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What is a day in the life of a coder like?

With these questions in mind, let’s see what developers are saying.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the reading
Wesley Bitomski, Code Poet, and Systems Architect

Well, no. I spend most of my day communicating to other engineers, writing documentation, reading, and on my one-of-a-kind commute. I do other kinds of completely normal things too, like debate personal preferences with people who disagree as a bonding exercise, fret over whether or not I should talk to the intellectual beauty who works in accounting, also eat.

The following “day in the life of Wes” is long, and best read idly sipping your favorite beer, liquor, or otherwise (for you folk who prefer iced tea [I prefer mine unsweetened, like the Godless Yankee I am]).

I am going to bear my soul to you. Feel free to judge, as if I’m paying attention. I’m not, though. I know the Internet too well to take any of you seriously.

In the morning, I throw my folding dinghy into the water and paddle out of the marina. In open water, I attach the motor and start my 2 hour commute, on a boat. There’s a somewhat open waterway to the office, and I exploit that for all it’s worth, and if it means I spend 4 hours in a boat per day on a commute, then that means I get to spend 4 hours per day goofing off in a boat while simultaneously doing something of value.

I also live on a (much larger than a dinghy) boat, so I wake up at the marina anyway. It’s my mailing address, and where I keep my home. It keeps my commute so simple that it’s sorta obvious why I do it.

Then I fold up the boat, and carry it and the motor into the office. I used to prop the boat up next to the CEO’s desk, because she was charmed as all out that someone was commuting via unconventional means. Then it became boring, and I kinda wanted to keep it near my desk anyway, so it and the motor go there, right next to the disused whiteboard. Motor goes on the charger, I sign onto Slack, and get ready for my morning meeting(s).

Today I was in two two hour long meetings. One was a backlog grooming meeting where we got to talk about the work we should be doing in future sprints, and the other was a retrospective and sprint planning meeting where we opted into work for the week. On the usual day, I tend to be part of one or two 10 minute scrums, where we discuss what we accomplished the prior day, what we want to do the current day, and anything that’s in our way.

We’re an Agile shop, so we try to keep to tight iterations of the minimally useful work possible. Our sprints are about two weeks long, mostly because most of us are split between multiple teams, so sprints can be staggered and Monday meetings can happen in a somewhat lightweight way. Or at least that’s what the management is trying to do if it weren’t for all the gosh-darned wordy engineers they’re trying to get out of the meeting and back to solving problems.

It’s not because management is scared of wasting money, but because we, the engineers, legitimately enjoy solving problems. Heck, puzzle-focused video games are a favorite pastime in the department. Meetings are a big emotional drain on us, and we often leave depressed and tired from all the social activity.

For the rest of the day, I debated the merits of Javascript’s design with a frontend engineer while I finished up some hanging work from the prior sprint and got going on my week’s work. The debate is something that we do, mostly because I’m trying to get him on the server side before JS burns him out. Variety stays burnout some, or so I think. Our polyglot platform keeps me entertained, at least.

And the guy legitimately likes JS, and wants me to as well. The very idea of liking JS is strange and alien to me. Why would I want to do that to my brain, when the likes of Go, Scala, Racket, and Python have got my back and are far better designed? He’s a weird dude, and I love him like a brother. He probably feels the same way about me, especially the weird part and hopefully the brother part.

At the end of (almost) every day I turn back to the waterways and mess around in my boat for another couple of hours. I get back on the docks; rinse off the dinghy before tucking it away; put the motor back on the charger, and then march off to a nearby pub for supper.

I get home, half buzzed, and watch some local news via Internet streams while logged into Slack, waiting for fires to start.

I wonder if I should chat with our Sr. Accountant? We agree on a lot of things, and I think she’s pretty. She’s online, too, and stays online until late. I tend to enjoy our conversations when she gets engaged in them. We tend to have great talks when she seems to feel up to it. Or at least I enjoy them, because a beautiful woman is energetically lecturing me about things that I care about, too.

I decide to not bother her. I don’t know what fuels this decision, I may just be a coward in this regard. I tend to be afraid of the things I can’t control, anyway. I go to bed early so I can make make the 7 o’clock commute and not feel like a zombie in the morning. You know, it’s about boating safety and nothing to do with avoiding my feelings.

Rolling code is about 1/4 of my day. The rest is about worrying about what code I should write, what technologies I should use, playing around in a boat, and watching the news while I beat myself up over not speaking to a woman that I clearly admire.

You know, normal things.

Edmund Elmer, coder

I think no. Coding is a creative work, so most of the work is thinking and reading, learning things, especially when you need to create something new or need to use a new technology. I think max. 30% of the work is the “sitting before the computer and writing lines” part. The other min. 70% is the mentioned reading, learning and most importantly the thinking.

