
One of the challenges you will face will be being good enough to be able to work independently and without much oversight, while staying out of the leadership/management tracks.
You will have to learn to walk the line of being very reliable, but not over-delivering.
This is important because I think you have two primary options:
1. Aim for a full time low compensation with a job that you can easily do in 10 hours a week. You tend to still have to be "available" for meetings and stuff throughout the week, so this is less ideal.
2. Aim for a part time high compensation job and negotiate your availability/workload. For example, aim for the top end of your salary, but ask to work only 2-3 days a week for 40-60% of the salary. This is hard to get. Not a lot of places will go for this; they want team players working more than 40 hours a week. Some places do, you just have to ask, and be able to actually sell them on the idea.
The real answer is 'passive income', but that's a different ballgame. If you're just trying to work less, I would do one of the above (and I have done both personally).
Is there any reason you are limiting your option to a job only? If there is no particular reason and if Your ultimate goal is to earn minimum required income for least amount of effort, there are other options than a job, specially something which can generate passive income over time with minimum to no maintenance efforts. Some of such options which I can think of are:
1. Create online courses
2. Create a SaaS application for niche, do some online marketing to get potential customer. indiehackers.com , solopreneur related subreddits has good resources on this.
3. Do online gigs as per your convenience and skills on platforms like fiverr, linkedin etc.
4. Publish regular freemium newsletter for your area of expertise on platforms like substack, medium etc. Newsletters has gotten lot of traction these days and good source of income for indie developers.
While you will be expected to work off-hours. So much of the job is about keeping things humming along nicely, and when that's happening, nobody has much expectation from you.
You can slowly automate the time-consuming segments of your job. And most of the time, the automation isn't necessarily difficult to do, as most platforms have API endpoints designed for programmatic interaction.
On the developer-side, you could find a job maintaining a product for a smaller company. It will mostly be DevOps work, but with some bug fixes or minor enhancements thrown in. This would be a much more visible job than DevOps. And if you don't really care about the product, it might not be a good fit.
I have a former colleague who has been working devops/web site maintenance for a Sewage Pipe Manufacture* for going on 13 years now. Last I talked to him, he loved it. $80k is plenty to live on, he has no commute and got to watch his kids grow up.
* Not really, but it's an equally obscure, but very specific industry.
"devops" is really hit or miss. I used to do devops consulting and all I saw were people who had no idea what they were doing and so they constantly had fires to put out. There is no time to fix and automate when you are putting out fires all day.
Yeah, the "small company" aspect is pretty key here. Their requirements tend to be much more modest as they can't really afford to be moving fast and breaking things. So once you have a solid environment stood up, it is unlikely to change meaningfully for a while.
Think a job that requires maintaining a LAMP built in the mid 00s. Once you write scripts to install the product on a VM, get database backups automated, and set up alerting, you're basically done. Every once in a while, you do some security updates on VMs, maybe perform the migration from Ubuntu x.04LTS to x.04LTS once every few years.
As far towards this endpoint as you can tolerate, target being the only tech hire in a certain tech discipline, ideally not working on the main point of the tech there, w/ low outsourcing abilities (i.e. a MSP won't take your job),
- do it at a smaller, non-tech company, where tech is important enough to be a part of it but not the prime time.
- do it on a engineering team for agtech or one of these smaller tech cos with niche purposes out west/midwest.
- do it in QA, IT, cybersec, all can be single hires. Ability to find yourself in a disastrous situation where you are on point to fix it are higher, but you're also playing the odds that likely can work for you mid term at least.
- do it at certain Fortune 500s, which often doesn't really know what they wants from engineers and will often use their engs as people who plaster code over whitelabel apps from vendors, and blame the vendor for all issues.
- consider your use of custom infrastructure/hacks, such that you're hard to replace
I used to be a founder and got burned out when building my last company.
I'm now working at a dysfunctionnal 300+ppl company as a freelance developer.
I've been in full remote since before the pandemic, I'm charging 900€ a day, 22 days a month in a country where the median salary is 3k€.
I pay around half in taxes and keep half for myself.
The company is disorganized, talents flee to other companies in a pretty competitive market so I'm not too worried about my job. I'm well spoken and I can explain my job to my managers.
Projects get spin up and shut down for legal reasons (ie: a deal is made with a retailer in Asia, then the deal is shut down because the retailer merges with a competitor), I just get reassigned, work a few months and then move on.
The company I work for is attached to a huge european retail company. The retail company pumps cash into the company I work for every year to keep it alive.
I log my daily activities as part of a personal project, I usually spend 2/3 hours doing deep work, in the morning, after our daily stand up meeting. In the afternoon I take walks with my wife, read, work on personal stuff, but stay available on Slack just in case someone pings me.
I havent worked more than 16 hours a week for the past 4 months according to my daily logs. I only had to work really hard for a couple of months about a year ago when a project had to be shipped and the senior dev in charge of it left without warning
It's a very unusual situation to be in with such a high salary but it's fairly easy to find a gig like this as a freelancer in a large group / a bank while raking in 620€ a day before taxes.
I wish you all the best, I probably won't do this all my life but I'm enjoying it while it lasts after spending the last 3 years working 11 hours a day on average, week-end included.
I've worked at Amazon in the past for almost 3 years. You have to put in some initial time investment of 6 - 12 months to learn everything about your job. After that it's not very hard to coast and fly under the radar. I still have lots of friends working at Amazon who are not working more 10-15 hours a week at the most.
At least here in the UK (think NHS back office / government jobs) I can tell you, it's sort of unbelievable how little attention anyone pays to work getting done. At times I seriously looked around me, thinking "wow, nobody does anything, nobody admits it, and we are all in on it".
Fair word of warning, I didn't go into it wanting little work. I went into it wanting to accomplish something / get some work done and it nearly drove me crazy over the year I spent there.
There were many weeks, where by the end of the week I wasn't sure whether I had done any work at all. There will be meetings, which will take up most of your time, but outside of that, by the end, when I had given up on trying to achieve anything, I literally sat there coding all day and nobody batted an eye.
There was some remote working ability, which by now, thanks to COVID, will probably have increased a fair bit.
I completely understand this. I spent 10+ years trying to "save the world" just to learn that the world doesn't want to be saved. The problem is that most companies (the big ones especially) are [inherently pathological][gervais principle]. The more you try to solve actual problems the more resistance you encounter. I solved this problem by becoming a contractor. Now I work for the same big companies but I don't get frustrated because I don't have a stake in it and there is no career progression either. I get paid much more and the scope is small. If I finish my tasks in 2 hours nobody cares and everybody is happy. That's the sad reality.
How about instead of trying to dig a hole somewhere, you find a job where you can provide great value on very little hours?
I moonlight as a consultant, and I generally work for whatever the going rate is for a decent hourly hire in the space. I do web-apps as it is my specialty, and select projects with familiar tech / business logic so that I'm productive quickly.
What I do differently then most is that I invest time up front to understand the company, and understand the why behind the projects I have to do. It allows me to spend a lot of time shaping my work instead of implementing. I'll try to find better alternatives, question requirements, etc. I do it in good faith, trying to uncover unsound specs and find 80/20 solutions, which in the context of companies outsourcing dev work to random shops has a ton value.
It doesn't make the projects themselves more interesting, but this approach is challenging in itself and it keeps me on my toes.
Once I've figured the how, I get grinding. I do long, 8-12h crunch sessions, fasting and fully in the zone. During each of those I can do an amount of work that is perceived to take about a week.
I do most of those up front (avoid last minute surprises), take some notes on some of the roadblocks I encounter in case someone asks for an update at any point, and set the project aside. I then turn it in a bit before the expected deadline (which is sometimes explicit, sometimes not).
Ethics are hard but truth is I'm not even ashamed of it and have on multiple occasions admitted to doing that to managers / execs when I felt they were open-minded people. They still get excellent value for their money and I get paid incredibly well for my time. Win-win.
The alternative would be to try to charge 200-300$ an hour, but companies generally don't want to deal with the perceived risk and are very reluctant to pay consultants higher than their most expensive employees .
When I first started working on software I was fortunate enough to get exposed to working municipal contracts. One example was building out a payment gateway and website for the LA county coroner and medical examiner. This included making a small e-commerce site for their gift shop (I don’t know why they had a gift shop).
A friends father, who was very involved in local government, told me with regards to government work, “failure is unacceptable but indefinite delay is ideal.”
As long as you are in no immediate hurry to get paid, these sorts of local/state gov projects can be quite lucrative and require very little day to day effort to get them done. The hardest part is learning how to navigate the RFP process but it’s really just about reading the rules and proposals posted. The reason government is often overcharged for mediocre software comes down to this deeply flawed procurement process.
I once looked at a loft for sale in a Midwestern city. The owners were moving to some Latin American paradise, according to the realtor. I spent some time researching and discovered they were a husband and wife team winning contracts for utter shit municipal websites. I recall thinking ‘that can’t last when anyone can build a Wordpress site’ but I may have been quite wrong.
Yeah, good gig if you can get it. If you like hardware you can buy surplus computer equipment from state and municipal governments. These are like i5 dells for $10 or so a machine. You can load them up with 32G of RAM and a 500G SSD and resell them.
At one stop in my career I was at a waterfall enterprise company in production deployment support.
We literally took hand written change requests, manually deployed them step by step after taking careful backups and ensuring that at any point we could revert...and that was pretty much it.
We had to check the paperwork to make sure there was a rollback plan. We had to investigate if there were weird server issues happening. We did the deployments in the middle of the night, 2-3am and were required to be on call.
Because of the after hours and on call schedule, we were really just twiddling our thumbs when we weren’t hunting down an actual issue.
I used the spare time to keep learning new stuff, automating monitoring that I used personally, etc. You needed enough experience to know how to put out fires in a lot of legacy environments but other than that it was probably the easiest job I’ve ever had.
Hi, this is me. I do extremely little at my job. I get paid around $100k which isn't a ton by FAANG standards but it's comfortable for my two bedroom house I'm renting. I drive a cheap car and eat out frequently but I'm pretty frugal. I'll never be able to afford actually buying a house where I live but most youngerish people can't either (average is around $750k).
I was a developer for many years and absolutely hated having a permanent record of my productivity via commits. I hated that I couldn't just fuck around and do nothing on a given day without there being a glaring spot tarnishing my commit history. I hated the lack of diversity in what I was doing. I hated building shit that was pointless and stupid. And I've been programming since I was a teenager and I'm sick of it.
The advice I've seen here but maybe not in the exact same words that I agree with: do a tech job in a non-tech company. But specifically NOT programming. And make sure it's a really tech-stupid company. This all describes my current employer.
