March 4, 2013

"But working your tail off to get the job done doesn’t have the same cachet here that it has in the United States."

"The first thing an American friend warned me upon moving to London was never to brag about pulling an all-nighter. 'People will think you’re insane,' she confided."

80 comments:

BigFire said...

Euro Slackers.

MadisonMan said...

Bragging about pulling an all-nighter doesn't mean you're insane, it means you're insufferably proud of how "hard" you are "working" through the night.

My reaction would be, to someone saying they pulled an all-nighter: Why did you leave it to the last minute?

EMD said...

"Former" global power indeed.

rhhardin said...

You can get a play-for-pay job if you're some kind of technical geek, and then nobody keeps track.

Shouting Thomas said...

The author never bothers to tell you what she does. Here's what it is:

I’m Senior Policy Manager at BBC Media Action, an international charity that supports media and communications in development. Before that, I worked for a decade in radio, print and Online journalism. I hold a PhD in political science and have taught at both the University and secondary school level in the U.S. and the U.K. I blog about adulthood at www.realdelia.com and about women and politics at The Washington Post’s She The People blog.

She's another diversity political hack. What in the world would she do if she stayed up all night?

Ann Althouse said...

"Bragging about pulling an all-nighter doesn't mean you're insane, it means you're insufferably proud of how "hard" you are "working" through the night."

You're admitting you managed your time badly or you're not good enough to get things done quickly and that you're now sleep-deprived, making you less valuable for the work you're supposed to do today.

BTW, I've never in my life pulled an all-nighter. Is it okay to be proud of that?

I once stayed up until 3 a.m. writing a take-home exam, which was my last law school exam (and I had a near-newborn baby at the time).

Shouting Thomas said...

BTW, I've never in my life pulled an all-nighter. Is it okay to be proud of that?

You're welcome to be proud of that. I'm not going to knock your achievements, which are obvious.

But, you've got a cushy, secure position that few of us can ever hope to attain.

Most of us have to hustle. It's been a hell of a long time since you've been in touch with that reality. Not complaining. I chose the life I live.

Ann Althouse said...

"But, you've got a cushy, secure position that few of us can ever hope to attain."

Some jobs pay off in the long run. You take less pay and do more work at some point and later it's very rewarding.

I took a 30% pay cut to move from my law firm position to this job, but I analyzed it in terms of the entire career, including intangible benefits. And of course, during the period when I was a law student, it was costing me money and I was working extremely hard.

People make different choices, long and short term. It's not accurate to judge everyone from where they are right now. What was the whole sequence of choices? What were the sacrifices along the way?

Bryan C said...

"My reaction would be, to someone saying they pulled an all-nighter: Why did you leave it to the last minute?"

Sadly some work doesn't appear until the last minute. At least not from the perspective of the person pulling the all-nighter.

Shouting Thomas said...

I've had several jobs for life. Ultimately, each one bored the hell out of me. I left to seek something more interesting, something that made my blood and adrenalin run.

Not something I'd recommend, but it suits me.

Could have made a lot more money and been secure by sticking it out in the job for life. No doubt about that.

EMD said...

You're admitting you managed your time badly or you're not good enough to get things done quickly and that you're now sleep-deprived, making you less valuable for the work you're supposed to do today.

Or others have managed their time and workload and badly and now you have to clean up their mess.

Or your clients suck.

Larry J said...

Good old England. 30 years behind America and working hard 3 days a week to catch up.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

You're admitting you managed your time badly or you're not good enough to get things done quickly and that you're now sleep-deprived, making you less valuable for the work you're supposed to do today.

No, it sometimes means once you start something, you follow it through. Some things can be very time-consuming; and some managers can be exceedingly inconsiderate (and/or ignorant) of that fact.

BTW, I've never in my life pulled an all-nighter. Is it okay to be proud of that?

Neither have I, it's no biggie to me one way or t'other.

The Blonde OTOH has stayed over when needed. She chalks it up to being "old school".

I once stayed up until 3 a.m. writing a take-home exam, which was my last law school exam (and I had a near-newborn baby at the time).

Iconic Althouse

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

MadisonMan,

My reaction would be, to someone saying they pulled an all-nighter: Why did you leave it to the last minute?

