One of the most abused practice of XP has been Sustainable work week. Pretty much everybody agrees it is the right thing to do, but nobody actually does it (or that’s what I’ve seen)
The XP book talks about 40 hrs work week, but most people dub it as Sustainable work pace. This gives people the ability to set their work pace at 50 hrs a week or less or whatever, but it also acknowledges the fact that people are different, and one rule can’t fit all.
I <3 programming, so I spend a lot of time writing and thinking of writing code, and making myself a better programmer.
IMHO, Writing more code, and spending more time writing code does not make you are better programmer. It is the practice of programming by trying different approaches to a problem and experimenting with tools (and adding to your toolkit or discarding them) that makes you better. The analogy being, driving to work and home does not make you a better driver.
So I definitely do lot more than 40 hrs a week, sometimes 60 hrs a week, not sleeping by the excitement of implementing a faster way of finding Recommendations, or different way of Visualizing an interesting data set, or some silly stupid hack that has no value. I like it that way. Is it sustainable? I’ve been doing this for a long time now and have no intention to reduce it. (I know what you are thinking!!! Yes I am a pretty slow). Is it ideal, heck no. But I believe (and I may be completely wrong on this one) I’ve developed workarounds to deal with the side effects of “Unsustainable pace”
What definitely helps is doing stuff that exerts the body, like running, cycling and playing squash with friends. Fitter people are anecdotally better equipped to deal with mental stresses of work and broken code. And yeah that constant dose of mindless Telugu movies with my wife.
One of the big things that helps me is taking longer breaks from work, like going out traveling for a few weeks or months. Invariably I have come back refreshed and with new and interesting ideas. This trick always works.
What’s your strategy to cope with excess time at work?