New job panic attacks (long post)

I got laid off at a previous job that I loved. There was never any pressure. Things got done at the speed I got them done. Sometimes that was fast and sometimes that was slow.

I didn’t get laid off due to performance. I was the sole developer working with a sole designer. They laid us off and hired a firm.

Now I start a new job in 2 weeks. They have status meetings every Monday. They say they are agile like but not full blown daily scrum. Not sure if there is any daily updates or not.

I’m so worried that I will be expected to accomplish something everyday. I’m just not like that. Sometimes I get stuff done really quick and others I don’t. To top it off I really don’t care at all for the company. It’s just work for me.

I get to work 100% remote and just come in for the meetings.

I’ve been having full blown panic attacks for the last 2 days as my start date approaches. Ive been in therapy for years. So that helps.

What should I expect? I don’t want to have to work my ass off 8 hrs a day. In fact I know I can’t. At most I can maybe work 4 all together. It’s just the way I am.

I need help. I need to talk. This is my first time on a team. A small 4 person team.

Why can’t there be a job where they are OK with me working and getting stuff done for 4 hrs each day. Even 6. I don’t think most people with 8 hr days actually work the whole time. Why are programmers expected to get something done.

And what do I say at the weekly meeting? Still working on it?

I’m so panicked.

Remote sounds great. I would split up the 8h into 3 or 4 chunks and meditate in between, do some yoga/mealprep/reading/workout or go for a walk. I would ask my boss if he objects this pattern and how and when he wants me available for chat/skype/phone.

I think 8h coding is a myth, though in crunch time it can be done. 4h was my daily avg, rest was meetings and admin stuff like mails and phone calls. Also there are fundamental human needs, such as coffee i/o and carb loading/unloading which most people would regard as billable time.

First of all, congrats on landing a new job. It looks like it’s a big change for you. You were confortable in your previous situation and now you’re forced to take a big leap.

Just keep reminding yourself that no matter what you’ll grow from this experience. I’m sure you’ll learn and gain valuable experience.

And don’t underestimate your many years of getting things done.

My brain works the same way. We’re not that different. In fact I’m pretty sure any human been working full time on a computer will experience variations in his/her level of productivity. Nobody logs in 40 hours of productivity per week.

I used to work for a web agency where I was required to submit 40 hours of billable work per week. They were not happy with 37.5. That was ridiculous.

We get interrupted, we answer emails, we have meetings, we take breaks, we need to read documentation… and sometimes we get stuck on the same bug for the whole day.

When you say “I will be expected to accomplish something everyday”, you have to realize that’s very vague.

You will be assigned tasks and you’ll have to report your progress on those tasks.

If you pushed 5 commits in the day, updated documentation and answered emails, then you’ve “accomplished something”. Whether or not you’ve accomplished enough to keep the project on track, that’s something that should be discussed with your team.

At my previous startup, our workflow was similar except our meeting was on friday. On thursdays, before leaving work, I would take some time to prep for the meeting. We reviewed what was pushed, what was left to complete, unexpected issues and what were the priorities for the next week.

So I think the key here is honesty and transparency.

  • They won’t expect you to be productive on day 1. It will take a good 90 days for you to get accustomed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • If they ask you to work with a library, framework, language etc that you’ve never used before, be upfront about it and let them know you’ll need some time to adjust.
  • Make sure they use project tracking software like Jira or Basecamp etc. to manage project requirements and keep track on your progress.

Based on what you told us in previous posts, it looks like working remote is important for you and you’ve managed to find a job that matches your needs.


Look at the positives:

  • You get to work remote in an environment that you control.
  • A small team means it’s easier to communicate. You don’t have to keep in touch with 50 people. That also means less red tape.

I wish I could tell you there’s a magical cure for your anxiety. I felt the same way before and the anxiety went away pretty quickly as soon as I started on my first day.

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Dumb question, but at my previous position I was the sole developer. I used svn. I’m going to be used git now. How often / when do you push a commit? As soon as you have coded the smallest bit of that works and does something? Do you wait for the whole feature to be done?

Also from what i hear they are going to be put me on a project that should take me 1 months (according to them) when i start. What if I get said project done in 2 weeks? I fear telling them i’m done as they will just pile up more work for me to do and expect me to get things done just as fast. Part of me wants to hide that I got it done in 2 weeks and say I got it done in 3. I don’t want to be punished for getting things done quickly.