I'm an "architect" for my company's very small tech team. The most time consuming aspect of my job is sitting on zoom meetings, of which I have maybe 5 hours a week worth. My work outside those meetings is at most another 5 hours with a few exceptions. I've had many weeks where it was 0 hours outside meetings, and it's rare that I ever talk in the meetings I sit in on. I mostly have to build out the occasional documentation, send some emails, and generally just check boxes to make sure shit isn't going to break. I definitely needed my development background to get this job and I do use my dev knowledge frequently, but you could be the world's shittiest developer and still do my job just fine.
I really want to get paid more. I want to be able to actually buy a home. Maybe in a couple-few years I will start applying to some other place but only if it pays $150k+, and given how fucking little do I my job I think it would be really hard to sell myself for a role like that unless I just lie my ass off.
Work in government, education, or non-profit. I've worked in 2 of those and was regularly pressured by management to work less hard lest I make everyone look bad. My first job out of college for a non-profit (only company that would hire me) involved about 30 minutes a day of actual work.
I worked at a startup for over a year. You would think the hours would be crazy but it was the opposite. This was a semiconductor company and I am in physical design.
The list price of our tools cost over $1 million per license. We had a special deal for the first year for extremely cheap licenses. We taped out our chip and then the management spent the next year trying to get investment and/or sell the company.
During that time other people were developing improvements but I had no licenses to do anything. I attended 2 meetings a week. We were already working remote 60% of the time. I basically did a lot of hiking, reading, and projects at home.
This lasted over a year until I lost faith in the company and found another job. There are people still there 2 years later including two who do very little.
Government developer roles can be sort of like this, it just depends on the details.
The general idea is that you're expected to fulfill a fixed set of responsibilities, which might be challenging for the first year or so. But as time rolls on, a decent employee can usually automate those things.
Typically you're just ignored, no one knows what you do except your boss. If you try to expand outside of the original scope of job duties, you'll be seen as a troublemaker.
And there's rarely any possibility of advancement, since government never promotes developers to the executive level, and advancement within the 'technology group' is usually predicated on your history of procurement, budgeting, and personnel management.
The difficult bit is getting that remote job, but hopefully that's changing due to COVID.
A common path to such a career is to have deep expertise in some esoteric(or deprecated) tech stack. Cobol programmer comes to mind. You may only be asked to help once a month (or even once a year) but when they need you they really need you, and are willing to pay handsomely.
The question brings to mind this story (if anyone has a reference please provide).
A company hires a management consultant to assist with cost cutting. After spending time on-site observing the workflow, he has a meeting with a senior management and gives his recommendations. He mentions a guy who sits in his office seemingly doing nothing, and suggests they let him go. The manager says no, he's a critical member. About once a month we have a really complex problem that requires a creative solution, and he always provides one.
Sysadmin roles where you don't have to care about the product are definitely a thing, you just need to look outside the tech industry - think low-tech manufacturing and service industries. There are a lot of roles out there that can be low or no touch, as long as the email is flowing and the printer is online, although a lot of those kinds of places might not get the concept of remote work even a little bit.
If I really wanted to work as little as possible, I think what I would try to do is develop a customer base of local small businesses that aren't big enough to have their own dedicated IT person, help them get things set up, and then sell them monthly support contracts that include maintenance and some low fixed number of included hours for incidents.
Look for something that’s not really development-oriented: something like handling a process or operation that is repetitive and involves computers. Then use your development skills to automate it so you don’t have to do much except press a button or run a program.
I was responsible for a process which involved looking some data up on a specific system, copy-pasting that into a document, and ticking a cell in a spreadsheet as “done”. Used to take about 3 minutes per item - which is not much. I scripted it all using python-mechanize and some APIs in the office suite, and now it takes 20 seconds of computer time per item - but crucially, zero seconds of my time.
Your investment up front is some time learning the manual process and a bit of work to write the automation, then you can coast along happily.
First off, I think the primary objective should be creating value for the company you work for. Bums in seats, lines of code written does not always produce value.
I think any position where you can automate away your daily tasks, and that's an expectation of the job, is great. There is no shortage of companies that maybe run on legacy software that requires a ton of effort to keep things running. You'd be surprised how often companies do things just because that's how they've always done it.
The other great option, which is what I did, is to become an important part of the team, and start negotiating for shorter work weeks.
I think you can find what you're looking for if you combine these strategies, and nobody would fault you on it.
Let's assume that we, like our employers, are rational economic actors seeking to maximize the returns we receive from our capital and labor. Then our primary objective in job with static hours and static compensation would be to expend the bare amount of effort needed to retain employment. Creating value for the company would be an auxiliary objective in support of retaining employment.
You and the OP seem to be basing your arguments off different assumptions.
If your passions generate anything you're comfortable sharing, set up a Patreon for them. Post some form of it online with a link. Do not promise to do anything for your patrons you're not already doing. Do not make any plans that depend on this money, treat it as extra cash to spend on fun things. Including whatever your passion is.
If it starts getting to where it can pay your rent, then congratulations, your job is now your passion, if you want it to be. Or maybe it's just a bigger toy budget on top of your day job.
This is how I managed to make my day job "wandering about a gorgeous city with my laptop, spending a few hours every day drawing stuff I want to draw".
Is the problem that your work has no meaning? There are plenty of nonprofits that are slugging away using inefficient processes that could benefit from a developer that makes them custom software. Maybe there's one out there that aligns with your hobbies?
How about something like making some open source or similar projects related to your hobby and having a patreon that people can support you with? Would depend how large and generous the potential audience is whether that would be enough to sustain you.
I'd caution against the non-profit direction! Some nonprofits that are inefficient aren't because they haven't discovered means to optimize processes or systems, but rather because of cultural issues...In addition to this add the low pay, plus lots of constant, hot air talk about whatever space the nonprofit operates in. I'm sure there are nonprofits out there that are ideal, and still have a need for expertise that you might bring them...but much like all other types of businesses, there are also many crappy nonprofit orgs out there. (I'm not referring to nefarious ones, merely ones that are run poorly and would not be great places to work at per your description above.)
My company was acquired by Medallia (they’re a survey company) who want to be seen as woke and hip but actually are just a massive corporation with all of the things that come with that - dead eyed middle management, no planning, reactionary software development. I’ve seen people get away with 2-3 hours a day as a software developer without recriminations because they’re terrified of losing developers because they can’t hire enough.
I still care about what I do and I couldn’t carry on working in such a depressing environment with others putting in about 25% of my effort daily so I left. I’ve no idea how anyone can work in an environment in which no one gives a shit about what they do...
get really good at sysops/dev for legacy mainframes: AIX, etc.
get an IT job at a hospital or financial institution that has this legacy system. Install a remote access serial device. Write automations that cover most failure cases. profit (time)
My friend found an IT job in a manufacturing company. That is his way to stay a little productive and to not to stress too much. He told me to not to choose software house without its own product, because it is the worst, most stressful and full of "very important" tasks. Instead he found a job as a PHP developer in a company that produces hearts. He just do simple stuff with CSS, WordPress, PHP. He is so lazy he even did not set him self a git repository or CD pipeline. He just codes inside browser and if it works he copies it into putty in midnight commander's mcedit. For his 44 years it is a dream job.
I'm speechless as how one can dare to ask such a question publicly :)
I too decided to drop tech ambitions, life + age made my brain completely lose interest in performance but more about joy and social harmony (meaning let's make everyone happy, relaxed and make efforts for the group).
I have no answer for you but a few simple gigs did make me happier, I'd actually code to make colleagues work better.
Or part time gig at charity association. No remote work in both case but it was both calm jobs. Not easy (unloading food trucks by hand will make you sweat, but it's good sweat you know) but calm, not high pressure.
Get a job in academia. The salary is on the lower end, but they only expect you to put in your 39 hours and be done. The "product" is happy students or happy professors, who have such low expectations of school IT actually working that they are fairly easy to keep happy.
I started my career in Academia (as a student) but I worked with a lot of pro staff. Some of them really cared about their quality of work, and thrived because they were so much more productive than everyone else. But the everyone else's were perfectly happy too, because they came, did their work alone, and left, and no one bothered them.
This is totally 2nd hand anecdote, but I've heard stories from several people who worked at MSFT (all 10 plus years ago, so maybe it's changed) who put in a handful of hours of work per week. Still got promoted. Spent most of their time doing what ever, things like playing World of Warcraft in a competitive guild full time.
In all cases, these people ended up leaving to go to highly demanding startups, because that's what they would rather have been doing. But the point is, even at large, high paying, very successful companies there are lots of niches where you can get away with doing very little.
I interned at a startup a long time ago and met a guy who was one of the first hires at Google post-IPO. He told me that while he was there he automated all his work and was working pretty much full-time on his startup (not the one I worked at, it never took off), only coming in 1-2 hours a day to be seen in the office/reply to emails.
As others have said, working for a non-software (ideally non-computer) company is a good place to start. Pay will be relatively low, you'll have little choice about the technologies or types of programming you work on, but the pace/intensity will be very low too. If you become the expert for some in-house system written in a language or framework nobody else even heard of that can be even better as long as that system lasts. Some people have even made careers out of building such systems as contractors and then making money off them for years, but that only works for people who have no ethics.
I haven't seen anyone mention freelancing, but sounds like a good solution for you.
From my experience there are 2 approaches to freelancing.
1. work hard and hustle, get larger and larger contracts and eventually make a lot of money (>faang level).
2. work little, use freelancing websites, make a little money paid hourly but with low stress, work when you want, stop when you want etc.
This might work for you if you don't care much about money and care more about your time. Also flexible enough to decide to work a bit more during specific period (say winter) and then take a few weeks/months break when you care to (summer).
The ideal way to less work with freelancing is to get retainer contracts. Build an application for a business then charge a quarterly fee for maintenance. Maintenance is usually about an hour or two of work a month. Though I'm more in lane #1 now, I did do this for a while. I travelled a lot and probably worked 3 months/yr.
Fantastic question and something I can relate to entirely.
How many times can you write the same stuff on different PowerPoint slides? How often can you help an organisation to reorganise their marketing campaign structure (that all perform the same anyways)? How often can you reengineer the same problem over and over again and always end up with roughly the same output?
That's just all precious time down the drain. Your time is so much better invested doing things that actually make you happy: Spend time in nature, push yourself in sports activities you enjoy, discover new places around where you live, start gardening, read a bunch of books, learn how to cook, or improve your DIY skills. Whatever helps make you you - that's how we should be spending our time!