Because, as we say chez Thomson, "If you leve everything to the last minute, then everything only takes a minute to do!"

Kit said...

You're admitting you managed your time badly or you're not good enough to get things done quickly and that you're now sleep-deprived, making you less valuable for the work you're supposed to do today.

Or others have managed their time and workload and badly and now you have to clean up their mess.

Or your clients suck.


Or a project where the technology available was woefully inadequate for the deadline.

Ann Althouse said...

"I've had several jobs for life. Ultimately, each one bored the hell out of me. I left to seek something more interesting, something that made my blood and adrenalin run."

Sounds like the way people talk about marriage vs. affairs.

Take responsibility for your own choices.

Some people like stability and serenity. Some like thrills.

If you're a big thrills person, you have to deal with the downside too.

Tibore said...

Well, on the one hand, I don't like the attitude that it's supposedly insane to sacrifice in order to get something done. Sometimes, you just have to put in your time outside of standard work hours, and sometimes you've got to put a larger share in than normal. Not everything comes at you steady-state; there will be ebbs and flows, and you sometimes get caught when the tide of responsibilities rises.

On the other hand, there's something to be said about intelligent time management and also avoiding burnout. How many people who've pulled an all-nighter have done so because they've not gotten things done properly prior to that? I have to raise my hand to that; in all my years, I've only once legitimately worked late (wasn't even an all nighter) because the work came in then and I had been responsibly keeping up before that. All other circumstances (pretty much all academic work in college) was due to my not getting it done during the day. And from talking to others, I feel that's representative of most people: We pull all nighters mostly because we don't manage time wisely during the day. While not unheard of, it's simply a rare event to have to do it for other reasons. And if people are doing so regularly, perhaps they're being inefficient at what they're doing.

(Digression) Either it's that, or their workplace is putting an excessive regular demand on them that's better addressed via redistribution of responsibilities, or additional resources/staffing. Yes, that's not easy - it costs money - but the choice to not address such risks "breaking" the staff member and making them seek greener pastures. That's exactly what happened to me back in 2000; 4 years of continually expected 50-70 hour weeks ended up just being too damn much. I had to leave.

Anyway, the point is made. It seems as though the attitude against "all nighters" is a bit too naive, plus it just feels like the antithesis of responsibility. On the other, there's good efficient work and there's busy inefficient work, and not all of us do a good job of making our lives fit the former, which forces us to seek solace in committing the latter and bragging about it. No, that's not everyone... but it's not no one either.

Shouting Thomas said...

You've really got to look at individual cases. The author is a diversity political hack. She doesn't have any real work to do. Nothing she does is responsive to the market. It's all grant, academic and other such make-work of the kind governments have devised for women.

So, what does this kind of shit have to do with "work ethic?"

She's just pretending to work, and the government and foundations are giving her money to pretend.

I can't imagine what she does to fill up her usual working day.

Ann Althouse said...

As for boredom, I have had the same job since 1984 and it has never been boring because it's a job where pursuing what is worth doing and what is interesting is built into the kind of work that it is.

The notion that any stable job will be boring is wrong.

Changing from one thing to another as if that will solve your problem of getting bored... that's probably only a short-term fix.

Shouting Thomas said...

Take responsibility for your own choices.

I did precisely that, didn't I?

If you're a big thrills person, you have to deal with the downside too.

Among my "thrills" was working for a couple of dot-coms that developed the technology that make your blog work.

The downside of the job for life, Althouse, is that it always entails have the thumb of some useless woman who graduated from the Diversity indoctrination on your throat. I wouldn't much care to be under your thumb either.

What I really chose was independence, instead of the S&M game of playing with useless women.

Shouting Thomas said...

The dot-com biz was entirely staffed by enterprising, entrepreneurial men.

Never met a women there. Not once.

They all wanted some S&M management job, or a policy job in law.

virgil xenophon said...

I'll echo the "Euro-Slacker" bit--at least circa 60s, 70s when I was stationed in the UK in the USAF 5o the extent I assoc. with the local academic/professional community in London & Ipswitch..

The old joke used to be that the only people one found in the college libraries late at night were the US grad & Jr/yr abroad students--all the locals were out drinking, lol.

Shouting Thomas said...

"Thrills" = action, adventure, real work, entrepreneurial risk taking, technological innovation, hard knowledge, etc.

