Sustainable pace is an important characteristic of software development. No matter what today’s firedrill is all about, there’s still another deadline tomorrow, another project next month, and maybe even another job next year. You have to be in this for the long haul.
Can you hold a full glass of water in your outstretched hand level with your shoulder? Sure you can. Now can you keep it there for an hour? All day? All week? Didn’t think so.
In one of our upcoming books, Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management, authors and well-known consultants Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby observe:
Most people can work about 40-45 hours per week as a sustainable pace. Yes, it’s possible more hours than 45 hours per week for a week or two. But any longer than that and you court burnout, mistakes, and lower productivity.
But don’t take our word for it: there’s research (Chapman 1909) (Sidney J. Chapman, ‘Hours of Labour’ (Economic Journal, September, 1909, footnote 1, pp. 363-365)) that supports a 40-hour week. As far back as 1909, researchers noticed that people how worked more than 40 hours a week had lower productivity. Working at a sustainable pace of 40 hours a week isn’t molly-coddling. It’s a smart business decision.
And as I’ve suggested before (and especially at the creation of the agile alliance, where this idea became a part of the manifesto), sustainable pace applies to everyone involved in the project: developers, managers, customers, stakeholders. If your stakeholders are swamped trying to evaluate your latest screens, that’s as big a problem as it is if you are swamped writing them.
So how can we possibly get everything done that needs to be done?
That’s part of the art of management. But overwork isn’t one of answers. By the way, if you’re interested in being a pre-publication reviewer for this book, please drop me an e-mail with your name, snail mail address, and a brief (really) paragraph outlining your experience and areas of expertise.
I probably won’t be able to accommodate everyone, so first come first served! Thanks. NOTE: This review is now closed