Work-life balance (WLB) is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one's career and the demands of one's personal life. Having too many responsibilities at work is the primary cause of poor WLB.
I just started my software engineer journey and have a typical 9 - 6 working schedule. I feel like the time is getting so limited after I get back home. My goal is to keep some personal time for learning and personal projects every day but still achieve a good balance.
Genuinely look for time management or scheduling advice for newbies in the industry. Thanks a lot!
One of my friends recently shared with me that their team works 18-19 hours a day, including weekends. Is this a common practice? I'm interested in working on impactful and useful projects at a big tech or Tier 1 company. Is this level of commitment expected from engineers who are working on exceptionally valuable features or components within the company?
My friend mentioned that their team is composed of individuals with high IQs but low EQs. They suggested that if you find the work interesting and fulfilling, the long hours shouldn't be a problem. I've never worked in big tech or in the Bay Area, but I'm keen on joining a Tier 1 company. However, hearing about this work schedule has made me question whether it's worth sacrificing work-life balance. Is this level of commitment typically expected in order to earn a higher salary or to secure a position at FAANG+ companies?
I have 2 other developers working with me on a critical project, plus my mental + physical health is not so good.
I really want to move to a more relaxed workplace, but I feel deadlocked. I'm unable to carve out time from my job.
I have recently not been performing as well as I did last year/early this year due to my mental health and some changes in my personal life, and my manager noticed that too. I got promoted this year only, and if my performance drops, I get compared to my performance last year which led to my promotion. So if I try to avoid work, I'll be noticed further.
This is not a typical question for Taro community, but l'm here to vent, and looking for honest advice. I'm a working mother at one of MAANG companies. I am a senior engineer, and currently working in a very competitive team that has very poor work life balance. I love my project and l've been getting good ratings so far and everyone is happy with my performance whether it's my manager, TL, DS, PM or XFN partners, according to their feedback for me during PSC.
However, I've been mentally stressed for months now about meeting the expectations and finishing my work while also meeting my kids expectations and having to deal with their emotions and other stuff, taking them to activities and playdates, ... etc and I don't get much help from my husband due to his larger responsibilities at work. I don't Iike to be an average engineer, as l've been used to excelling in my studies and work, it's a mental thing, perfectionism I believe. Should I just quit my job and look for a more relaxed one, if it exists? I’m at a good point in my career now and have already built very good relationships with everyone, and I’m afraid if I will regret this decision later if I don’t find a good alternative.
How to effectively manage work pressure while dealing with health issues? I have taken steps to reduce my work velocity in order to prioritize my health, which was agreed upon with my manager.
However, one of the leads continues to place significant work pressure on me, despite my direct communication about the situation. It is disheartening to experience this situation, especially considering that I received a top rating after my first year at the company. Is it common to encounter such challenges in enterprise companies, even as a high-performing employee? Unfortunately, the senior leadership team has not taken sufficient actions to address this problem.
Additionally, as I am currently on a visa, changing jobs or switching teams is not an option for me at this point. I would greatly appreciate any guidance on how to handle this situation effectively.
I’ve been a senior FEE at Amazon for almost a year now, and I’m still figuring out time management.
Sometimes I get overly involved in others’ tasks, or have too many meetings, or get overwhelmed by all the new campaigns and estimation requests constantly coming through the door while we’re in the middle of meeting deadlines.
How do senior FAANG engineers balance their priorities without overworking or burning out?
P.S. it’d be amazing if Taro can get Steve Huynh (PE at Amazon) to talk about this topic in detail.
I just started my first job out of college as a Data Scientist over a month ago. The team I got assigned to was formed just recently after a reorg and is somewhat of a mess. I feel like our team is responsible for a lot of the repetitive, low-value, and uninteresting work (i.e a lot of boilerplate SQL with inefficient cross-functional processes) that other teams don't want. Also all the ICs on our team are either new to the company or new to this product line so the team has been struggling trying to ramp up. We also have to deliver projects to our internal clients under very tight deadlines so the stress level is always high. However I do love the company and my internship on another team last year was great, so I would like to stay in this company for at least the next 2-3 years. I know the best thing for me right now is probably to keep my head down and become good at my job. However, it would be great if I can get some perspective on how to navigate this situation and stand out under this kind of circumstance. What would be the best for me both in terms of short and long-term growth?
Thanks so much for taking the time!
As an intern undertaking my first industry-relevant experience, I often find myself drawn to continue working on projects beyond my scheduled work hours. Should this extra time be considered overtime and discussed with my manager, or is it expected to be unpaid and regarded as a personal choice?
