Working in tech, I've observed developers who work as hard as possible when they don't need to. I’m here today to tell you that it's a bad idea and you shouldn't do it.
What do I mean by working as hard as possible? I mean someone who can finish all the work that is expected of them in less than the total time that they are meant to spend working and then asks for more, similar, work to do. I also mean someone who has no real sense of how much work is expected of them and then drives themself at an unsustainable pace trying to meet a standard which they can never meet because they already met it a long time ago and never realised and they are still worried about how others will perceive them and oops now they're burned out I guess.
I believe that:
If you haven’t been fired, and no one has taken you aside to ask about your performance, then probably you're meeting expectations. You can also look at what your peers are doing or you can just ask people how they perceive you. It's also probably good to exceed expectations instead of just meeting them. But in most tech companies this is probably easier than you think.
If you optimally fill your time at work doing 'work' work, then this means that you are likely:
You should try and spend your time in ways that will benefit you and your employer.
If you're later in your career, and don't feel like there's anything you desperately need to learn - there might still be better ways to spend your time than just taking more tasks off a todo list. You should mentor more junior staff. You should use your experience and understanding to figure out what important things aren't being focused on. Sometimes you should just stare into space until you remember that everything is going to go catastrophically wrong once you record more than 4.29 billion events in that one table, I know five years ago we said it'll never happen and if it does, well we'll worry about it when we get to it, and anyway that's a good problem to have it means we're really racking up the users, so how about a game of table tennis.
Obviously I don't practise any of what I talk about here, and diligently ensure that I spend all my time at work delivering business value.
A Mind For Numbers contains a lot of useful ideas for how to work more effectively.
Julia Evans talks about learning at work here.. I remembered reading something about spending time learning while working remotely because 'no one knows what I'm doing anyway', but now that I look it up, this article says a lot more, and I think covers everything I've said here but better. So I guess there was no reason to write this oh well. good bye