All the things that most women aren't interested in and won't do.

Women want to play the S&M game of office politics.


Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I've done a few all-nighters. Mostly they were my own fault, though one involved a technical wipeout in an online journal I was involved in publishing. (I'm not a programmer; I was writing, editing, and FTPing to the site, that's all, and there was a glitch that wiped out a lot of the work, so a lot had suddenly to be done over.)

Ann, I don't recommend the experience. Oddly, it's possible to get through most of the next day without falling asleep, but it feels very strange. The first time I did one -- this was over a paper in grad school -- I spent the next day feeling as lightheaded as I did once when I was running a fever of 104. I managed to get through the seminar at which I was reading the paper, but I felt as though I was watching myself read it from a great distance. Weird.

MadisonMan said...

Euroslackers mostly live in Greece, I have found. I was there once for work, for a week. I was astonished how little the bureaucrats actually worked in the Govt Agency that is exactly parallel to one I work with routinely in the USA, and the USA Agency is staffed with very hard working people.

MadisonMan said...

My one all-nighter was in 10th grade. I was the typist for a group project. The various parts were not delivered as promised. Typing all night is an exercise in watching the errors grow as it gets later and later. Thank goodness for that eraseable typing paper.

My Dad still has that typewriter, I think. He used it in grad school in the 40s.

virgil xenophon said...

And Ann is right about trade-offs. As someone who grew up on a college campus as a child of professors, academia does have its charms--the cultural enrichment of theatre, music, art galleries, the library facilities, outside speakers/entertainers, college sports plus personal training facilities (tennis, golf, swimming, etc)--all to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace...not to mention the robust (to put it mildly) state-sponsored health and retirement plans..

edutcher said...

Shouting Thomas said...

"Thrills" = action, adventure, real work, entrepreneurial risk taking, technological innovation, hard knowledge, etc.

All the things that most women aren't interested in and won't do.

Women want to play the S&M game of office politics.


Are you saying Ann's life is one big episode of 50 Shades Of Gray?

:0

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I've done a few all-nighters. Mostly they were my own fault, though one involved a technical wipeout in an online journal I was involved in publishing. (I'm not a programmer; I was writing, editing, and FTPing to the site, that's all, and there was a glitch that wiped out a lot of the work, so a lot had suddenly to be done over.)

Ann, I don't recommend the experience. Oddly, it's possible to get through most of the next day without falling asleep, but it feels very strange. The first time I did one -- this was over a paper in grad school -- I spent the next day feeling as lightheaded as I did once when I was running a fever of 104. I managed to get through the seminar at which I was reading the paper, but I felt as though I was watching myself read it from a great distance. Weird.


And, the older you get, the harder they are to recover from.

Tibore said...

"Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
... I was writing, editing, and FTPing to the site, that's all, and there was a glitch that wiped out a lot of the work, so a lot had suddenly to be done over."


OUCH! And: That's similar to my one legit late (not all) nighter: One of our file storage arrays had multiple hardware failures (the controller card, a couple of the disks itself simultaneously, etc.), and was simply not recoverable via replacement of the controller and parity recovery of data. While production, it was an old enough system (2 generations behind what manufacturers were offering back then) to where the then current administrators inheriting it saw the potential recovery difficulties and agitated HARD for replacement. They got an inarguable piece of support that night!

Michael K said...

Once, many years ago when I was just getting started in my surgical career, we were out to dinner with a surgeon from Australia. I hadn't been bragging about how hard I was working but he commented to my wife that I worked far too hard. Surgery practice in Australia was much more relaxed but the Labour Party came long 20 years later and cratered the health care system. It took years to recover. I was there shortly after it happened.

I did put in long hours and a disproportionate share always seemed to be treating the uninsured and illegal. It was the price of success but it isn't anymore and the system has changed a lot. You will learn how much if you are in a bad accident in a few years. Shortly before I quit the trauma center, I worked two 40 hour days, not weeks, days.

Jeff Teal said...

At my job we have a a name for people who won't do what is necessary for the job-unemployed

Craig Landon said...

In many aspects of the military profession, there is no such thing as day or night as time metrics.

Larry J said...

I pulled a lot of all nighters in the military. It was called putting the mission first. We did what we had to do.

