Software engineers > software engineering problems

My work laptop is the 15-inch M1 MacBook Pro, and compared to the one I had before that (errr, it might have been the 2017 model? 2018? I can’t recall), the battery life is fantastic. I remember generally struggling with running a bunch of processes and having multiple applications open and I’d be lucky if it lasted a working day, but now the M1 can last me up to two full days of work—yes, including Zoom calls. It means that if I am going to the office or going out to work elsewhere for the day, and forget my charger, but my laptop is fully charged, I don’t have to worry.

It also means I don’t have to worry when I’m running dozens of yarn add processes and sucking the absolute life out of—I don’t know, the npm registry? (For the laypersons, we’re talking about software package managers.) I was spinning my wheels with my local environment for an entire work day because I couldn’t publish our own packages, and when I figured that stuff out (it was a rogue .npmrc file, folks), I ran into multiple errors that even the silver bullet of deleting node_modules or re-cloning the repository would not fix. I was spewing! Chris set the repository to stop ignoring yarn.lock files and somehow that did the trick. I want my time back!

Occasionally I think about how taxing software engineering is for a job. Your brain is constantly on. You’re thinking and ticking and thinking and ticking. I can sit at my desk all day with virtually no breaks away from the work, and be exhausted by the end of the day even if I haven’t walked more than two hundred steps. Which, by the way, isn’t healthy, I definitely advocate for taking breaks. But even when we’re walking to get a cup of tea or going out for that walk, our brain is solving problems.

Over time, I try to reflect on my day and how much brainpower I really used, and how mentally tired I’m feeling. I think it’s good to check in and assess how some days are compared to others. Did we spend a lot of time in meetings? They’re considered work, too. Did we spend a good two hours fully focused on finishing a task, even if the rest of the day we felt we were losing our marbles? Did we do a bunch of admin tasks or mindless cleanup tasks? It’s still useful, but can definitely give us the feeling of not having used our brain much that day. Did we, like I did today, feel immensely burned out by trying to fix a problem that I feel like I might take off early tomorrow afternoon or have a longer lunch break? Sure. I think it’s important to consider balance in our work.

Two cakes, one tiramisu and the other a cheesecake with fruit on top, on a wooden table

Today we farewelled some lovely people who are moving onto exciting opportunities, so that was a reason to pop into the office and also spend a good amount of time chatting and eating cake and not dealing with damn package managers.

Two women and a man smiling and holding ice cream
Me, Farnaz, and Matt
A selfie of a group of people in an elevator, smiling
Spontaneous elevator picture I guess 😂

Some old colleagues (well, friends!) joined us too. See? Work & play. Balance.

I’m blogging every day in January 2023. Let me know if you’ll be joining in and trying to blog every day. 😊 The hashtag you can use on social media is #blogeverydamnday. P.S. My friend Mitch is blogging too! 🙌🏼

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