64d ago
> My team runs lean and the work is complicated

Change of team or of company. There is nothing more stressful than a relatively small team full of very productive developers working on complicated stuff: if you are a normal developer (like me), then that's a hard situation because you have to spend extra hours besides working hours just to keep-up with your team's pace.

Find a place where they do normal stuff (web development?) and in the interview double check the level of your potential teammates.

> I need to figure out how to feel comfortable working less in ways that don’t mentally feel like it’s impacting my work

But it will impact your work. If you want to be a balanced human, you need to accept that you will not be an uber-achiever at work. It's an either-or proposition.

In terms of more concrete advice, it's often possible to grind hard for a year or two, build up a lot of knowledge and respect within the team, and then coast on it for a long time. It's not a perfect strategy (as you can be reassigned to another team later etc.), but perhaps worth a try if you don't want to forgo your high salary.

Flip the script around and ask yourself: how can I be the best worker in my 40 hour work week? Working 40 hours is your constraint and your output is the resulting variable. Don't destroy your life for your job.

Also, make sure you're working on impactful things in an efficient manner.

In tech jobs specifically, the impact of your work is what matters, not how much work you performed. I see a lot of people working long hours on low impact work and producing less results than someone working fewer hours on high impact work.

To put it mathematically, take two workers:

Worker A is working on a project that produces X value per hour of work. He works a long 60 week and generates 60X value.

Worker B is working on a project that produces 3X value per hour worked. He works an easy 30 hour week and generates 90X value.

Worker B worked less and got more done.

As you can see, it's really important that you're working on high value projects and that you're working efficiently.

Don't spend 12 hours struggling with a problem when you could spend an hour asking for help. Don't spend 12 hours hacking around another team's bad API when you could spend an hour asking them to fix their API. If you're asked to do a project that takes 100 hours, but you can tweak the idea so it only takes 20 hours, suggest that idea. There are lots of things you can do.

I had a turning point in my career where I realized I'm mainly evaluated by occasional project check-ins (and quarterly reviews) and as long as I have a few good things to mention, then I'm appearing to do a great job. I immediately started working a lot less hard because I realized a ton of stuff I was doing didn't really matter. Ironically, I wasn't being lazy, I was aligning my work with business needs, which actually made me a more valuable employee despite that I was working less.

Are you willing to give up your standard of living? If yes, just quit and find a less stressful / more fun job. I did it, albeit from management, and never coming back. Now I'm learning to program full time on the beach, in my home country. Best decision of my life.
Just live the life you want to, work the hours you want to. Make you and your own health the priority, and do work second. Let things fail at work, let projects be late and the answer as to why is "it was more work than I could do in the time alloted". Then, how they handle it will be the test as to if you stay, or find another job that respects you and your health. If they say ok, well add more resources then it's Okey dokey, if they say "nobody cares, work harder" find another job.

Edited to correct a typo

I tried stimulants to work harder and then I was like "Who the fuck am I doing this for?" They won't pay me more just because I'm sleeping less.

On top of that, I'm just bad at my job after a certain number of focused hours each day, stimulated or not.

A big realization that improved my quality of life was realizing that 4 hours of work while tired can easily equate to 15 minutes of work the next day.

Why are you working long hours? Who is telling you to do that?

If your manager expects you to work long hours, then your manager sucks, and you should start looking for a different team.

If you expect you to work long hours, then you need to change your priorities.

Decide how much work time your life can sustain. Set your hours and stick to them. If you do a reasonable amount of work at a reasonable pace, and the project falls behind anyway, that is not your problem: it is the project manager's problem. They can find more resources, change the scope, change the schedule, whatever they need to do; that's literally their job, and not yours. It's certainly not your job to magically bring an unworkable plan into reality through superhuman effort.

When your work is done, turn off your work machine, log out of email, and go do something else. Do not open your email until you are ready to start working again: dealing with work mail is work.

> I need to figure out how to feel comfortable working less in ways that don’t mentally feel like it’s impacting my work while also figuring out how to live my life outside of a screen.

If you want to work less you'll have to spend less time working. Considering your current workload, this might actually contribute to your productivity while you are working, but even if not, I highly doubt not working more will make it to your Big List of Regrets. Maybe your boss or colleagues will try to pressure you to working more, to make their lives easier or to feel better about their own lack of work-life balance; either learn to deal with / ignore it or find a place more compatible with your boundaries.

My best recommendation is to start looking for stuff you like doing. Cast a wide net - try social meetups, tabletop gaming groups, physical activities, music, anything you can imagine you might enjoy (and some things you can't imagine yourself doing). Hopefully you'll find something you enjoy so much, work-life balance will spring as a side effect of wanting to do that thing.

As others have mentioned, this job may not be compatible with your needs. Are you willing to give up this job for one that better fits your needs? You might be able to renegotiate your workload. If you have a supportive manager, talking to them would be the place to start.

Do you consider yourself an assertive person? You will need to start setting boundaries with work. That requires saying No and speaking up for what's realistic for you. This is a skill that will take time to develop but will pay off in so many other areas of your life.

Dude at least you go to parties.

You need to associate with people that can thoroughly convince you that stimulants are working against you.

Even caffeine can make you pay more of a price so you do have to watch it.

This is classic burnout. I would set timers like start work a 8:30 AM, take 10 minutes breaks every hour or two, eat lunch away from your work, and stop working at 5 PM.

Set boundaries and stick to them.

What happens if you stop working long hours?

I'd be looking there first.

kudos for identifying the root cause of the situation - leetcode.

that aside, it all begins with saying no and only taking on a realistic workload.

saying no and negotiating are key skills we all need. unfortunately a lot of us go along with any ridiculous demands, including leetcode interviews.