In the private sector, people who value their jobs put in the hours needed to meet their deadlines. My late brother - a master machinist and welder - once put in 40 hours of regular time and 104 hours of overtime in a single week. There are 168 hours in a week so you can do the math. He did what had to be done.

If your job isn't important enough for you to put in whatever hours are necessary, then your job must not be very important.

SOJO said...

I pull all-nighters all the time. In college it was because I had a life.

Now, it's not because I manage my time badly, but because I tend to to do about 3x more than is necessary, which fits right in with the UK people thinking you are crazy. They're right.

This didn't become fully obvious to me until I started doing group projects. It was just ... WOAH. Most people don't do shit. No wonder I got super high grades. You can get the same grades and still do a lot less.

I completely admire the people who don't do shit, btw. I know they are being wiser about it and saving their health, but I have some kind of obsessive compulsive geek gene thing and can't let it go. I need therapy. It's like when I asked my dad to explain an algebra problem to me in 7th grade - he kept me in there explaining all the way to the trig and calculus level.

And while I bragged about it in college (the bragging was about turning in quality work in such a short period of time under the gun), I would never brag about it now. It's totally different.

I have to say though, that as usual, Althouse is being harsh. Just because the circumstances of her life seems to have been mostly under her control, not everyone is that fortunate. Yes, some people make bad choices, but many do not and still get burdened beyond their load capacity. She needs to learn empathy and kindness.

It's times like these that I wish I believed in an afterlife, so people could learn that one lesson, but I don't.

virgil xenophon said...

In the USAF the official standard "workday" for a pilot is (or used to be) 16 hours...but pilots have to get some crew-rest--unfortunately the same can't be said for the maint. & other support types in a combat zone..

LarsPorsena said...

"...
My reaction would be, to someone saying they pulled an all-nighter: Why did you leave it to the last minute?.."

-------------------------

Work expands to fill the time allotted.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I pulled a few all-nighters in college, but for extra-curricular activities, never for school-work.

The times that it happened, someone else was managing the time.

AllenS said...

If you want to avoid frequent all-nighters, stay out of the Infantry.

AllenS said...

Larry beat me to it.

Rabel said...

If three years on the midnight shift counts, I've pulled about 750 all-nighters.

Colonel Angus said...

In the private sector, people who value their jobs put in the hours needed to meet their deadlines. My late brother - a master machinist and welder - once put in 40 hours of regular time and 104 hours of overtime in a single week. There are 168 hours in a week so you can do the math.

All that tells me is his employer was solely understaffed.

I think far too many think working 60-80 hours a week is some kind of badge of honor. As others have said, its more likely a sign of inefficiency if that is the norm. I used to work some heinous hours back in the day but that's the norm starting your own business.

Michael said...

I have had several all nighters in my long career, all in the beginining. And they had nothing to do with time management which would be the first thought of the life long academic wh permits lots of time for her students to get the job done. Actually, there are times when you are presented with an opportunity that requires a quick response time but professionally done. That opportunity might arise at ten in the morning with a binding offer due the next day at noon. What to do, oh what to do? Why you, and others, stay up all night and do the work.

Time management , indeed.

ALP said...

More than once, I have come across articles, etc...that explain we humans tend to optimistic when it comes to assessing our abilities, especially when it comes to judging how long it will take us to complete a task. Some reccomend that one take the time we have estimated for a task - then triple or quadruple that.

Over and over again I have seen coworkers underestimate the time it will take to finish something, and I am guilty of it myself.

This misplaced optimism, in conjuction with ineffective project management, is to blame for some all nighters. My BIL used to work for a gaming developer...he was always telling me that they consistenly underestimated production time, and each deliverable was inevitably rushed out the door at the last minute. Over and over.

It is also interesting to consider the all nighter in creative occupations. See the documentary about the creators of "South Park" and their method - most episodes are being transmitted to the sattelite just before air time! In a creative collaboration situation, you might want to push interations of your idea to the very limit. Although I feel for those poor front-line "South Park" animation workers....sleeping under their desks until Matt and Trey are happy with their concept!

Larry J said...


Colonel Angus said...

All that tells me is his employer was solely understaffed.