I work in IT consulting and here's what I found works for me to some extent:
1. Be knowledgable in your field of work, courteous, and command some amount of respect towards you - be there when people need you (but don't be there for them too much, see my third point),
2. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Never offer straight away to take care of stuff for people just because you know you can solve their issue. Verbally, be knowledgable yet unreachable. Compliment others on their skills and delegate right into their smothered egos, and
3. Information asymmetry. You didn't take their call because you were out for a walk - you were on another call with some client, or colleague. You've only found time to respond to their messages or e-mails late in the evening or early morning (late night or early morning e-mails / messages are a great power play in general) because you were relaxing in your backyard - this other project got super busy today so you just didn't find the time! You don't need to end the call right now because you're bored of the conversation or want to go have lunch - you need to end the call right now because there's another call you gotta jump on.
I believe a lot of people really crave interacting with folks that are both knowledgable (once they get a hold of them) and yet appear perpetually busy or overworked. Noticing this pattern and using it to your advantage is one key towards greater personal freedom.
I would heavily advise that you don't do a devops/sysadmin job. I think you'll find that your idea (probably as a software developer) of what that work entails is grossly incorrect. It has /higher/ expectations than most developer positions, because your changes has more direct impact on production with less guard rails. Career advancement possibilities and salary may not be there, but the expectations are very high, and it is usually highly involved in the product if the product is something served over a network (SaaS/Cloud).
An inhouse DBA (preferably something like SQL Server as it's quite straightforward). Get it set up/automated (back-ups etc) then the a good indicator that you are doing well is if you've nothing much to do.
Something in a financial services or similar large, bureaucratic, corporation where your job is to maintain an ancient system that everyone is afraid to change too much because all the greybeards that originally built it are gone but the company depends on it for some basic need. Note that this system will always be targeted for replacement by ambitious managers wanting to make a name for themselves but most projects will fail at the implementation stage if they get that far so you should be able to milk this cow for a fairly long time.
I find myself in the same boat as the OP. I want a job where I spend the least amount of hours per week and earn $30k per year to survive. Right now I earn closer to $150k but I routinely work 60 hours a week, and I don't get to spend any time or energy on my hobbies.
People recommend freelance but I'm honestly not good enough to work solo. People also recommend teaching, but it's the same problem again. It's like I need to spend all the scraps of my spare time learning how to be a solo dev on the side so I can leave and get a much easier job.
Be very nice. Solves their problems. Just don't tell them the time it really took you to do so. They will be happy.
Source: I had several administrations as clients in the past. They loved me because I explained everything clearly even to the less tech saavy of them, was very nice, and had a solution for everything. I loved them because they paid me for very easy work I could do blind folded when I needed to rest between hard gigs.
Just remember if you do only that, it will be soul crushing. But you have your hobbies, so you should be ok.
Job at a corporate or a company providing B2B products, a small corporate with 100-500 is most bearable. Of course, you need to proof yourself for the first half year or so. Also there are occasional crunches. Actually it can be a win-win as long as you know what you're doing. (E.g. avoid the busy work.) Corporates have a lot of strange politics going on, nobody will ever know or even care. Good luck, although I can tell you that it can still be soul-draining but I can relate to choosing a job for some time to charge up.
The bigger the company, the easiest it is to get away by doing nothing. Find a Big Corp, be nice to your boss and your colleagues, don't make waves and you can basically have an above-average-pay while being able to slack most of the time. Just look busy and work when your boss tells you so.
How do I know? Well, I've been in such a spot. I've deeply considered whether to stay until retirement being paid a lot to be bored or be less paid in a more fun job. I chose the latter but I do not judge you.
Why not be a code-ops-janitor? I'd be willing to discuss this with you, see if there's a fit and actually give you this amazing job.
If your actually average good, you could work on toil only - this would require a decent level of discipline for the team you'd be working with to select toil work that could be done in 2-3 hours. Every issue repository has a long tail of issues that never get done, some may just need closing, etc.
You'd take an all the work that never gets done, be paid for what you do and enjoy life.
Once it reaches a certain size, many tech companies grow a department called "business development". This department always seems to contain highly paid people who take a lot of meetings and promote various big ideas, but who hold no actual operational responsibility or revenue accountability. For this reason, they only tend to be fired during massive cost-cutting campaigns, because otherwise the value of their work is entirely in the eye of the beholder. They are like human Bitcoin.
Have you considered looking for data engineering jobs? Many data-focused companies seem to be looking for people to either set up pipelines and then babysit them, or to babysit pipelines designed by another engineer who has since moved on.
If you were willing to put in the time at the start getting things well designed, implemented and instrumented, I would imagine that in some places you could create the two-hours-per-day situation you're looking for, without anyone really feeling too upset about the deal.
i suggest you read 'bartleby the scrivener' by herman melville. bartleby is most famous for the scene(s) where he tells his manager 'i'd prefer not to' when asked to do basic parts of his job. the full short story is much richer than its most cited line, however, and it could be helpful for your situation. bartleby works hard at first, but then starts acting more and more eccentric, eventually sleeping overnight at his workplace. his manager is the narrator and the slow transition of his perception of bartleby is fantastically done by melville.
also in this vein, somethingawful had an ancient story about a guy who got reorg'd into a position of no responsibility that was pretty great. i can only seem to find the third installment of the series, though. like bartleby, he begins by doing good work for a while. but where bartleby's abdication of duty is intentional, driven by something like a depressive episode, somethingawful-guy's company slowly just stops asking him to do things as waves of reorgs and mergers leave him 'on the heap, but without any references' as it were. the zany antics of avoiding his hr dept are quite fun and i think the whole thing should be dramatized.
Work at Google. They seem to have many thousands of people who do very little. Just look at their product quality. The atrocious performance of
their Gmail spam filtering for example. It catches emails sent by Google itself, from Google, to people who have signed up with Google for the emails, and dumps them in the junk folder as gmail spam. Think about how bad that is. They’ve had 20 years to fix this. That’s just one example.
Clearly Google is the kind of place for a person like you.
Yep. Google likes to think they hire the best and do a lot yet they can't maintain or launch products beyond gmail, maps, and meet/chat, and that last one sucks big time. Its seriously like no one at google knows what they are doing or actually does any work at all.
It doesn't look like you don't like working but similar to everybody, we have other things we would've loved to do that doesn't generate the income.
Anyways, I always thought big companies fit the bill for this even though I've only worked in startups myself. Actually, aren't sysadmin/IT roles also often great for near nothing? I'm also thinking about doing these jobs at places like schools/universities where expectations are low.
Hmm.. I am looking for a backend developer. Don't care where you are in the world. The job is really vague at the moment as I work through it and the pay would be low as I'm starting out. Sounds almost like a good fit. What's the best way to get in contact with you?
Maintain and support existing successful products is the laziest job ever.
I know a developer who single-handedly supporting a product - like a couple of days in a month for a full-time salary. He is paid because he is available, not because he works. He led a team that built this product, then dismissed it and supporting the product from then.
Usually, it is possible in non-tech companies, where you don't really care about the domain, just ensure that everything works fine.
I would look into acquiring a service on sites like microacquire.com that generates monthly income for you. There are a few listed there that requires little to no work. Sometimes it's just 3 to 6 hours of replying to customers questions.
Of course, it doesn't come free, you have to pay for the service. But this guarantee little involvement with the product, fully remote, no boss plus you can do whatever you want the rest of the time.
Hmm... I'm looking for a backend developer. Don't care where you are in the world. The job is really vague at the moment and since it's new the pay would be on the low end. Sounds almost like a good fit. What's the best way to get in contact with you?
Ask Blind, but the common places tend to be Microsoft, big older tech companies (Cisco), and if you're ok with low TC defense/aerospace. I worked at defense and those guys would spend hours surfing the web or talking about politics at their cubes. Other is just tech at non-tech companies like retail, utilities (gas and electricity) that still have a lot of data they are coming to grips with.
I think the move is to get into something where you can be a big fish in a small pond for like a year, maybe 2, and then get a certain degree of respect/responsibility where you can delegate and coordinate. Then just skip delegating a lot of work to yourself. I have seen this happen in Ad Tech. I bet there's room in a dying behemoth like Yahoo (are they still dying though? IDK) for you to do this. Godspeed!!
Go work as Developer on some consulting company that literally do Body Rental inside banks or insurance companies. IT departments in those fields suck a lot. Often, you have to wait months for new tasks, and the salary is often above 2k € thanks to "reimbursement". Here in Italy I've worked for BancoBPM and Allianz as "Consultant". The effort was 3 months of "work" and years of free time.
Try looking for jobs at international development organizations (e.g. World bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc). They're pretty chill and pay ok. https://www.devex.com/ is a good place to start. NOTE: most IT jobs will require either a masters in CS or certifications.
Sounds like allot of jobs, low pay, no real responsibility, no future. But how to get a job like that:
Lately, I see allot of jobs where the title is "engineer", but role is actually tier 3 support, because all the real engineering is done offshore. The only requirement for those jobs is to speak English reasonably well, and have your two feet in the USA.
I had your dream job. The catch, though, was that I was so passionate about my job that I pulled all nighters on and off for years. In the end there was nothing to do but petty maintenance as all the issues were automated away, I kept looking for more things to do, fun things.
Ultimately I got bored and left.
I was a “sysadmin/devops”. If that helps, though usually developers don’t think they need sysadmins anymore.
US federal government. I've worked in that sphere and there are so many federal employees out there with no skill at all, doing nothing, that get promoted for time in service or minority status. They earn accolades throughout their careers and finally a retirement check for next to no effort. The downside is that it's a horribly depressing environment.
The secret here isn't picking the right title or job description. Pay attention during the interview. Some hiring managers will straight up tell you that they're just filling headcount. Ask you future coworkers if they work hard. There are plenty of jobs where you don't have to work at plenty of companies that aren't going anywhere. You can do it!
Saying you like helping people contradicts the earlier statement that you don't care. You care about helping people. That's actually how most of us get through the day. We may not believe in the product(s) our companies make. But we care about the people who do, and helping them achieve something they believe in can be good enough as a career.
Get a job at a consultant company that hands you out to others as an expert. It will take a while for the big corp that received you to figure out that team members are doing all the work and that you're applying low effort on everything.
If you do not ask for a raise, the consultant company is fine with it and will hand you out to new clients easily.
Become the database/configuration management guy for a simple but established B2B SaaS? In that sector data volume is not usually super high, so you're not managing complex replication or backup strategies.
Once the DB is up and running, you're pretty much just ensuring it doesn't fall over, which can probably be done in under 2hrs a day.
> I'm an average developer looking for ways to work as little as humanely possible.