I'm currently working in a product which was ramped down from 19 members to 5. All remaining 5 are new to product.
Current state is:
When i initially started with this project, I thought it would slow down, but there are spikes at times which results in working at whole weekends (Happened four times in 2 months).
Should I leave this product and try to move to other product or company where i should look for balanced work and timeline, product with active development or continue in current one with an hope it would slow down in near future?
What should I think about and focus my efforts on when I get a project and a role that's of (1) bigger scope and (2) tighter deadlines than I'm used to?
A reorg has suddenly thrust me into the TL role for a very high-profile project on a new team. This project is part of OKRs 4 levels up the chain and has the eyes of several director level people across different functions. From what I've heard, this project already suffered from "too many cooks in the kitchen" syndrome, and on top of that, this project has delivery date set in Q3, which is quite aggressive from our org's standards.
I've landed in this position because I was transitioning to this team prior to the reorg, AND the EM/TL/PM/2 L5s has been reorg'ed out, and they needed someone who had previously TL experience and was willing to do it.
I've previously TL'ed a team of 4 people, with important but "normal" priority projects. This is clearly a great opportunity for me, but I am afraid I'm not ready to handle it and I'm at a bit of loss as to what I should be focusing most of my effort on. With the tight deadlines I have, I feel like every day will be a battle so any advice on how to approach this will be appreciated.
I have one other L5 supporting me who I trust very much and a new EM who's rumored to be very good. We currently have 4 SWE including me and we'll be getting more at least 4 more engineers, with lots of adjacent teams helping out. I do also have good standing and connection in the org overall and I know how to get a "normal" project in our org over the line (I did an in-org transfer).
I have been working from home since 2020. From 2020-2021, I used to work in a healthcare startup with lots of responsibility, tons of work, crazy deadlines and needed to firefight incidents on a daily basis. The managers used to keep us on our toes and everyone was expected to put in more hours than the standard 40 hours/week. I was pretty much working most of my waking hours so productivity was not my concern. I did learn a lot but eventually burnt out.
I took a year off to do my masters and joined my present company in June 2022. It's a much bigger company with amazing culture, clear processes and I have very supportive and brilliant teammates. No one micromanages me. There is still good amount of responsibility and tons of work. In this environment I also want to give my best. While my productivity is great when in office, I do feel I am at 70-80% productivity level when working from home. We follow a hybrid model where we go to office twice a week.
Being in rent crazy Singapore, I do not have the luxury of having a separate office space at home. I do have a proper desk setup and enough things going on to be productive.
I want to be more productive in days I am WFH.
Have tried keeping up a schedule, wearing noise cancelling headphones, listening to binaural beats.
But nevertheless I do find myself on my bed after a couple of hours of work and it becomes difficult to resume work again. Also I tend to be hard on myself for taking that rest and the day just spirals from there.
I have tried working from cafes and even going to office every day. But along with going to gym, commutting and cooking healthy food I am too tired at the end of the day.
I really want to be more productive when WFH so that I can also manage the other parts of my life well. My team doesn't care where I work as long as the work is done.
Would like some tips on how to be a better remote worker and manage the entire day better.
I’ve been feeling burnt out at my job in the sense of having barely any passion or motivation left for the work. After taking some time off on multiple occasions, I find that I fall back into the same place a couple of weeks into working again. Has anyone experienced this consistent state of feeling burnt out and were you able to overcome it? If so, how did you do it?
My team took over a system that we didn't write about a year ago, and it is the only system my team owns. It is a highly critical service in my org.
I was happily making changes to it all of last year, but I broke production twice in a few months, and then almost a third time, and now I have lost faith in my coding ability.
The benefits are that it prevented other teams from experiencing these issues and I took full ownership of resolving them, however, the outages seem to be something that is hanging over my EM's head in spite of it.
How do you get out of this rut?
I recently joined a team of 20 people split across traditional software development, support personnel, storage engineering, security engineering and more and we're essentially supposed to sysadmin a large number of systems working ~70 hr weeks. The old team we're replacing did not handle well in this environment and it seems like my team needs to focus more so the storage engineers solve storage engineering problems, coders do coding etc so we can bail each other out of this hole faster. Any thoughts on how we can go about this? I'm working ~50hr weeks max and still perplexed at how these 70 hr weeks happen.
What does a typical day working as a software engineer (say mid-level) in FAANG look like? I know there are at least 2 important variables, namely a) the person (how good they are at managing time, how motivated they are, how good their technical and soft skills are, etc.) and b) the team and company they are on.