No, it was a crunch caused by their best customer dropping a large order with a short deadline on them. They wouldn't hire additional machinists and welders in that situation even if they could find them. It isn't as if there's a huge welder and machinist temp agency out there like for office workers. They pressed on and got the job done. That kind of thing used to be common in the days when people actually built stuff and weren't afraid to get their hands dirty.

Astro said...

Brits seem sensitive to US bragging. They seem to think we do it all the time. A quick survey of the WWII movies Hollywood made leaves the impression that we beat the Germans and the Japanese with little help from our allies, so that may be part of the reason.

I've known British engineers who had to work very long hours at times; maybe not all-nighters, but no one would call them slackers. They just didn't brag about it.
And usually they don't have any control over it; it's the program manager's job to schedule hours and manpower and release funds to support overtime work. The engineers are expected to be professionals about it and meet the 'shed-yules'.

ALP said...

Stories from my partner, an out of work mechanical engineer...

Much like the "Dilbert" cartoons, my partner worked in a situation where the sales team would give customers unrealistically short production times to keep the customer happy. So you start out with no wiggle room for problems. Then something breaks down - a key employee is in a car accident and laid up; flaws in the design that don't show up until production because that phase was rushed; that piece of lab equipment that was slated for replacement dies at the worst possible time (times like that is when your machines fail you).

Sometimes its screwed from the beginning due to unrealistic expectations...see my post above regarding optimism.

ALP said...

No, it was a crunch caused by their best customer dropping a large order with a short deadline on them.
****************
I am one of those careful planner types that would never agree to a crazy, short deadline like that. Far too many times, rushing results in errors that have to be fixed; in the end, the total production time ends up to be the more realistic longer time once you add up having to circle back and fix screw ups. Spend the time up front...or later. I'd rather be realitic and spend the time up front.

But then, I'd make a crappy sales person due to my inability to put lipstick on a pig.

Storkdoc said...

I pull all nighters all the time. I have repeatedly told my patients that babies are only to come between 9 to 5 Monday to Thursday and 9 to Noon on Fridays and never on the weekends.

But do they listen....noooooo The babies just come when they want.

Roger Zimmerman said...

At school, my all-nighters were almost exclusively to make up for procrastination.

However, early in my career (in automatic speech recognition R&D), before I had a family, I pulled all-nighters mainly because I was totally immersed in code-development (and, what was, ultimately, scientific experimentation) and didn't want to leave.

I was having fun at work, and had no other responsibilities - why should I stop?

Roger Zimmerman said...

As a followup, when I was staying up all night (in my 20's and early 30's), I would go through a drowsy phase - sometimes overcome with caffeine - and often emerge out the other side in a peculiarly clear and focused state. I could then stay up and be quite productive throughout the next day and not crash until probably 9-10 p.m (where my usual bed time was midnight or so). I'd be back on schedule the next day, perhaps coming in a bit late to work.

That "peculiar" state was very enjoyable - I can remember being very blown away by some sunrises I witnessed (stepping away from my computer for a few minutes).

Freeman Hunt said...

I never did this for work. If there was that much to be done, I closed my door and worked intensely during the day. Plus, if most of what you're doing is managing or coordinating other people, there are rarely all-nighters to pull because those other people are at home.

My husband has the sort of job where you often pull all-nighters because when the work is intense it requires ebery hour in the day, but the trade off is that when it isn't intense, it's extraordinarily flexible and calm.

Roger Zimmerman said...

And, finally, independent of deadlines, in most "thinking" jobs, there is _always_ more work that can be done. Working longer hours - if you do it well - can mean getting more done (that needs to be done), in fewer calendar days. People that do so are deserving of plaudits for their virtuous extra productivity. Those that criticize such producers are just envious.

Freeman Hunt said...

I did stay at the office until ten once when we got Crystal Reports, and I was setting up the new monthly sales reports from scratch. That program was sweet, but I was the only one who used it, and I don't think anyone there learned it after I left.

Amartel said...

The article is about how non-Americans do not have the same urgency about their work. The Anglo-Saxon work ethic no longer lives in London. It's true; work is secondary or tertiary importance in yurp. Mommy Government will pick up the pieces if you spill and it's difficult for your employer to can you anyway. Or you might just never get a job at all - there was an article last week about some Imam advising followers just to live off the dole and focus on learning the Koran. So, OF COURSE, bragging about pulling an all-nighter is a foreign concept. And it clearly has nothing to do with time management skills. "Time management skills" - that's another foreign concept.