You can halfway do this by being a 90th percentile developer. The problem is you get there by putting in the work and having the sort of mindset where you put in the work and keep putting in the work when they don't have to.
In the swampy, stinking waters of the river Styx – the Fifth Circle – the actively wrathful fight each other viciously on the surface of the slime, while the sullen (the passively wrathful) lie beneath the water, withdrawn, "into a black sulkiness which can find no joy in God or man or the universe".
Have you asked the reddits for people on social security? There's probably a fair few people in there who know how to answer your question. That's not meant to be derrogatory, just honest. There are people whose entire careers are gaming systems like you're wanting to do.
> - No / very little involvement in the product itself (I do not care.)
You're in luck! This is almost every tech job.
I'm hitting a creative wall currently where I want to explore the product side of the business. I can only learn so much about code and implementation before I want to change the actual product itself.
Use the Engineer Montgomery Scott method. Overestimate the length of time for a project by 300%. Tell management it will take 3 weeks, get it done in 1 week and let management know it is finished in 2 weeks. You look like a genius and scored a free week.
It’s probably working in the cloud. Once you set up a system for a company that’s automated and grows elastically over time, you can move on to setting up a system for a new company. Find a job in the cloud my friend. That’s what I’m working towards.
Are you able to ask your current employer if they can switch you to 3 day weeks? or 4 day weeks?
Also government jobs might be worth it - almost every friend I know who works in government says they are full of slackers. It might get busy during the end of the quarter but other than that, it's quite lazy from what I hear.
Potentially applying for a job that you're way over-qualified could fit your criteria. It's not that uncommon for people who retired to still want to work but with less responsibility and more free time. I.e. I've seen former CEOs driving Uber for fun or mentoring younger founders.
I would suggest you look into smaller companies with support / Managed Services tasks. DevOps might be great idea as you can automate many things and be more idle, focus on things that are more important to you and still generate enough value to keep the job.
Another option: work hard now, save up lots of money and invest it in low-cost index funds, then later in life (e.g. when you're 40) you can quit your day job and focus on your passion or simply kick back. This idea is called "FIRE" if you haven't heard of it.
I am also searching for similar one but I specifically mention part-time and remote.
I have fairly regular skills and so far no luck.
Most of the times I get discriminated response due to my cost of living in India. But i am surely confident about getting the one.
I think you are right for trying to spend more time on your hobbies. However isn't there a way to make a life out of your hobbies? It does not have to make you rich, but every penny you earn out of it, does not have to be earned by work which is mediocre at best.
Great post OP, one of the most relatable things I've seen on HN. To piggyback, does anybody here have any experience doing this while living in Europe as an American? Seems like there are generally fewer remote jobs here, especially ones that can be 60-80%.
It's a sign of how crazy our society is that you have to work this hard to frame (and justify) a question that is essentially, "How do I reverse the coercive impact companies have on wage to get more of the real value of my time?"
I get why you want this. But please do not take advantage of a company & or the manager who hired you. If you're hired in a full time capacity, you should try to deliver on expectations. Maybe seek part-time or contract instead?
For a start cut-out front-end JS. That's a serious time sink these days. If you thought working around IE compatibility in the early 2000s was bad wait until you get sucked into a sizeable React project.
A wise woman once told me to figure out what my passion was, and work with that.
While that's not always possible, in sure you can find some kind of job that is at least moderately interesting to you, and that you won't mind actually putting in the work for.
I kinda get where you're coming from, but I think you have the wrong solution. You don't care about the product you're working on, so find one that you do care about! Slacking off at some lame job you don't like is the way to depression, steer clear of it!
My reaction to this post was similar — is OP sure he actually wants to be a developer? Because honestly, it sounds like a big part of his problem is that he feels like his work lacks meaning. There are many other jobs out there where he might feel more motivated to work.
any job were you basically have to support legacy systems is your go to.
As long as it runs, they won't really care. You can automate a lot of your work while pretending to be doing the same routine tasks.
This general idea makes a lot of sense because the company will actually be _happy_ to have someone sit mostly idle, as long as there's always someone to fix it when it breaks. You won't have to constantly feel like you're hiding your idleness / lying to peers.
I have no interest in telling you what to do as an individual but this thread and all of the people that seem on board with this is what drives me crazy about most of the places I've worked.
I have the hardest time getting anything done because of the sea of people trying to find ways not to do any work. Is this not abuse of privilege? Do you all not hear the stories of people working multiple jobs and still not being able to pay their bills. Is this entitlement?
There are actual problems in the world, sure most of them you are able to effect might be small but what a complete waist of time to be stuck in a job for 8 hours a day and be actively choosing not to contribute solutions to the problems you are faced with. Sure not everything along the way is going to be interesting but if these problems don't excite you there are other jobs that should and if all of that fails go start a company because you are only on this planet for so long and waisting these hours making it look like you are doing work pails in comparison to actually making any impact on the people and things around you. You will be missing out on shared relationships of successes and failures as you resign yourself to this void.
It doesn't feel good to deceive people, it doesn't feel good to take money from people for work you haven't done.
There are people in this world that would literally give anything to have the jobs you have all listed but they can't even apply because they were not born in the right country or their parents didn't have the money to send them to the right school or their accent or skin color made that same interview that you passed impossible to even get.
This whole thread feels so wrong to me and I'm really amazed this community is okay with propagating it. It goes completely against the idea of progress and works against any form of entrepreneurial spirit. Companies fail because of this mentality and world as a whole is worse off because of it. Sure everyone has moments of these feelings but to encourage this as an ok path through of life, I just don't understand.
I really disagree with this point of view. I don't think anyone should feel indebted to their circumstance/employer just because there are others out there without the same opportunities.
Is it entitlement? Maybe. But isn't it also entitlement for companies to try to squeeze the maximum amount of productivity out of employees for the least amount of compensation? Why can't they see that there are less fortunate companies that can't afford to bring on the most productive workers?
If OP wants a low stakes job to coast to retirement in - more power to them. The only "issue" I see is if OP intentionally deceives their immediate team/coworkers and is off-loading their commitments while reaping the benefits.
> It goes completely against the idea of progress and works against any form of entrepreneurial spirit
Not everyone cares about these as values. Some people just want to have a decent life and spend time thinking about things other than work. I don't see why they should uphold these values just because others don't have the opportunity to.
> Some people just want to have a decent life and spend time thinking about things other than work.
A few years ago when the first rumblings of "everyone is an entrepreneur" and "be your own brand" and all that stuff with books I read a book called Life, Inc, by Douglas Rushkoff. It helped me realize that the people who thought that living your life like you are corporation comes from a particular worldview that deifies people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and the like. It equates that view of life as the best, nay only, way to live and succeed.
Personally, I love programming, and I love other activities. I tolerate some corporatization of myself for programming because it pays the bills. I would never want to be an entrepreneur or run a company. I hate doing all the other stuff that running a business requires.
Not that love being a wage slave, but that I have better things to do with my life than sell my skills.
I think it's fine for one person to not uphold these values, but I remember coming to hackernews because I was excited about progress. Now it seems like self interest has taken over as the primary value.
Maybe it’s the aggregate cynicism of seeing all that “progress” amount to little else than hype, shifting market share from older giants in every sector to new exciting new startups that almost immediately become just as bad as the old giants or in many cases worse. Ten years ago I also couldn’t wait for my plot of land on Mars. 2021-Me Cannot imagine being truly inspired by a software company.
I can see how the hype not matching up with reality leads to cynicism. At the same time, I believe cynicism is worth fighting because we have 50 or more years ahead of us while we are alive to make progress, and just because the last 30 years of hypercapitalism has led to a lot of pain doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and despair.
I think you're really reaching with that analogy. No, that's not entitlement - that's capitalism. Compensation is always a two-way agreement between the employee and employer - you're never doing a job that you didn't agree to do. If you agree to it, that means you consider the compensation worth the effort.
On the other hand, for someone to accept a job and then go to work with the intention of being as unproductive as possible - that's entitlement, and that word is putting it lightly. A century ago they would've called it "shameful" or "dishonorable", but nowadays such behaviour is excused with a kind of pseudo-marxist "stick-it-to-the-man" vibe. However, when you boil it down, it's just a bullshit excuse for laziness and dishonesty.
> it doesn't feel good to take money from people for work you haven't done.
I can think of entire ranges of organizations I would have no problem in extracting money from.
Despite personally regularly working 60+ hour weeks (I actually like my job), your entire post feels like you’re pretty deep into the wage-slave kool-aid. A job is a means to an end, not a reason to exist, and companies do not care for you in the slightest. Extending them the same courtesy is a reasonable step.
Been there, done that. I’m not interested in the paperwork, or the “hustle” of finding projects (though that historically has never been a problem, who is to say it will remain that way when the next dot-com crash equivalent era hits).
Note that “working to live” and not “living to work” is not the same as “not fulfilling your contractual obligation to your employer”, which you absolutely should do.
>Except paying the bills and achieving something are only weakly correlated concepts in many cases, especially when salaried.
This seems like an extremely short-sighted view. If you have a string of successful projects, your salary will go up over time (you may have to switch jobs a few times though).
>If you don't care about the particular ethics/concerns for humanity, what OP wants is definitely possible.
If someone has no concern for ethics or humanity, I want to avoid working with that person. I also want to make sure that they do not get into a position of power.
>A lot of it also comes down to incentives. What percentage of employees have any stake whatsoever in whether their own project succeeds or fails? Or even the company they are with?
So many projects/companies are essentially relying on individual altruism to choose to take action rather than not.
I agree here and I think over time there should be a shift towards making it harder to keep such a disproportionate amount of equity for being a founder. Of course they should get the most, but the balance doesn't seem optimal for the long term progress of our industry and would benefit from some regulatory limits.
> If you have a string of successful projects, your salary will go up over time (you may have to switch jobs a few times though).
Lot to unpack here. Switching jobs doesn't require successful projects, only self-marketing to make projects seem successful and important. You're basically suggesting we have a merit-based industry, when in reality it's just as much subject to social networking as any other.
How would it be entitlement for me to do this but not for my boss to expect me to work my ass off for a small share of the profit he’ll get for my work? Hell, in most cases I won’t even get credit for what I did, my manager will! Especially when the end product is either entirely useless or actively harmful for society (displacing low skill jobs disproportionately held by the same underrepresented groups corporate HR claims to want to help etc), why make personal sacrifices to help build that?
I totally share your values and agree when you say there are folks causing problems during their attempts on dodging their duties. On the other hand, I didn't see this sort of bad attitude on the OP's side. He's looking for a low-demanding job, which I think is a valid choice, and he's OK about earning less as well. What would be bad -- and, as you said, it's unfortunately pretty common -- is if he were looking for ways of keeping a job while delivering less than what's been asked for -- which he could attempt on any job at all.