Of course most of the reading and thinking in an office environment happening as sitting before the computer. But for example I’m working remote and when I have a real hard problem, when I really need to find a solution, I’m going to walk with my dogs into the forest and thinking about threads or complex UI-handling problems :)

So this “sitting before the screen and writing new lines of code all day” is very far from the reality.

Maxim Andreev, studied at University of Western Ontario

I did my undergrad in finance and worked on Bay Street for about 5 years before transitioning into web development. I’m self taught and have spent a far greater amount of hours learning how to code than finance. I’ve been a freelancer for about a year now, but programming for considerably longer. In fact I used programming to further my career in finance.

Currently I am in Bali hugging mine and my girlfriend’s surfboard while being driven to a new hotel because we got bored of the last one so I have a few moments to spare. You guessed it, I am a digital nomad.

I work on projects originating in Canada and the US. My hours are all but standard, it is not unusual for me to be up at 4am chatting with a client or sleeping till noon. On average I try to work 6–8 hours a day, however sometimes it can be as much as 12–14 or none at all. After I finish working on a project for the day I spend some time learning something new. I love it, for me work is no longer work but play. The Internet has so much good content on virtually anything you want to learn and it’s only getting better.

I love my life, I hit the gym daily, try to surf as much as I can, and fly to different countries on a whim. Indonesia is the 7th country I have been to this year. We are planning to go to Hong Kong next month.

Sometimes it can be hard to find a solid work environment, especially if you are in a third world country. Working on the bed can get very tiresome.

Life is good right now, but it can also be very stressful. Being a freelancer you’ve got to really know your stuff and be good at problem solving. I’ve had some very stressful times where the client’s request seemed impossible to complete but you just gotta do it. I’m lucky that I have a very supportive girlfriend who knows when to just let me code because I hit that “zone” or whatever you want to call it. But also supports me when I have a mini panicattack haha. I am one of those people that cannot stop thinking about a problem until it is solved, so it can be hard to turn it off sometimes and just live in the moment.

My main stack/tools/whatever I am working with as of right now are:

Angular2 (update: I’ve since switched to Vue.js and haven’t looked back)

Django + DRF




Pycharm & Webstorm

13″ MacBook Pro

Obviously python, sass, js, typescript, git, bash etc..

To prepare for the future I am currently working on getting better with ML and taking a few courses online.

Roger Tan, Over-glorified code monkey

Dunno about anyone else, but…

7.30am — Commute. Ensure I have three sandwiches and two tomatoes in my pack.
8:30 am — arrive at the office. Consume two sandwiches and a tomato over some coffee. Read some Medium and my email.
9am — Attend to requests. Follow up. I may have sent code to myself last night, from my personal account. See if it can be applied to anything I’m currently working on.
12 noon — Lunch. Talk tech with my manager.
1 pm — Another cup of coffee. Read more Medium.
1.30 pm — More work. If I write anything that could be useful, send it to my personal account. If I come across anything interesting on the web that I should investigate at home, send the link to my personal account. If I need a break, open up QBASIC and screw around with it to take my mind off things.
6pm — Consume that last sandwich and tomato. (unless I’m eating dinner at my mother’s, in which case, consume those during lunch)
6:30pm — Send any last emails. Leave the office. At thus point, there are four options:
- go to Mom’s place for dinner. Catch up. If it’s the end of the month, pass her some cash.
- Hit the pool. An hour of so of doing laps will decrease the pressure in my head.
- Do grocery shopping. (I made an Android app for this. Go, me)
- Attend class. Currently taking a Java/Android course.
9:30pm — Make three sandwiches for tomorrow. Pack two tomatoes.
10pm — If there’s laundry or ironing to be done, do it. Tinker with my side projects. If there’s any code I sent myself, see if it can be implemented. If I write anything that looks re-usable, send it to my work account. Follow up on anything I sent to my personal account during the day. If it’s some cool effect I found on the web, see if I can implement it using tools I know. If it’s new code, study it. Watch some HK drama. Eat an apple.
1am — Hit the sack.

9am — Have some coffee at the local cafe. Read some Quora.
10am — Hit the pool.
12 noon — Eat at Mom’s place or make a sandwich.
1pm — Housework. (made an Android app for this too!)
2pm — Tinker with side projects. If I completed anything during the week, write a web tutorial on how it got done, explaining each line, and post it on my blog. (this is tougher than it looks!). May need to do some homework from my classes.
6pm — either make another sandwich and get back to tinkering, or go out for dinner and watch a movie. If I need to do something different — read a novel, hang out at the library or assemble some LBX (miniature plastic robots)
2am — Hit the sack.

This is probably why I don’t have a girlfriend despite being in decent shape, having a decent paycheck and not being cursed in the looks department. No woman appreciates being shafted on weekends for PHP/JAVA/AJAX/what-have-you.

By Pavel Malos