I'm curious about the nitty-gritty of it, namely how much time is spent coding, how much time in meetings, how much time for breaks and lunch, how common is it to work overtime, etc. I'm looking for both the good and the bad, not the shiny, social-media-friendly videos made by people.
I have read time and again (including from Alex) that many if not most FAANG engineers work evenings and weekends. I just read that today from an ex-Facebook LinkedIn influencer I follow who was talking about his own 1 (unpleasant) year there.
I know my question might be so broad as to be meaningless given the number of engineers and situations there are, but if I can get the day of "Joe or Jane average FAANG engineer" who spends 2-3 years and then leaves, that's what I'm looking for. Not the talented and ambitious few who are able to work long and smart and able to rise up the ranks to staff.
For context - I have recently left Amazon and I'm actively looking for another role that suits my lifestyle in terms of work/life balance as well as the interest during the job role. Given how the market is right now - I was wondering if it is better to get a contract role until you can get the opportunity that you find interesting or go for a full-time opportunity regardless?
I'm in a difficult situation right now and feel I need some time off to recover and manage, but am also concerned with optics.
I've been interviewing for new roles recently and spent my time off over the holidays (~2 weeks) preparing for a particularly stressful onsite interview. The team I was originally interviewing with no longer has an opening and I'm stuck waiting for headcount to open up and find a new team.
The stress of this situation has been taking a toll on me mentally and physically, and I've been dealing with a lot of health issues over the last month. I think it would be best for me to take at least a couple of weeks off to help reduce my stress and focus on maintaining my health. This isn't extremely extended, but amounts to more like a month off when factoring the recent 2 weeks off for the holidays.
After writing this out, it seems more cut-and-dry that I need to just ask and cite the health issues. I'd be curious to hear how others have navigated asking for extended time off.
I joined my current company a bit more than a year ago as an L4. Within 4 months, I'd launched a high stakes project, and after some churn in the team leadership, I was put into the role of being a tech lead to my remaining team of L3s.
As a pseudo TL, I did well in the mentorship and technical guidance responsibilities, but my code output dropped drastically (due to my projects being in the design phase which were being done by my juniors with me providing high level guidance).
In the last three months, I suffered some mental health issues. My work productivity dropped significantly during that time. I've been very open with my manager about my mental state throughout this process, and they've been very supportive of the things I need to do to recover. Around this time my team also hired an L5, who is now officially the TL.
Due to my drop in performance in the latter half of the year, I'm afraid my manager won't trust me with important projects. I wonder if I need to again prove my credentials to keep me on track for L5. I feel very low about my software development abilities.
This has made me demotivated and disinterested in my work. I took a couple weeks off, yet I don't feel like going back to work. I'm not considering changing teams due to immigration issues. I also don't want to leave a team on a low.
Any tips on turning around my motivation, and trajectory on the team? What can I change in my mindset and working style to overcome my struggles?
I wanted to ask people to how to handle stress at work especially after a company layoff with fewer people around?
Is it a good idea to plan time-off around busy periods at work especially after a tech layoff when workloads may have increased for remaining employees?
Given all of the tech layoff, my company also conducted ~10% layoff earlier this month. I am not directly impacted by the layoff as a Senior SWE. But due to the layoff and reorganization, I found that I have become the official go-to person when it comes to Production system issue for the backend and point of contact when it comes to troubleshooting 3rd party API and production issue triage person.
I just finished my first on-call rotation for production support last week, and it's kind of exhausting when I reported Production Incident that categorized as P1 and P2 incident, which resulted an outage due to 3rd party API. I got a lot questions from Product and Business to get updates on business impacts from this 3rd party API outage issue for the past couple days. In light of this, I found myself really need a break from the exhaust of the work. Any thoughts or suggestions on this?
I am currently burnt out and looking for ways to take a break.
Looking at Google's generous severance benefits, I had thoughts to inform my manager that I am up for the chopping block if there are any foresight of next round of layoffs. Which I think should be good for the company since I am also helping one motivated Googler to not be laid off in the future.
But then, I am afraid it might get rejected and my manager's relationship with me get strained.
Are there any suggestions on getting severance package while indicating my intent to resign?
I am currently not on PIP and is considered excellent performer. I was promoted to L5 in mid 2021
Michael Lin's blog discussed on the "preemptive severance package" which is relevant to what I am hoping to do
As a Senior software engineer working at a mid-size tech company, I’m still learning how to properly push back when others Sr SWE & managers or Directors from Web or Mobile team tried to get me to do tasks that do not match my own priority. As much as I like to be nice and support others, I agree that I can only do so much. I brought this up with my direct manager and my Director (L7 Senior Manager & L8 Director), and they told me to loop them in when I face overwhelming pressures from other engineers/ cross-functional teams. My direct manager also told me they wants me to be able to focus on big project initiative, and they see that I am on track to be the Tech Lead given my current trending.