Why would that be bad? I couldn't care less about the actual value I'm generating to a company. As long as I can maintain a balance of working the least and earning the most and my employer think I'm being overpaid, I'm fine. The reality is that even when I strive to work the least I can, I still am being underpaid. That's how companies work. The value I generate is much greater than what I'm paid.
Putting it in another way: imagine you are sick and a doctor can recover your health. The value they provide is unmeasurable. However, there are many of them able to help you recover, and they charge differently, based on a number of factors. Despite, they all provide you a unmeasurable value: your health.
Can you see how the money you make can't be determined solely by the value you provide?
Boo. You're mad that someone wants a lowish paying tech job where they can finish their work quickly then not be bothered? There are a lot of those jobs. Most mildly successful companies that have 20+ year devs working at the same place in the same role for about the same pay are those jobs. That is the backbone of the dev world.
Don't be upset because someone rejects the idea of spending countless hours of their life building software.
It sounds like your frustration is with people who should be doing more work than they are. I'm not sure that OP is looking for a job where they can wriggle out of responsibilities. It may be they are just looking for a job where the responsibilities are minimal to begin with, which doesn't seem unreasonable to me. If OP can fulfill the requirements of a job and someone wants to hire them, who cares?
Also, I don't like the implication in your third paragraph that people who aren't working at full capacity are "wasting their time." There's more to life than work. The suggestion that undermotivated people start their own company seems particularly egregious. Seems like starting a company requires more motivation than working other jobs, not less.
> you are only on this planet for so long and waisting these hours making it look like you are doing work pails in comparison to actually making any impact on the people
At least you acknowledge the finite nature of life, but it seems like a grand assumption that environmental incentives currently optimize for spending that finite life in a way that is ultimately meaningful to yourself or others. What if all this tech bullshit we’ve seen for the last two decades really is just bullshit, and the toxic by-product of exponential-growth-crazed tech economy that netted a few billionaires and a few tens or hundreds of thousands of highly paid tech workers has been the hollowing out of our culture and destruction of shared institutions. So what if op wants to take an easy job beneath their abilities and lap up some easy ad tech money to divert it into something unprofitable but meaningful? What’s the counter argument? That we should all take jobs at the very peak of our abilities and fully devote our energies to maximizing economic output? What about people that have kids and want to focus on being a parent?
Op was very candid about wanting a low-expectation position, not deceiving anyone about whether or not they are working at all. Find your sinecure and produce something you or someone else cares about, op!
This comment strikes me as a little idealistic and cut off from reality. At large companies (where 90% of the jobs are), 90% or more of the work is KTLO (keep the lights on) work. It's menial and intellectually un-stimulating by design, because a bunch of really smart people early on in the company's history put work into building a machine that prints money with little non-maintenance work. That's because they knew that such a company would be able to fetch high multiples for investors.
If you want a job like that, not only are they easy to find, but they're absolutely everywhere. It's in contrast the intellectually stimulating and challenging jobs which are hard to find, because they attract growth-oriented individuals who by nature are very competitive. Getting a menial, coast-worthy FAANG job isn't that hard because you're only competing with a pool of others who want the same thing -- by definition, you just need to be a little bit more differentiated than them and you're golden; there's a gigantic supply and it's ever increasing.
The worst part of this is that software is typically a collaboration. It's fine to want to work just enough to provide for whatever it is you want to provide for. Morally (I guess?) it's not right to drag a bunch of teammates down with you as you try to make software.
I know some artisans that do this exact thing. I'm sure a lot of people on here know people exactly like the ones that I do. I know a cabinet maker who has been doing it for over 40 years. He'll make a fantastic set of cabinets for someone and then not work a bit for 3 months. Then he'll do it again. I know another guy who makes custom offroad accessories. He'll do a run of whatever, working hard for 2 weeks, and then fuck off for 2-4 months at a time. Repeat as needed. Do more when you need more money, do less when you need less. It's a healthy pattern if you can pull it off.
I think it's fine if you want to do the software development version of that, but you need to be in a situation where you're doing freelance or project based work and not negatively affecting your peers.
Not really. It is part of the journey towards evolving efficient systems as a whole. If you go by the 80/20 principle about workplace/work (which is true in most cases) - will you fire away 70-80% of the staff as a manager/entrepreneur? or will you give 80% the privilege of not doing as much work or taking on responsibility as the 20%?
People measure "progress" differently. Almost none of what anybody in the software industry is working on, is working towards any meaningful progress in my view. It's mostly electron shuffling to display ads or funnel people into paying for baubles and other transient happiness-boosters (which feed the need for the next hit, mostly).
It's definitely entitlement! Nothing against the OP, but some of the stuff people shared, is even hard to believe. I haven't got much work for the past year because of the pandemic and it's been extremely hard. During the same period, interviewing been painful, absolute waste of time. Everything seems so pointless.
I'm not sure a moral argument here achieves anything because with every example there are exceptions on both the employer and employee. If you can leverage your skill for a job with higher pay and less hours that seems fine. Employers outsource to get equivalent work for less cost for example.
Speed is one reason startups win and its because the incumbents cannot move fast enough. When you've worked at a company that takes 9 months to deliver basic features you see that.
Devil's Advocate: We don't have all the information about OP. He claims he wants to work hard for 2 hours in the morning and then do what he's really passionate about. He mentions hobby materials. For all we know, he could be a genius painter or woodworker in the making. Who is it for us to say that a master craftsmen should spend 40 hours a week on tech if they truly care most about their art? If they can contribute good value for 10 hours a week, enough that their employer is still happy paying them, who are we to criticize that?
Thank you saying this. This board has become a cesspool of blind privilege, pedantry without ethics and morality, and humblebrags about compensation. Honestly, I bet 75% of the people on Amazon threads saying it should die work there as the ideal slacker this OP wants to be.
It was a relief to read this post, thanks for writing it. Are there other aggregators or communities that have less of this attitude that you visit online? I heard about lobster.rs recently, not sure if things are better there.
Where do you live? In Germany, 30k a year is a half time job in tech.
I earn 59 working remote from Berlin for a company in Frankfurt.
Im deliberately staying at this firm even though I could earn more elsewhere because I've optimised expectations and flows
I work 40h a week but get it done in half. This is a good thing, for both me and the firm.
I have "Freiraum im kopf" (not sure how to translate that, read clear headspace) to think big thoughts that sometimes feed back into the company.
I find clear communication there is absolutely vital. Seeming lazy is the enemy.
I made it clear from the start I only answer mails twice a day at preset times (9:00 and 17:00), not because I am lazy but because I am disciplined and orderly.
My explanation for not interacting with chat / calls half the day is blocking decent time blocks for deep knowledge work. This is true, but not all of that knowledge work is directly for the firm in that moment.
I find project managers are problematic sometimes. Their core job is talking to people, so they want meetings to validate their existence. To that end, I time-block my calendar publicly.
I mark off all non work times so no meetings can be made by mistake in awkward times, and block off knowledge work times as busy. I also have recommended meeting times for non mission critical things like weekly roundups. Grouping these is important.
If you are low in the hierarchy you will be pushed around and your meetings will be scattered throughout the week.
I negotiated a day for research each week instead of a raise and do a quarterly presentation on whats new in the zoo
Sometimes its crunch time and I work a 80h week but this amounts to about 4 weeks a year max. Being flexible and open to this makes me seem like a team player.
If there is a crisis Im first on site. The image is important, and I make a concerted effort to make sure its seen.
I am sorry but from what I know, 30k€/year is more than the average wage (net) in most European countries, for a full-time job, mind you. In many countries, like Italy or Spain, it's even more like just 20k€/year. To US citizens that is often surprising but you obviously can't discount the social safety net, universal health care and generally lower cost of living, better public transport etc. in many countries. In that case, 20k€ year can definitely be enough to live on (at least until you have kids).
So I fear it is unlikely that you will find a part-time job that pays that much in most of Europe... But again, correct me if I'm wrong.
OK thats interesting.
For reference thats 59 Bruto (before tax) 36 after tax, medical, social contribution, mandatory pension etc.
A friend just left for a 70K
So to put that in perspective
I live my partner, and pay 600 for rent, warm for 120m2
The place was a dump when we moved in 10 years ago but we renovated it ourselves (a proper Grundsanierung)
Shared expenses come to about 600 for my portion. We split expenses based on salary, so my partner contributes 400 as she earns less.
So from the 3k after tax, 1.2k is fixed expenses, 0.5k is fun, 1.3k is savings.
We just bought a plot of land north of Berlin with a few friends (again, cheaper! and more fun!) and am building a little off grid cabin with that spare time.
Doing stuff like that with a group is just great. Its a break from this idea that it needs to be allll miiiiiiine! (evil villain voice), splits costs and splits workloads (you try mowing all that grass....)
I legit lol'd at "woop dee doo". Glad to see you see the humor in all that full-stack madness ;-)
Out of curiosity, 45k€/year in what industry and country (if you're willing to share)? And is this a salaried position or freelance?
If it's job in a company, have you tried asking whether you can go part-time? Family reasons or whatever... I think in some countries is now legally required that your boss offers you an option to reduce your hours or go part-time if it is possible in any way (I don't see why it shouldn't be for a "full stack web dev" ;-)). Can't hurt to try, certainly.
This is a really bad suggestion; if the decision-maker is zoned out, the project is going to stop being low-effort very quickly. (Also you're unlikely to get that position without a lot of effort in the first place.)
can you do tech support for users of the product? It can often be helpful if a tech support person also knows a bit about tech so as to be able to turn the customer's vague bug description into something the developers can actually understand.
Having observed various colleagues in tech support over the years, it's highly stressful and frustrating even for non-call center jobs. Getting sensible information from a semi-cooperative and often mostly clueless customer's IT staff and trying to figure out the issue from the inadequate diagnostics and logging that the development team provided, plus occasionally having to figure out a nice way to relay "won't/can't fix; you're screwed" is utterly awful.
If you're a developer in a big/mid company (or a consultant regardless of company size) your input to the product will be minimum to non-existant. And even if it wasn't, maybe the problem at the base is something you don't believe is worth solving or being solved properly.
I've worked on client projects where I think the project is an utter waste of time and money, and other times worked on promising projects but led by terrible people who'd never manage to make it work. At the end of the day, work is work…
When I was in middle school, I was thought that this kind of behaviour was what brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the capitalistic system prevented this type of behaviour from occurring, thus spawning rapid progress.
