So, it has been a year and a half since I last went ridiculously overboard as geeks are wont to do, and sacrificed sleep and sanity for a dream. In the end I went to SF anyway, and the whole thing was Most Definitely Worth It.
Now, fast-forward, and I'm doing it again, professionally this time, meaning that it's not my Big Idea that I'm working on - it's Mr. Architect who has the visions - but it is my team, and to Serve with Comrades in the hope of a Bright Shining Future is the lifeblood of all (knowledge-) workers, n'est pas? Вся власть народу трудовому! etc.
Given that some time has passed, I feel it necessary to add and/or emphasize certain elements of the previous list, based on experience:
- I said that Exhaustion drastically affects quality of work and this is true, but it also affects morale. This is why having great people in your team is important.
- Food and coffee, both still important, but food more than ever. Something that deserves emphasis is that lots of fresh fruit and vegetables makes an incredible difference to state of mind. This stuff is healthy, dagnamnit, so no more McQuick!
- Still true
- Still true
- Sleep: cutting out sleep is bad, of course, but sleep patterns and schedules can be modified to tune for maximum productivity. One of the biggest gains is to be had by going to bed early (like I'm not, today) and waking up early too. Getting to work at closer to 07:00 than 09:00 gives you an appreciable chunk of highly productive time.
- Still true.
- This point - support mechanisms - deserves to be expanded much more.
Crunch mode doesn't work for more than a couple of months, but for short periods of time we do it anyway, because once the visceral fear of missing a real Dead Line takes hold, people tend to go into overdrive as an evolved response to high-pressure environments.
One of the biggest symptoms of increased work pressure is sacrifices made in other parts of one's life - relationships, interests, etc. This is not good because these things are all psychological support mechanisms that you need to leverage if you want to be able to push yourself to extremes.
This is why energy is so important: not only are you working harder than normal, you should also be relaxing harder than normal as well. Dependent or abusive mechanisms will simply make things worse in this situation. High pressure at work in turn puts pressure on everything else in your life, and everything has to withstand.
Thankfully I have great friends, a great family, and a Deity (to help with debugging :-), so with their love and understanding I'm dealing with everything fine. So far...