While I do appreciate that my boss gives me words of assurance and direction and offered to step in to fend off those pressures during my one-on-one call, I recognize that I would have to be the person who is good on establish priorities and be able to push back on people. I cannot really rely on my boss to do the push-back to fend off the pressure given that with the recent layoff, we are short on staff.
Wanted to get some thoughts and suggestions on "How can I push back diplomatically against an overwhelming amount of tasks"?
Some background about my experience. I have overall 10 years of experience out of which first 3 years was in Service based company in India and then 6 years at Amazon/AWS and around 9 months at Meta. I got promoted to Sr. position almost 3 years ago and have been working as Sr. Engineer since then.
Since few months before my promotion I am feeling bit burnt out. Promotion came after lot of hard work and honestly the compensation increment was totally underwhelming. So I interviewed and switched and comp increase was really good but I am not liking work culture now. This made me sort of realize few things:
Now I want to get out of this job→money→stress→new job→money→stress cycle but don’t know how. I am planning to move back to India after few months and was hoping to start may be freelancing or some consulting work where I can control my time. I am more than happy to take a pay cut. So I started doing some research:
Now last option for me is to find a job which pays less and have less stress which will be okay. I can most certainly say screw it and not worry about getting promoted. But then I don’t know if that’ll be satisfactory, it’ll be more like I accepted defeat and ducked out of rat race but I still have no direction to go on.
Sorry if this all sounds like a rant, but I would love to have some guidance from people who have been in similar situation. What did you guys do and do you have any suggestions for me?
My manager and I have been owning the on-call rotation for the backend/platform for my company's flagship product that we launched recently. The rotation of 2-3 engineers is hectic and overwhelming, and my manager and I have brought up this issue, and finally got the acknowledge from the rest of the organization that more engineers needed to be added into the on-call rotation to form a healthy on-call? Is 8-10 engineer on-call rotation a healthy rotation?
Apologies in advance for a long question. Not sure how to ask this question without providing deeper context.
I’ve been working with my current manager for the last 1.5 years. While they have recently helped me get promoted to Senior, it’s been a constant struggle. I dread our 1:1 almost every single week because it always run overtime and we are often still not on the same page.
I see two major issues that haven’t notably improved in the times I’ve reported to them.
(1) My manager isn’t able to coach me, or any of the SWEs on the team. My manager doesn’t seem confident when we have career discussions - I recently asked them what they thought was the difference between good TL and a great one, and they struggled to coherently answer this. Instead, they said they would know better after the next performance calibration. Additionally, none of my teammate has gotten proper coaching either. For example, a teammate struggled to submit code due to their poor code quality and thus had low CL velocity, so my Manager simply told them to submit more CLs, which only made them more stressed without a legitimate way to improve.
(2) My manager lacks technical understanding of our projects and constantly pushes for speed. My manager was externally hired, and to this day, they don’t really understand the complexity of the work our team does. I understand EMs don’t need to contribute code directly, but my manager almost always underestimate how complicated the projects our team takes on are. As engineers, we frequently have to defend our timelines, which is not only frustrating but also pressures some teammates to favor suboptimal design or hastily done CLs that just causes even more churn.
The weird part is, my manager often seem unaware of their own actions, and when I talk to them about these issues, they are always receptive to feedback and seem willing to improve. However, I simply haven’t seen enough improvement in the last 1.5 years.
I could leave, since this is having an impact on my emotional well-being. But I do have good standing w/ my own team and the overall org, and I want to use this situation to learn as much as I could. I know that I myself have a lot to learn as a tech lead (Thanks for , it’s really helpful), and I know I can probably get a bit ahead of our projects and start estimating/de-risking earlier, so my Manager doesn’t get overly aggressive with timelines. I know I can also take this chance to more closely mentor my teammates and help them succeed, since they aren’t really getting it from our manager.
I want to stay, but is it the wrong decision because I have little career support from my manager? If I do stay, what should I focus on so I can really help my team and at the same time learn something valuable for my career?
Say a recruiter from Series C reaches out to you for a SWE role.
What all are the questions that one should ask in order to do the understand the potential of the startup so that there is less risk of layoffs when joining there, given the uncertain times.