I guess the tendencies are still there, but I don't think a capitalist society will make it easy for you. Try and vote for someone pushing UBI maybe?
Whatever you do, don't become my colleague please, I'd hate working with you (and I'd probably get you fired pretty quickly as well, or at least try)
I've worked in a few different capacities and have seen this happen, and seen previously excellent developers decide they simply couldn't take the pressure and head out for something easier. I can respect the latter and provided your interest isn't in attempting to "get away with pretending to work", desiring a less demanding role somewhere else isn't something worthy of "flak".
Onto advice: I had a friend who worked at a shop that did high-end bespoke software centered around compliance management automation/assistance software for complex manufacturing operations. The company didn't have a product, but wrote a ton of software tying various things together, along with a 25% solution that they'd customize out for each customer. This guy wasn't the original author, but had become the SME for nearly the entire solution over about 8 years. He was a bit older than me; I think 45 at the time, had an unexpected fourth child, and effectively started looking like a train was hitting him every day.
There isn't enough background about your current job, so I'm not sure how close my recommendations will be to what you are already doing, however, I'd strongly recommend looking into the largest companies in semi- or non-tech sectors. Check they're IT ops/dev organization; note whether they're using a third-party. If you want that "back-end only job", look no further. Our 7 or 8 most important systems served only massive global multi-nationals.
You'd be surprised how many organizations have large DBA teams. I'm not knocking DBA work; I've worked with great DBAs, but at a past job, all but one of the 6 member team did much more than run a commercial profiling tool, and add indexes from time to time. Bear in mind that every infrastructure job at the company I worked at had an on-call requirement which involved being willing to be awoken at any hour of the night for a week to remote-in for emergencies. It's pretty common to have an on-call requirement.
But let me tell you how I hope it turns out. My buddy took my advice and ended up getting an "Easy Corporate Job" -- in office, but with a promise of 3-days remote in 6 weeks. I remember him telling me that the job was so boring he finished all of his "daily to-dos" for the week in the first couple of hours on Monday, scripted half of them out his life and had the other down to a set of commands he could run to reduce the time required to complete.
He said "Duuuuude, this job is so easy. I work as hard in a week in this job as I did in a day in my last and my boss has never seen someone work so hard!" His burnout ended in a couple of weeks. His boss let him work from home "anytime he wants" at week 3. He never returned to working "his ass off" like he did at the last job, and he has been in the same position for years. He's made new friends on the team, who respect him for his abilities and his boss loves him -- I think partly because he's not using the team to step-stone into a better role. There really is a place for people who are OK staying where they are. That's not me, but I count several among my friends and I have enjoyed working with many who "handle their piece of the puzzle with expected results -- no more, no less"
It's been a decade, but I used to interview developers at big-corp. We used get the bottom of the barrel of the resumes. Nobody wanted to work for BigCorp "process-driven-agile-buzzword development shop". The thing of it is, I observed that the development shop basically did everything that I've done at every dev shop I've worked at, since. But the "reason" they do the things (stand-up/retrospective/back-log and on and on) but instead of being used in support of Agile's goals, they're basically used as a kludge to reduce the amount of change that applications experience. Guess what that means for a large dev shop? They're all pretty bored.
I was under infrastructure in my role at at BigCorp (various levels, including under the CIO at once; it's not as cool as it sounds but it's fun to say). I saw how little was expected of those employees and steadfastly refused all attempts to move me there. I eventually left the company because I wanted to work on things that were more difficult/interesting and 90% of my co-workers "just showed up every day". And BigCorp will let you work remotely, even pre-pandemic, but it can be tricky and pulled out from under you from higher up, so the risk of a "Yahoo!" happening is pretty easy.
 Too often I've been on the receiving end of this individual, and because "at the end of the day the job has to get done", if your job is to pretend your job is important and pretend you're working hard, history has shown that I'll get the work, and you'll get in my way.
 There's a comment in my history explaining -- probably several -- but I was part of a small team developing software for internal infrastructure with full autonomy with regard to the technologies/choices I made, but had to write what was needed in the priority the company wanted it. I wanted nothing to do with the development shop for reasons that will become apparent.
 This isn't necessarily a bad thing; might even be good depending on how the arrangement is. I know of one support person at a large company who works through, I think, HP (maybe IBM?) supporting servers at a few datacenters. He's technically required to be at the DC in a few very limited circumstances (one of which is not "first-time setup", they're installed by another group), but he was working remotely well before the pandemic.
 Meaning, basically no e-commerce. You're managing an important ticketing system/status reporting service and a million custom internal apps for managing the business that were written a decade ago and Walter retired last year. We had a two-node web site running a Sybase back-end for our most important apps most of the time I was there.
> excellent developers decide they simply couldn't take the pressure and head out for something easier
Been working since late 90's with a 1.5 year break for grad school, but going through some extreme burnout right now and I totally want to do this. Don't want to try to "get away with pretending to work" at all, just want something easier with less pressure/stress.
> Check they're IT ops/dev organization; note whether they're using a third-party. If you want that "back-end only job", look no further.
Can you name some specific companies to look at for this?
> My buddy took my advice and ended up getting an "Easy Corporate Job"
Which route did he go, the DBA team or the third-party IT org?
> Can you name some specific companies to look at for this?
Not any specific companies, no. I helped my friend do the job search, though. The criteria we used was "The role he was willing to take had to be in-house or majority in-house" and "Probably a support role". I also realize I wrote that wall of text way too fast because I've slightly mixed in two different peoples' stories by accident one of which had nothing to do with burnout.
To figure out the first, we started at job boards and just "went through the list looking for big companies". Often, if they outsource, the job posting will be from that company, not BigCorp, but not always. From there, at the time, it was pretty easy to confirm by just hopping on LinkedIn and looking up people who worked in similar roles at the company. If you can find a few folks listing their employer as BigCorp, in your role, and the other things match -- he applied.
He was targeting power/telecom mostly. And he ended up getting offers for all but one or two of the interviews he took, which confirmed my thinking that "big companies get terrible candidates". On paper (and in real life, for that matter), my buddy was an excellent candidate and incredibly smart... just burned out. The thing of it is, last I talked to him, he is still puts in more than 40 hours (remotely, though), and he was still the team hero.
> Which route did he go, the DBA team or third-party IT org?
I haven't talked to him in about a year, but he ended up taking a gig on a sort-of DBA team (sort-of in that their responsibilities covered on-prem hardware and some DevOps work, and the job listing barely mentioned DBA work ... and it was posted as a Unix Sysadmin job). He's working remotely directly for the company in that role and another who took a job at a third-party IT org (HP Enterprise or something like that), remotely (with on-prem requirements on rare occasion, etc). I know the third-party gentleman ran into some problems and, I think, is working somewhere else (similar role), now though.
 I do this on purpose, on occasion, because 15-or-so years ago I commented on something including an innocent story on Digg (first iteration), which turned out that I didn't have all of the information on -- and it was far less innocent than I realized -- which someone pseudonomously provided. The result was a bit of embarrassment but not much more. I took it as a warning to be more careful with stories that aren't mine.
 For no other reason than "I worked at a global multi-national telecom, which was a 'sort-of' tech company and we in-housed most of our IT".
 Just. Yeah. ... Huh?! Big corporations and job postings in IT are a whole other topic.
I'm starting to think that being a Wordpress web dev is the ticket.
When I first started in the industry about 6-7 years ago, Wordpress seemed like a total dinosaur. Every instance I worked on was an absolute nightmare -- users installing add-ons that modify the db, introduce security vulnerabilities, etc. I thought WP devs seemed like old fogies -- why would you choose this old, outdated software when you could write beautiful React components and use SSR to deploy your entire blog as a static site?
Well, it turns out that just keeping the dependencies of the fancy React site up-to-date is a full-time job. I have static React sites I made 3-4 years ago that no longer work because they're running a build script on node 10, which Netlify no longer supports.
There's more! clients know Wordpress and are comfortable with it. I've tried every headless CMS under the sun and it pains me to admit that Wordpress's editor interface is better than all of them.
The plugin ecosystem is gigantic. Most likely any feature request a client has can be accomplished by just installing a plugin, if you're feeling lazy.
Will you get paid top dollar by engineering standards? No.
Will you implement beautiful innovative designs? No.
Will you get to use the flavor-of-the-month new hotness JS tooling? No.
Will you get to write elegant functional code? No.
Will your site have a perfect Lighthouse score? No.
Will your client install idiotic add-ons that pollute the database? Probably.
So there's plenty of downsides. The upside is that you can build out the initial site and then literally set it and forget it.
Sure maybe websites are dying but you wouldn't believe how many people out there still need a basic marketing site for their portfolio, small business, nonprofit, whatever. These type of clients are also not particularly tech-savvy (they could probably just do Squarespace on their own if they were), so you have lots of leverage with your schedule and tech choices. If you give them a good deal and treat them well they'll probably stay with you forever.
Once you're tapped into a network of clients and/or have a couple of bigger clients on retainer, you're on autopilot. If you spend a bit of time developing a custom WP theme and a Dockerized hosting solution that makes your setup easy to repeat, your LOE for the initial build-out will be even lower.
I'm still working with the "flavor of the month new JS hotness" but I'm burning out on it and like OP, feel completely disillusioned with the industry post-COvid. I think the tech world would probably be a better place if more people admitted they were just in it for the money and didn't try to convince themselves they're actually saving the world. Good luck to OP and anybody else trying to claw back their personal time.
My first reaction to this statement was not kind. Then I read through some of the comments and thought about it a bit. The reality is that, so long as you are OK living within the constraints your choices might impose, sure, why not, work as little as possible.
In my recommendation I'll take the entrepreneurial path. What you are after is what the VC community might call a "lifestyle business" (usually used as a pejorative, in my opinion).
So long as you are not looking to build a massive business you can do quite well ($10K a month gross income?) if you find the right niche.
While I hate to suggest this, Wordpress came to mind, perhaps at the top of my list. It's a massive ecosystem with an equally massive number of opportunities to solve problems with tech. I don't think you have to necessarily be a web designer for hire to make money. Creating an extension could be a rewarding pursuit that could also generate "lifestyle" business. If you are frugal and save your money you might be able to also survive loss of revenue due to competition. Since you don't care about work I am assuming you might not care about doing battle with competing products by making yours better.
As for working two hours a day and getting paid for eight. While I am sure such jobs exist, I would urge you not to think this way. Some might not understand this due to not having business experience. There's nothing worse than an employee who does not care. Business and entrepreneurship is very hard. It is far from the glamorous life some might imagine. If you are paying someone by the hour (rather than by the job) you expect them to devote that many hours per week to help you make things better (whatever that might mean).
