Working too many late nights makes you socially retarded

This Monday, we released the first of several stages in a 6-month upgrade project to a big ERP system. As with any software project, it was a big rush at the end, but particularly so this time because I was lead, and we were doing a lot of architectural improvements (which I will talk about here in a series of articles over the next few weeks).

Anyway, in the race for the deadline, I worked late nights and weekends for sixteen days in a row. The stress was fine, because I was really enjoying the work, but by the end, I found I could hardly hold a conversation with someone about anything other than the project itself. It was as if all my social skills had somehow been sapped — the mind was willing, but the tongue had nothing to talk about.

I’ve never experienced such a thing before, and it was pretty strange. It’s important not to neglect your social life when you’re working overtime to finish a project. It’s very easy to start saying no to parties and spending time with your friends, believing you’re doing a good thing by having early nights and recharging your batteries. My advice to you is DON’T. You need the distraction right now more than ever.

June 25, 2009

11 Comments

Ian on June 25, 2009 at 8:35 pm.

Agreed in full. This is an example of what’s called a ‘support mechanism’ in psychology. The more the better :-)

Stephen on June 26, 2009 at 12:47 am.

So it isn’t just me. I once went 2 weeks without speaking to anyone except through email and im when doing a major classroom upgrade at a small college.

I remember how strange it was having those first conversations and having to “relearn” how to communicate with my voice.

Maintenance Man on June 26, 2009 at 4:54 am.

Try going on a death march and doing that for a few months. You will revert to your caveman self. It will be ugly.

Morningtime on June 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm.

I recognize this problem, and I solved it in two ways for myself:

- Work with more realistic planning (6 weeks of 8 hours, instead of 3 weeks of 16 hour days)
- Only work with clients willing to provide me required input up front, at start, or as early as possible in a project; if they can’t, then I can’t be forced to stick to their deadlines either!
- I drop clients/projects that don’t respect above two rules

It’s a sanity safeguard and grealty helps to improve the quality of deliverd work, reduce stress and let me go out at night to meet new peeps (which helps to build my professional network as well).

Dev on June 29, 2009 at 10:12 am.

Apparently this is the Developer disease :)) I’ve experienced this one too

JUG on June 30, 2009 at 3:09 am.

Wow, so I am not alone! Well, I agree this is a disease with no cure. Btw, Morningtime, no project ever goes according to plan not even a college dissertation.

Andy on July 2, 2009 at 3:44 pm.

Wow, I live for 10 years in such mode. Yes, I have lack of social skills, but who cares?

Anonymouse on July 14, 2009 at 8:43 am.

>I agree this is a disease with no cure

The is a cure consisting of two things, the forty hour week, and the eight hour day.

Exorsus on July 25, 2009 at 7:10 am.

Agree, this is a true vision of a modern age.

The Mighty Stassen (@mightystassen) on November 29, 2012 at 6:08 am.

Yup. Recently started building a framework to play around with some complex CQRS/ES concepts, ended up turning myself into a bit of a zombie for a few weeks. Got totally obsessed with “how would I do *this* if *that* happens and we want to…” Took a week break and now I’m at it again :)

Joe on January 28, 2014 at 10:43 pm.

This is very true, but as always it goes to the back of everyone’s mind when a deadline approaches!

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