Take a look at this article to learn about release management with git:

One popular approach is to setup a “development” branch (where new features are merged) and a “master” branch (the production release).

So when you start work on a new feature, you create a new feature branch from development. You then commit each change and merge/push your feature branch with development once the feature is complete and tested.

If you complete the project in 2 weeks instead of 4, that’s very positive :wink: Just don’t go crazy and work 70 hours + during your first week.

I understand your way of thinking because I do it all the time. I constantly make projections about the future and I worry about things that COULD happen.

Focus on what you need to do to complete the project. Make sure you understand the requirements and raise your concerns if something is taking too long. Remind yourself that they hired you because you have what it takes.

I had many of these same fears when going to Agile. Daily standup meetings were especially difficult. Feeling like I had to justify his much I did or did not get done the previous day.

I started keeping a notebook. During the day, if I finished something or got stuck on something, I’d jot it down. If I forgot during the day, at the end of the day I’d take 5 minutes and review my work to make these notes. Everything I wrote in this notebook was phrased so I could just read it verbatim in any meeting, so I didn’t stumble over my words. I carefully crafted and recorded my questions so I could ask them “intelligently.”

I still do this, because it has been so helpful for me.

I also want to say - you’re not alone. EVERYONE is nervous when they start a job. Even those people with tons of self-confidence get nervous. In fact, I just coached someone though their first day jitters, a person I have known for a long time who has always had an abundance of confidence. Even, or maybe especially, “rockstars” get nervous. It’s okay!

I’m almost done with week 3. The code base is a mess in cake PHP. I basically take tickets and work on then. Completing 2 to 4 a day. I really don’t like it. Any Zen advise on how to just get into it and be ok with it. Even if I don’t like it??

I just completed week 4 at my new job and I was thinking about that this week.

We have a standup meeting at 9:30am every day which means I have to be at the office by 9:30… or else I have to use skype. I’ve never been a morning person but we have to do the meeting early enough so devs working in europe can join in. At my previous job, I was used to start my day at 10am.

I don’t like starting my day with a meeting (I don’t like meetings anyway). I would rather start with one hour of quiet time and plan my day/answer emails/grab a cup of coffee.

I also have to attend meetings that are running long. I had a 2.5 hours meeting last thursday… and I was quite busy that day. I hate working during a meeting while trying to concentrate on what’s being said just in cased my name is mentioned and I have to answer…

It’s so hard for me to do that. It sounds dumb but it is. I’m just not very organized. Thank god for smart phones. At least I never forget appointments.

I’m using an app (sortd) that embeds with gmail so I can have a neat to do list next to my inbox… it’s super easy to use and I still have issues keeping my task organized and up to date.

I was wondering how you were doing. I’m kinda in the same boat so we should support each other :wink:

Think of it this way: Your state of mind has changed from “i’m not sure I can’t do this” to “I can do this but this project has issues that need to be dealt with” in 3 weeks. I feel the exact same way right now.

Today I pushed a regression in production because the app i’m working on has a broken test suite and tests have taken a back seat lately in order to keep things moving quickly. It’s not my fault. It’s simply impossible to keep track of all the business rules in my mind. That’s what tests are for. So I’m keeping my focus on what I can do to make things better (improve the automated testing) instead of blaming myself for not being super human.

One thing is for sure: a messy code base needs refactoring and it’s very hard to refactor without automated testing. What’s the state of the tests ? It sucks to deal with messy code but it’s especially stressful to deal with regressions. In your case, it’s stressful because the code is messy which makes it hard to figure out why a regression was introduced.

For me… being zen is being able to run a strong test suite … not getting any errors… and being able to deploy regularly to production knowing it’s very unlikely I broke something. If something is broke, I make sure whatever I missed is tested so doesn’t happen again.

Keep us posted,

Zen people would say “just do it”, or was that from a nike commercial. </kidding>

Now for the real zen advice. I’ve quit a wellpaying job to get some freelance experience and it seems like I replaced one evil with another. The new codebase gives me goosebumps, it is messy. I accept its “messiness” and do my job. The codebase stays shitty if I like it or not. I do not care about liking or disliking the codebase, this would just be a sign of attachment. I care more about improving this shitty code, I care about improving how I deal with this adversity mentally. It’s even fun for me. I just do it. Now I do sound like a Nike salesman, do I?