If you figured out how to automate your job and get eight hours of work done in two hours. Great. It is fraudulent to then assume it is OK to get paid for eight hours. The expectation would be to use the newly-found time to go find solutions for other problems. In fact, a good manager or business owner would likely give you a raise or a bonus for what you accomplished and encourage you to attack some other area of the business that could benefit from such an approach. I know that's what I would do, no question about it.
Another interesting take, again, around Wordpress, might be to see if your domain knowledge due to your hobby (I don't think you said what it is) could have some value there. For example, if the hobby is entomology, maybe you can develop a plugin that entomology dealers (universities, enthusiasts, whatever) might be willing to pay for due to the domain knowledge that went into it.
The advantage of choosing the lifestyle business path, in my opinion, is that you get to choose just how hard you push and when. You could choose to work very hard for six months to get something off the ground and then coast from there. In general terms, it's hard to live well without effort. And asking others to support you because you are not interested in working isn't an ethically supportable position. That doesn't mean you can't make an investment in your lifestyle by making an effort for six months to a year and come out of it ahead of the game.
In some ways the pandemic was the perfect opportunity to do such work. Sadly some wasted the chance to better themselves. My next door neighbor invested this time playing online games, smoking weed and drinking. He is a winner.
In my case, I decided to hunker down and design a couple of products. One of them was a complete flop. Being hardware/software these experiments can cost real money. The other one is looking like it might make it. We have a customer who might start ordering 1K units per month and has the potential to grow that run rate to 10K and even 20K units per month within twelve months. Other potential buyers could be in the same range...so this could be a product that we could sell at a rate of 50K units per month. To get there I worked 12 to 16 hours per day, pretty much seven days a week for the last year (just me, nobody else, the entire pandemic so far).
Like I said, business and entrepreneurship isn't easy. Find something you might be interested in and invest enough into it to create a nice $100K to $200K a year lifestyle business. It isn't impossible.
This is something I think about all the time. I think I got really really lucky. I'm probably the only person I know who came out way, way ahead especially in the pandemic. I basically got to go on vacation for a year while still getting paid.
So my first two jobs were at startups where my co-workers were ex microsoft and google people. It kicked my ass but I was grateful for the training. I got super burned out so took a job at a hardware company that had a great brand, but I could tell that their software was really subpar and the company was more old school and "family" oriented. I never planned to stay longer than 1 year but the pay was 50% more and I "only" had to work 9-5 and Fridays most people took off early. As scary as it was at the time, I quit after 1 year to work on a side project and try the digital nomad thing out.
Well, less than a year later, the company called me up again because they needed to fill an immediate role. They needed someone with specific language skills as well as knowledge of our products. I honestly was still enjoying funemployment. So I gave them what I thought was an insane salary request and they said it was ok!
My role was all over the place since it was a new team, in a new country and to this day I really don't know how to explain it to people. The first phase was me doing a lot of prototyping work, to see what was possible for our new product. But as things settled and we were able to hire more engineers, I was able to step back more and more. The 2nd phase was me turning into a sort of walking encyclopedia. Since the company did kind of a shit job documenting things and had custom protocols to communicate with the hardware, I became the goto person. But the problem is that I don't think I know that much either, I just was forced by the team to get really good at Slack, Trello, Github search foo.
And now we enter the final phase. I had an accident with my knee and had to work from home for almost a year. During this time, I was probably a bit depressed, but also just tired of uninteresting mangerial type work so I wasn't even doing my minimal tasks as a human search engine. I kept thinking any day now, I'm gonna get a talking to from the boss, and that's when I'll finally get to say I quit. But it never happened! I think part of it is the unique situation where the people in the US thought I was busy with the foreign branch, and vice versa. When in fact, I was not engaged with either and sitting on my ass all day hoping for my leg to recover faster.
During my 1 on 1 review, I was very candid with my boss about my thoughts on leaving, the fact that I wasn't engaged by non-tech work etc... He was very understanding and said that he would fully support me moving to other parts of the company, and pretty much giving me a pep talk saying how I wasn't that bad. It was bizzaro-review, with me saying how shit I was and then him arguing MY case that I was a valued member.
Final phase part 2: With the pandemic in full swing, and still recovering, I spent a ton of time hiking. With the whole company going remote, I think everyone started to get in on the slacking off bandwagon and I was pinged even less than before. It started with an hour hike in the beginning to multiple days just gone in the woods. I think I visited every state park in a 1 hr radius. And STILL nothing bad happened. I could usually still answer something on slack in the middle of the woods. In the summer they gave me permission to work remotely from europe since everyone was remote anyways, and it would help with my ability to catch the timezones of both teams. I would spend entire weeks just being a tourist doing nothing but the occasional emails.
That all said, I think sometime this year I'm going to quit again and make the move to SF. As awesome and rare of an opportunity this is, it just feels... wrong. Skillwise, I've been stagnating. The only interesting tech stuff and learning comes from my side projects. I feel like the most knowledgeable person in the room all the time, which is really scary because I'm an actualy dud compared to the startup coworkers.
I don't know if you _can_ seek this situation out on purpose, but here's what I would look for:
1. a "family" company that respects work life balance. An older company, European maybe (like spotify etc), non software focused, privately held etc
2. a more senior-ish role. A jr dev is gonna be watched and "developed" so I think you need to be the one at the top looking down
3. build up trust and domain knowledge - I _did_ work my ass off in the beginning and somehow became the de facto knowledgeable person after a bunch of people left
4. role that works across timezones - normally this would suck and you would work a lot more, but with #1, you end up working less because people will assume you are working with the other group
5. look for a larger / growing team - this let me step back and delegate my job away
6. have a cool ass boss - I get along really well with my boss. Without all this undeserved trust and praise, I would probably have been canned
7. Be the type of person who doesn't want to be lazy - I don't think you can just jump straight into a job with the "dud" mentality. You have to "trick" people into thinking you actually care, and the only good way to do that is not to trick them but be genuine, then slowly let that attitude wither away by monotony and bureaucracy :) . Also, if you actually are really competent, then you don't have fear of being fired, because you know end of the day you could just "try" and then find another job. Only with this lack of consequences can you start pushing the boundries
Wow I've been a software engineer nearly 15 years. When I was younger and had more passion in my career I would come to this site then I realised tech was largely full of annoying people with big egos and most of us spend our careers endlessly rebuilding the same shit in slightly different ways and it's quite rare to actually make big money from startups / equity and soul destroying trying to do it. I find it's also getting harder to avoid difficult ethical positions and compromising your own values with many of today's roles in the tech industry.
A repost of this thread on Twitter caught my attention.
I now work in a software job I'm much more comfortable with having gone through a number of much more technically challenging and 'successful' roles. I basically took over as the sole developer for a tiny family software business. The pay is not quite as good but once I'd proven myself I got to do things how I wanted and am respected by the family that run the company. I rarely now work long hours, often completing tasks in less time than I estimate they'll take and occasionally taking time out of my working day for myself. I don't feel remotely guilty for doing so - it's a role where the expectations and bar are much lower than I'm used to. Regardless I've delivered several sizable paid projects, usually about one a year while doing odd bits of support and development for the company's existing clients. It's the closest thing to running a business of my own without taking on the hassle and risk of employing people and managing the books etc. So I'd say it's a pretty good deal. However I am still beholden to some slightly idiotic decisions our customers make and have to deal with them directly but I don't mind - the variety is part of what attracted me to the job. I get involved in everything from pre-sales, producing quotes through to delivery and occasional support of the software.
It's hard to find a job role like the one I'm in but I think the starting point has to be that you have an idea of what you're after. The more you consider what opportunities there are that are not the usual tech nonsense you start to see there are definitely options out there.
I would say you need to have some motivation and contentment in your job even if it is fairly minor things otherwise you will probably end up depressed and start to subconsciously sabotage your own life and career. If you start to feel guilty about how little you do that's a good sign you've swung too far the other way.
All that said I would say good luck to anyone taking this path. Ultimately it has left me much happier to give up the aspirations of becoming CTO of some fast growing company and chill out doing my own thing. I spend time with my friends, family and my wife without the grinding stress of a high-flying job and the constant worry that I'm going to be called on in the middle of the night or work late or a whole weekend without any warning.
Love this question. I've worked a few of these and have many friends in similar positions. Looks like people have recommended some of these already, but from my experience:
- Any type of "analyst" position in a (big) healthcare, banking, or college/university. If not "analyst", then a job description that involves both systems administration + programming (actual app development, not just scripting).
Working in big healthcare/banking is usually very secure and very little work unless you happen to land on an A team (which you won't unless you prove exceptional). I have friends in healthcare who "own" legacy applications. Their job is simply to maintain ancient classic ASP or PHP 3.0 applications that are "critical" to business functions. This amounts to a few hours of work a month (!) when the unicorn server running the app has a hiccup and needs a reboot.
Banking can be the same. I held a remote job for a many-billion-dollar-a-year-US-bank doing ASP.NET development and we would be given something like 2-3 months to fix a vague bug like "this report in the admin takes 15 minutes to run can you make it faster?" Then you would look into it and discover said report was running against a server with 256 MB of RAM running DB/2 off of someone's Raspberry PI duct-taped underneath their desk because they couldn't get their official request for a VM through IT. Oh and they had never written a SQL query before so you just rewrote their abomination of CURSOR hell in 15 minutes and suddenly the report was down to 10 seconds so who cares - time to relax for 2 months and watch videos about growing tomatoes in custom-built built hydroponics tubs (I love you Jeb Gardener).
College/university. Side note here: keep any eye open for any job that requires specialized knowledge of massive legacy/clunky applications, e.g. PeopleSoft (Oracle), SalesForce, SharePoint, etc. I had a gig for a few years at my alma mater helping to migrate their student information systems from a home-grown system that worked (but was legacy DB/2) to an Oracle PeopleSoft system that categorically did not work but had a 50 million dollar budget. They started migrating 3 years before I got there, and to my knowledge, are still migrating/facing issues to this day.
The work was hilariously easy: my task would be to work with the integration team to attempt to get a report of all students in our department meeting x, y, z criteria. Since we were working with Oracle directly, any request took 2-4 weeks and never was fulfilled as they outsourced 100% of their development work and the developers couldn't get anything done.
- SMB consulting, avoiding application development. I think someone mentioned answering tickets already which is usually pretty simple, but inevitably you'll end up getting promoted at most consulting gigs. That said, you can get a nice cushy job just installing servers, racks, desktops, etc. It's a bit of physical work sure, but usually most consulting shops have this stuff down pat - 2-4 hours for an install of <x>, 6 onsite hours for <y>, 2 monthly hours for maintenance, etc.