Alex said...

I see we have a pissing match between Ann & ST about the merits of having one "job for life" vs keeping things interesting and the value judgments rendered about which choices one makes.

ST - you def are a judgmental prick.

Alex said...

ST - another thing about those dot-coms, it's a game for the young.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think that getting things done more quickly is always good. Sure, you could just stay at work and never leave except to sleep and shower, but I think it would strange to look at that as a good or impressive thing.

Gene said...

Althouse: I once stayed up until 3 a.m. writing a take-home exam, which was my last law school exam (and I had a near-newborn baby at the time).

Which probably means you were going to be up at 3 a.m. anyway.

Gene said...

Althouse: I once stayed up until 3 a.m. writing a take-home exam, which was my last law school exam (and I had a near-newborn baby at the time).

Which probably means you were going to be up at 3 a.m. anyway.

ampersand said...

I had the misfortune of working with some godawful software developed by our company's English programmers.

Most of the problems occured overnight and weekends and we were not allowed to page them outside their normal working hours.

Furious clients demanded that efficient,user friendly software
provided.

When global consolidation came about the English were the first to go.

Methadras said...

Why the comparison of the entitlement worker vs. the productive american worker? Americans are still the most productive in the world. Our national power shows it. Unfortunately our politicians have been just as productive in spending all of our hard earned national capitol away to the tune of our national debt exceeding our GDP. That being said, I believe in working smart rather than hard. However, you can sometimes not avoid either or both. But I assure you when faced with that requirement to get it done, Americans do excel. Period.

Methadras said...

MadisonMan said...

My reaction would be, to someone saying they pulled an all-nighter: Why did you leave it to the last minute?


A lot of times it is through no fault of your own. I've been on the receiving end of not only all nighters but 24/48/and sometimes a 72 hour straight work session. Not because it was my fault by any stretch, but because of the mission critical nature of what needed doing in the time allotted for getting it done and pushed to the right people for implementation.

Methadras said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Bragging about pulling an all-nighter doesn't mean you're insane, it means you're insufferably proud of how "hard" you are "working" through the night."

You're admitting you managed your time badly or you're not good enough to get things done quickly and that you're now sleep-deprived, making you less valuable for the work you're supposed to do today.

BTW, I've never in my life pulled an all-nighter. Is it okay to be proud of that?

I once stayed up until 3 a.m. writing a take-home exam, which was my last law school exam (and I had a near-newborn baby at the time).


Not necessarily true. Read above.

Amartel said...

"Bragging about pulling an all-nighter doesn't mean you're insane, it means you're insufferably proud of how "hard" you are "working" through the night."
"My reaction would be, to someone saying they pulled an all-nighter: Why did you leave it to the last minute?"

Not everyone has the luxury of leading a predictable work life. In the real world, work load may not be constant and you can get a sudden deluge that requires all-nighters and 100 hour weeks. Or you can be aware of the deadline, advise the client, and not get authority to do the work until the last minute. Or you can inherit somebody else's massive mistake. The facts change, the law changes, the other side unexpectly gets a bug in a bad spot, and you have to react. With expedience.
Etc.
Etc.
All by way of explaining that standing in the doorway inquiring, not at all insufferably, 'why did you leave it to the last minute?' or 'shouldn't you work on your time management skills?' is not the go-to appropriate response.
I have no problem with people bragging about their hard work.

ambienisevil said...

Steve Jobs not only did all nighters he could commonly pull 3 or 4 *in a row*.

Now is that managing time badly or not being able to do the work? Highly unlikely.

OTOH, an Asian site posted those hospice pics right before he died. The TMZ american sites were full of comments like "that's what happens when you're a new age loon who doesn't get your operation in time" or "that's what he gets for beeing an asshole."

The commenters on the Asian site, meanwhile, took one look at him and said "karĊshi " or "death by overwork." Instant diagnosis.

Interesting that no one brought up karma or medicine on the Asian site. Also interesting that the Westerners had such a "heaven and hell" take on both karma and science.

I guess you can take the kid out of the heaven/hell church teaching, but you can't take the church teachings out of the kid, even if they profess atheism.

ken in sc said...