I am aware of crunchbase website and looking at the news article that are linked there. What other homework one should during/before/after the interview process in terms of questions to ask, information to collect?
The limitation that is usually is the startups have very few employees so it is difficult to get concrete answers about the culture, WLB, actual work unless you are in their network.
I am an L4 engineer with decent knowledge of my team's stack.
What are some actions I can take to meet expectations in my current role for the next few years, while minimizing the amount of time I spend on work?
Given that I'm not shooting for a promotion, does that change how I should approach relationship building with senior folks on the team? There is a lot of advice on Taro about relationship building, but it appears to be aimed at folks who wish to promote quickly.
Often I feel mentally and physically exhausted heading home from work. I started at the company 2 months ago and in total, I have just under a year’s experience working in industry. Maybe it’s because things are quite new, or is this a sign that I’m needlessly struggling?
I try to laser in on what I’m meant to be doing, so I can get code running and testing asap but reading code takes up more time than I’d like, as I try and figure out what the service is actually doing, not only in terms of code but in the context it’s meant to be used in- It’s a systematic hedge fund and finance is new to me.
There's too much work on my plate, which is made worse by the nature of our team's product:
What can I do to make things more doable?
One thing I'd love to ask about is effective pressure management. Coming from small cos to a big company like Meta; despite startups having a reputation for chaos, I personally find there's a larger number of failure modes at big companies - a review taking too long, lack of good logging, misalignment, which can lead to either a project being derailed or just flat out failing. I've personally gotten better myself at pressure management (trial by fire); but would love to have thoughts from folks on how they work on this skill!
It's just my first month and my manager said I had to improve a lot because his expectations for a senior engineer is much higher, not just technically but also behaviourally.
I'm feeling anxious because I was in a pretty laid back company before and the rapid pace of a startup took me off-guard. I'm trying to push through by working longer hours but I don't think I'd be able to reach my manager's expectations.
It's causing me anxiety just by thinking about my job. Is it ok to leave a job even if I don't have anything lined up yet? I'm trying to review to get a new job but the long hours are taking up my personal time. What could be my options?
I'm relatively new to software so would love to understand more here. In particular, what does it look like at Big Tech compared to other companies? My goal is to eventually transition into a Big Tech company - Do you always need to work 60+ hours a week to do well there?
I work overtime a lot, and it's pretty stressful. I'm also worried that amidst all this effort working for Meta, I'll lose track of who I am overall and what I can do for other companies. What can I do to strike a better balance here?
I'm in bootcamp right now, and many teams are telling me that they have all 3 of these things. My bootcamp mentor says that's not really feasible - There are trade-offs. Am I gullible if I believe these teams at face value?
Sometimes I feel like I didn't get 40 hours "worth" of productivity after a week, and it didn't make sense to physically spend 40 hours working that week. Is it possible to succeed as a software engineer working less than the traditional 40 hours? I imagine it requires being able to get the work done faster - What are some techniques to do that?
Does it get worse as you progress from L3 -> L4 -> L5 -> L6 -> etc? Intuitively that seems like what would happen as your scope grows across promotions: Is there more overtime associated with the more senior levels?
I'm trying to figure out how to have a better disconnect between work and outside of work. Sometimes I'll get carried away on a task and I'll work pretty late on it, which negatively affects my sleep schedule. It’s all been kind of blurred, I can’t even remember when I stopped working sometimes. I'm also working with people in different time zones, so I'll work later than the traditional 9 to 5.
Overall, it's not too bad though. I'm mostly not working weekends, and this is mainly a thing on me: I don't have external pressure/crazy deadlines to overwork.
I'm looking to leave my current team, as I don't find the work to be interesting: I spend ~50% of my time on ops work.
I want to choose the right team that’s interesting to me, but it's tricky as I don’t exactly know what I want to work on. I just know that I want to work on the back-end and on a team where learning opportunities are flexible. During team matching, what kind of things would you look for in a team?
My priorities are as follows:
I spend a lot of time on oncall. There's just 3 engineers on the oncall schedule (2 other back-end engineers and myself), so we're all oncall once every 3 weeks. We hired 2 people and are looking to onboard them into the rotation later in the summer, so it will become once every 5 weeks for oncall soon-ish.
Psychologically, the oncall is very draining as I'm constantly fearing what’s going to happen. For example, I can't work out at the gym in peace as I'm constantly on high-alert in case an issue pops up. How can I have better work-life balance and less stress with this situation?
I’m married with two kids. It’s important that I spend time with my family, while also doing well in my career. Do you have thoughts on growing my career without burning the midnight oil?