- Technical writing. This is niche as you need to find a company that actually cares about their documentation, but if you're halfway decent at writing this can be an incredibly low-key easy job. Most people are downright terrible at writing and it shows in their documentation (just take a look at most public API docs!). I know an out-of-work writer who got a gig from UpWork to basically fix grammatical errors for an entire API's documentation that turned into a permanent gig as the company was a startup with zero non-technical folks and they absolutely loved her ability to turn their gibberish into human-readable docs. She got to work directly with consumers who greatly benefited from her work and the job was cake as writing came naturally to her - hardest part was learning what some of the technical lingo was.
I've been down this path. I won't tell you not to do it, because that wouldn't be genuine.
I will just say that apathy is a symptom of some kind of underlying issue that isn't being resolved.
Work, and service to humanity is a joy. Devotion is the path to the only true joy there is in life. It gives you life satisfaction.
It can be more fun to work 4 hours on something meaningful than 1 hour on something that is a chore.
Without devotion to something bigger than ourselves, life is nothing more than chasing pleasure which is fleeting.
You can look up jordan peterson or kapil gupta's writing to go in depth on this, if you'd like.
I took many easy jobs in my career. I always got depressed and got fired.
I stopped being depressed the moment i found something meaningful to work on (self driving cars and computer graphics).
"You are entitled to the work, not the fruit of it"
"I slept and dreamt life was joy. i awoke and saw life was service. I acted and behold service was joy."
The biggest components of happiness according to a study are
0. mental and physical health and mindset
1. our relationships romantic and social
2. The work we do in service to humanity
Now, it may be that some are meant to do service in other ways, and the job is just there to pay the bills.
But personally i have found the leverage and multiplier effect of technology makes it so you can gain real satisfaction by contributing to a mission.
You will not hear these words now. For I have said them too easily.
But someday, after many years, I can almost guarantee that you will make a change on this decision.
Work for works sake is bullshit. But within devotion and service lies the true way in which humans were meant to live.
Deep inside the human heart is an emptiness. A void. Our society lies and tells us to fill this void with external things. If you fill it with objects that becomes addiction. if you fill it with a person, that becomes codependence.
But if you listen to the void closely, it is really an open expansive immeasurable sky. It is a calling to create meaning. It is a possibility to be connected and immersed to a grand mission.
Life is suffering. That is undeniable. Rather than avoiding that fact, it is far more reliable to create meaning that makes the suffering irrelevant.
You are important. You can make a difference. You have a role to play in the unfolding destiny of this world.
For me, it was a move into a (technical/site) management function in an international satellite office of an American company. I got paid handsomely (near top of achievable normal income in country and well above expectation for my age/experience) and only had to work as much as was necessary to maintain stability. This led to plenty of time for hobbies, because I was judged only on keeping my region running and out of the news. Lots of work at the outset, little once I figured things out.
Now, I'm in a (functional/people) management job that requires more focus, but pays three times as much, in a different and more expensive country, so it probably works out to around 2-2.5x as much. With the recent addition of a competent senior manager under me, I'm able to slack off a bit - a bit, not a lot - and play with my hobbies between or during particularly brain-dead calls.
tl;dr management, and fill the ranks under you with good people. I know you said you didn't want to manage people, but unless you're VERY good with creating novel AI, it's probably the fastest route to your goal. I recently did a farm management course with a guy who hammered home the idea that you need to focus on your desire/objective/goal, really understand what you consider important, and not set obstacles for yourself at the outset that would prevent you from getting there. His frequent refrain is that he could meet his goals "in prison" as long as he was willing to be flexible about how he achieved them. Give it a think. If you get to pick the people, having a weekly sync is a lot less effort than trying to write software part-time.
Another important area for you to focus on is cost management: if you can go, or make a 2-to-3-year plan to go, somewhere that the money you have now will buy a house outright, you can potentially live off a hell of a lot less. Reduce your monthly living expenses to exclude a mortgage or rent and include only food+utilities+tax+insurance+hobbies and you may find that you can get by with part-time employment, seasonal work, or time-limited contract work of your choosing. There are many flavors of this: go work in the sandbox for Raytheon, do a month on and a month off on a rig, get a job on a ship, go do a stint at a mining camp when you need cash, etc. All of those places need people with tech skills, and they're probably full of people who are in it for the money and because they love the vast expanses of free time between deployments.
N.B. I'm American, and have been in Europe for 18 years-- so yes, if you're in the USA, a move to somewhere with a more healthy work-life culture could potentially be realistic for you to consider. The Netherlands is not a bad place if slacking in English while maintaining a high standard of living is your goal.
This is not exactly in line with your requirements, but I suggest to study hard and hone your skills, get into Toptal, and work as little as you like, remotely, for a variety of clients and at a high hourly rate. I focused on fullstack. I think specializing in back-end is easier, because front-end tech is more messed up. Machine learning could be another good option, start with fast.ai. If you feel depressed or burned out, take a year off if possible. I believe it is a good idea to take a "sabbatical year" away from work, once every seven years.
I'm going to chime in here even if its not too late but the job you want doesn't exist. You just want someone to pay you money to keep your not monetizable dreams alive. First of all, everything is monetizable, I mean common, have you looked at the internet? Secondly, there are 2 ways to do get an easy job: 1) get an easy job (not possible because it doesn't exist) 2) get a hard job, get very good at it, and it seems easy. then, just coast. no one can force promote you man.
Personally I’m really so far from development... but I find myself in SEO. Now there are a lot of useful and interesting courses. And you can get on a cool project. This is a great practice. + You can start self-studying, listening to lectures and can transcribe them from audio to text with the help of https://audext.com/ for your convenience:)
First of all, I think it's great that you don't want to find a job that you enjoy. That would be scary and difficult, and who really wants to face their fears, or make a "normal" amount of money, or be a "constructive member of society" ? Sounds annoying. (And with all that meaningful work, there'd be less time to drink mountain dew and live a pretend life in a computer game)
Second, look for jobs where your only task is to shepherd some black box and make an occasional change. DBAs, Systems Administrators, Quality Engineers, Middleware Engineers. Plenty of jobs where your only responsibility is to make sure some random commercial software is just... running. If you do it right, you can be working 2 or 3 of these jobs at once and nobody will notice.
Third, look for contract work. Contractors generally are expected to suck at their jobs, and even if you do a piss-poor job of it, they'll just move you to another contract soon afterward. All you have to do is make the bosses happy and you don't have to be productive at all. (This works better in larger contracting companies)
Fourth, put your resume and e-mail out there in public resume-hunting sites. You will get bombarded by random e-mails from headhunters for jobs you aren't qualified for at all. Apply for those positions. Lots of hiring managers are morons. You're bound to get one, it's a numbers game!
Finally, once you get such a job, make sure to come back to HN and complain about how bad your job is. Nothing's more inspiring than under-achievers lamenting their lot in life.
Am I the only one who read this thread and got a little sad? Technology really does have the potential to change the world for the better, and I still believe that. It's just sad to see so many people who just want to use their talents to make money and that's it.
Anyways I can understand why people get to where they are in terms of believing that there is no meaningful work out there in software which also makes enough money to live on. We live in a pretty discouraging world. The marketplace misprices a lot of things and there are many things with high social value which are public goods that can not be sold at a high price (or at all).
A lot of folks on here think the most sought after companies for SW engineers are FAANG.
Base for major profits at these companies:
FB - advertising
Apple - hardware company with software/services
Amazon - ecommerce
Netflix - entertainment content streaming
Google - advertising
Ranking those as far as companies to make the world better, I would rank Apple at the top since they actually produce something of value to a lot of humans. If you helped build features in the Apple Watch that cause someone to see a doctor for a condition and prevent a potential major medical issue, wow - awesome!
Tech or any other industry isn't going to change the world for the better. Maybe one exception of Renewable Energy, literally could help our planet. That isn't "tech" though.
I agree with you that technology can be used for good, neutral, or evil purposes. I also agree with you that the largest tech companies are not all good. They are desirable because they pay well, but not to everyone. I left a job at Google, for example. (Ironically... you mentioned health, and I was lucky enough to work on health while I was there).
The weird thing is that we are the tech industry. Almost everyone I know in tech reads Hackernews. If we are cynical about our own industry, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
The idea that no industry can change the world for the better seems overly pessimistic to me. If you take a broader view going back to the 1500s vs. now, it's clear that industry has played a role in making the world better. I expect this long term trend to continue.
There is definitely a growing trend for green technology, I don't see why you think that, for example, Tesla isn't a tech company that will play a role in helping the planet.
There are plenty of problems besides climate change, even though that is a huge one.
As I mentioned in my post before, a lot of the reasons we face these problems is related to the fact that the market does not properly price things. So of course there is going to be a mismatch between work that pays well and work that benefits society. Is this mismatch permanent? I don't think so. Is it uniform to all work? I also don't think so.
Tesla is a car manufacturer. They operate in the luxury segment which is ~5% of all cars and they only have a slice of that. Nothing they have done, yet, has made a change in the climate that can be measured. You can believe in their mission statement about changing the world but what I've stated are facts based on data. The classification on the stock market has them in the "Consumer Cyclical - Auto Manufacturers" industry segment. If Tesla helps push major manufacturers further into EV then that is good.
The mismatch on salary has always been there. For instance, teachers and emergency responders get paid very little compared to a lot of other professions. Even accountants make substantially more, probably double.
Rewind history to when automobiles were coming out. People thought horses were going to be the mode of transport forever. Is the world better because of automobiles alone? Everything seems interconnected so that is where I was going with not a single industry is going to change the world. Take medical devices and Tech together and you will see more change than Tech alone.
Tech can amplify other industries but alone is mostly just automation of existing things.
Tesla is classified as a car company. They also produce renewable energy products in the form of battery packs. I would consider this an offshoot of the main business, kinda like a lumber mill might also produce bark chips or mulch for landscaping.
To get pedantic, if a classification existed of energy storage companies, that's sort of where Tesla is right? They don't have products that produce energy via solar/wind/nuclear, they have products that consume energy and store it for later use. Is Duracell a renewable energy company? (sarcasm)
All car companies have software engineers. Practically any company past a certain size hires software engineers. That isn't really a criteria being a "tech" company is it? By that definition Caterpillar (makes giant diggers and construction equip) is a tech company. CAT has over 200 software jobs open now.
I'm not denouncing Tesla or what they are doing. I'm just pointing out that I don't classify them as Tech and those that are in the business of classifying companies don't either.