I thought an ‘all-nigher’ meant “I love you long time, GI, one price.”

Lydia said...

Gotta brag about something, I guess.

Brits like to brag about drinking and playing hard.

Alex said...

Geez I can't even contemplate pulling 3-4 consecutive all nighters. You people must be superhumans.

Christy said...

I've done a couple of 36 hour days. Mission critical situations. When every hour your facility is shut down costs serious bucks, you do what you must to help get it up and running again. Or, more likely, you do what you must to stay off critical path.

Do you want the power company workers who are trying to get your electricity back to go home after their 8 hours are done?

Alex said...

Lesson learned for kids - get really educated so you can earn 6-figures and not have work 36 hour shifts at the power company.

Broomhandle said...

I pulled several all-nighters in college, mostly because my priorities did not necessarily put coursework foremost. Interestingly, I did some of my best writing in these circumstances. Put a little Wire or Eno at low volume on the turntable and close your mind to everything but the task at hand. At work I'm just the opposite.

Broomhandle said...

I pulled several all-nighters in college, mostly because my priorities did not necessarily put coursework foremost. Interestingly, I did some of my best writing in these circumstances. Put a little Wire or Eno at low volume on the turntable and close your mind to everything but the task at hand. At work I'm just the opposite.

DDfan1 said...

Seeing this as a time management question is missing the point. Like so much of British life, it is a class thing. A key British affectation is that one does not take work or the job too seriously - or look like you must or want to. Further, for the British, cleverness is prized, so if you are really bright, you wouldn't HAVE to work that hard.

pj (lowercase) said...
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pj (lowercase) said...
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Jeff Teal said...

It does seem ro be a subtle indicator of status ala Veblen.But then that would make our hostess one of the contemptible poseur quasi-aristocracy that an unjust society has imposed on thegreat unwashed masses of the proletariat. Where is Mme Lefarge?

ed said...

@ Althouse

"You're admitting you managed your time badly or you're not good enough to get things done quickly and that you're now sleep-deprived, making you less valuable for the work you're supposed to do today."

Not necessarily. I worked a contract for an undiagnosed manic-depressive project manager once (and once was enough). He would routinely make last minute changes that would require massive cascading changes throughout the entire system. Under those circumstances there really isn't any choice in the matter. I was under contract and had to finish the project. That the project was made 100x worse than it had to be because of the project manager simply had little bearing on the matter.

Being proud of achieving something isn't always a bad thing. Having to do that isn't always the fault of the person working those long hours.

ed said...

@ Alex

"Geez I can't even contemplate pulling 3-4 consecutive all nighters. You people must be superhumans."

When I was in my 20's to early 30's I specialized in recovering failed projects. As in "Your project is completely FUBAR'd and you will be fired if it isn't rolled out on time. Pay me and I'll get it done on time, on schedule and working right".

But the stress and time pressure can be pretty nasty. On a "normal" 3 month contract I would often have to work the first 2-3 weeks at an insane pace in order to get the wheels moving and get finished code, interfaces, data structures and DDL out to the other developers. Once the rest of the team spun up to speed and were running fast I could cut back a bit.

But those first couple weeks were generally bad enough that I could easily average only about 2-3 hours of sleep a night. And that is an average only.

*shrug* it was fun and it paid well.

ed said...

@ ambienisevil

"Steve Jobs not only did all nighters he could commonly pull 3 or 4 *in a row*."

There is a strange effect of doing something like that. You enter into a state that is almost like being high. Your brain goes off on different tangents and you can be expressively creative in ways that do not normally happen.

Perhaps it is a defensive mechanism for a sleep deprived brain. Perhaps it is a side effect of toxins. But once you break through the fatigue "wall" you can enter into a state of mind where everything just flows and what is imagined in the mind becomes reality in coding and your hands become mere conduits. A firehose of creativity so to speak.

Perhaps that is what drew Jobs.

Jeff Teal said...

Same thing happened to me when I was in the Army and afterwards.Any mental barriers jusf went away.I wrote a lot of poetry in those days.Then I would get some sleep and take a fresh look at what I had written.Some was good,some was dreck, and some needed to be edited.Seems that a lot of poets,writers,and painters work that way-routinely.