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Define Work

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I'm always thinking. Some of my best ideas come to me as I'm nodding off to sleep at night, lying in bed, thinking about getting up, and in the mornings, showering. I've learned to keep my Palm handy at all times to jot down those ideas. So, technically, I'm always working. Whenever I'm doing something mentally undemanding (riding my bike, lifting weights), I'm lost in thought about coding techniques.

At work, I'm rarely working. When all the others are in the office, the usual din is just distracting enough that I can't get much done, so I don't even try. I roll in around 9, surf the web, read magazines, experiment with little projects (like trying the Ubuntu Linux-based operating system on my convertible laptop/tablet), nothing too demanding.

For the heavy stuff, I need hours of quiet time, alone, without distractions. That only comes after everyone else goes home, giving them (and sometimes me) the impression that I work phenomenally long hours. My boss has even expressed concern for what appears to him to be a casual approach to work, but then I pull a rabbit out of a hat (like the document archival/retrieval system I wrote in 15 hours), and he wonders when I found the time to do it. That's when I remind him to check the security cameras. I come in late, but stay even later. He sees me surfing the web more than anyone else in the firm; it's true, right up to 5 p.m. Then it stops. Everyone else's Internet access is now monitored and/or restricted. Not mine. I'm even exempt from the usual HR seminars. Rare for a manager.

Anyone else around here work like that?

Moreover, I've never been threatened by outsourcing. Things got a bit tight several years ago. One former employer, frustrated over their programmers' seemingly lackadaisical work ethic, outsourced the work instead to Russian PhDs for $20 an hour. After a year and near bankruptcy, they brought all those jobs back home. Too late. I'd already moved on to greater things at places that understood how programmers work.

Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Director of IT Health Advocates Sherman Oaks, Calif.

 
 
 
 

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