It’s a good time to be a coder — employers can’t find as many as they need and pay is healthy — but Bort says their life is made difficult by two things: a nagging sense that they’re not as good as they should be, and the idea that the real stars do little else but code night and day.
The first idea she tags “the imposter syndrome,” the nagging sense that all of your colleagues are harder workers, more talented, more skilled and generally smarter than you are. The second, let’s call the “joy of coding syndrome.” That’s the idea that the best programmers are so enamored of their craft that they want to do little else but create software both in and out of work.
It could be that one thing leads to another here: If you’re feeling like you’re an imposter, you’re going to try to emulate the people who’ve got the real talent. They, you come to believe, see code as life. They’ll work 80 hours a week because they’re getting to do what they love. If they weren’t working 80 hours a week, they’d just go home and code anyway. “That programmers are expected to work insanely long hours isn’t new,” Bort notes. “But this idea that they are doing it of their own accord, for the sheer joy of it, is new.”
Are the best programmers codeaholics? Maybe not. A Stanford University study found that working extra-long hours leads to less-than-ideal productivity. Coders who worked 60 hours a week often produced code of lesser quality than those who worked 40 hours a week.
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