Efficiently Managing Two Jobs (AKA working 16 hours a day)
When I saw this post in November about Jack Dorsey, I was taken aback at the skepticism the article received, but I had nothing to say to the contrary…until now.
Listen, working 16 hours a day is nuts, and probably not cut out for many people at all, but I do it, and I love it.
- I’m a software engineer for a San Francisco startup called Eventbrite. I spend 8-11 hours daily here.
- I’m an independent video game developer for a company I’ve started, and we’re building an iOS game called Meme Defense. I spent 5-8 hours here daily.
Skills you’ll need:
- If you’re seriously looking to spend two-thirds of your time working, the number one thing you’ll need is to like what you’re doing. If I felt Eventbrite wasn’t a rich, worthwhile endeavor or if I wasn’t laughing my ass off building a video game about memes, I would drop one of them. It’s that simple. I think it was Steve Jobs that said something along the lines of, “If you’re not thrilled about what you’re doing too many days in a row, something has got to change.”
- Friends who understand (or no friends). I used to go out every night, meet new people, drink wine, play yahtzee. I still do that, but not as often.
- Be in touch with your body. Working two jobs is tough, and breaking down is easy. Make sure you get some exercise in and eat healthy. You should know when to take a vacation, and when to sleep.
- Iron fucking willpower. You’re going to be tired. Some days, you’re going to be pissed at a co-worker, or you’ll lose faith in your side project. If you have days like this, see point 3. If not, ship it!
- Know how to eliminate distractions. TV, Reddit, Hacker News, Facebook. All of these are production’s worst enemy. In the morning, I open up Hacker News with a coffee and I pick 2 or 3 articles. I read those articles and regardless of what branches I could follow based on the article’s content, I make sure I put it down, edit my /etc/hosts file to block all distraction sites, and I get shit done.
Separation of Passions:
It’s important that the two jobs you do are different from one another, otherwise you’re copying and pasting.
At Eventbrite, I work in Python in a web-based world. It’s mostly feature work with some generation of some technical specs, writing docs, coding, coding, coding.
On Meme Defense, I work in Objective-C (mostly) on a mobile device. Aside from the engineering work, I also manage everything from the other employee/contractors to the product direction. Additionally, I negotiate contracts with an art studio for the visual assets and a musician to get a proper soundtrack (almost got something in the works with the people who make this!), legal work, finance, determine a marketing plan, set up campaigns like the one on Kickstarter.
Two completely different products, and two sets of skills. The great part about it is that the learning curve is still steep for both, and man, it is rewarding.
Something Jack Dorsey’s article failed to mention is the importance of separating the two jobs. I never work on Meme Defense while I’m at the Eventbrite office. Even when I’m finished for the day and the office is perfectly acceptable to, I’ll still go home/to a coffee shop and work (Of course the opposite doesn’t hold true. If Eventbrite needs me while I’m working on Meme Defense in my off hours, I drop Meme Defense for Eventbrite).
Typical Week Day:
- Wake up 6 hours after I go to sleep, every day, no exceptions. I might write some emails in the morning about Meme Defense while I’m still at home or I’ll finish the piece of code from last night, otherwise I go directly to Eventbrite.
- Code all day. Lunch is brought in, and I always bring it back to my desk.
- Around 6:30 PM, there is always a series of epic fucking ping pong battles.
- Depending on where I am with Eventbrite tasks, I might stay another hour or so, otherwise I go home.
- Quick dinner with no electronics nearby, and quick shower (because of the ping pong).
- By 8 or 9 every night, I’m onto Meme Defense.
- I go to sleep the moment I get tired and without hesitating. When I am tired, I’m useless, so I know it’s better to write down what I’m doing and pick it up again tomorrow.
I really splurge. In the last month and a half, I’ve been to Reno, Tahoe, New York, Las Vegas, and Seattle. And I have a trip to Mexico approaching pretty quickly.
Of course, there are weekends when I have to write some code, or think about work, but mostly I want to take two full days to sit back, disconnect, and really take in all the things I’ve accomplished over the week. It is an awesome feeling to have done so much.
Meme Defense is just a passion project, and soon enough, I will launch it and it will be less hectic than it is now. Based on feedback and market response, I might make an extra stage or two, but it certainly won’t be 5-8 hours a day anymore, and I won’t be working 16 hours a day. I started Meme Defense at the end of October last year, and although difficult to maintain, it’s been one of the most rewarding undertakings I’ve ever done. When it ends, it’ll be bittersweet.
Working 16 hours a day is nuts….but I recommend you give it a shot, just for a little while.Sharing is caring -
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