// Internet Duct Tape

Top Ten Things I Hate About Crunch Time at a Startup

Posted in Humor, Programming and Software Development, Technology by engtech on October 04, 2006

This is the evil twin of Getting to Deadline – Programmer Productivity Tips

Working for a startup can be interesting, challenging, and a great learning experience. But it can also be very, very frustrating and require humorous rants like the following just to keep you from pulling out your hair and the hair of anyone who has the misfortune to sit beside you.

The Internet is rapidly devolving into a Cosmo-like collection of top ten fluff pieces about nothing, and I know I’m part of the problem, not part of the solution, but that didn’t stop me.

Top Ten Things I Hate About Crunch Time

Say no to crunch time

  1. Another summer has disappeared into the ether with nothing to show for it except pasty white skin.
  2. Friends and family who don’t understand that when you say “I’ll be available in November” you mean you’ll be available in November and no matter how many times they invite you to do things between now and then you’ll have to decline[1].
  3. Why are deadlines always set up so you end up working on national holidays[2] and long weekends?
  4. Desperately trying to juggle entertaining relatives from out of town and tackling the workload.
  5. By the time the finally-absolutely-we’re-not-joking-this-time drop-deadline has come around, you’ve already been through 2-3 false finishes and are so burned out there’s no burst of energy to sprint to the finish line.
  6. The coffee does nothing. Absence of coffee is physically painful. You’re looking forward to Deadline Complete and being able to go cold turkey. Until then, you are seriously considering getting into the cough syrup like a character out of Microserfs.
  7. The unfounded optimism by management that Things are Finally Going to Get Done (like closing all of the bugs). The team is exhausted, I don’t think our bug fixing rate is going to magically improve beyond what it has been for the past six months. Especially if features are still being coded.
  8. Going Postal” jokes around the water cooler start to take an edge, especially when the Eastern European guy who never says anything mentions he’s getting a UPS costume for Halloween.
    • sexy ups chick

  9. Geek Irritability Syndrome, as evidenced by this post.
  10. Paring down the feature list of “What has absolutely has to be tested for 1.0” for the Nth time.
  11. Eye strain is worse than carpel tunnel syndrome. It’s easy to find things to do with your hands other than typing, but very hard to try to find a relaxing activity that doesn’t involve looking at something[3].
  12. Anything is more interesting than working on the last dregs of the project that absolutely have to get done. You visit your dad’s blog for the first time[4].
  13. Work/life balance is dangerously out of whack.
  14. Not being able to count to ten properly anymore.

What do you hate about crunch time before a deadline?

(other than people whining about it on their blogs)


[1] Yet perversely you’re still miffed you didn’t get invited out to something there was no chance in hell you’d be able to go to.

[2] Or rather, why are deadlines always set up for juuuuust before long weekends so that they’re guaranteed to overrun them when they slip?

[3] I’m very impressed I didn’t make any obvious jokes about wrist and eye strain.

[4] Sorry Dad, but it’s true.


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17 Responses

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  1. Margherite said, on October 05, 2006 at 1:05 am

    Corollary to #3: They always decide to change the feature set at 6pm on Fridays.

  2. engtech said, on October 05, 2006 at 1:09 am

    No, it’s

    Corollary to #3: They always decide to change YOUR feature set at 6pm on Fridays.

  3. guvida said, on October 05, 2006 at 5:44 am

    More to corollary #3: They always decide to change Your feature at 6 pm on Fridays, and then they want you to extend your feature and deliver it at first hour on monday, beacuse you have a whole 48 hours to do it.

  4. Mr Angry said, on October 05, 2006 at 5:53 am

    The real problem is when you realise you’ve been in “crunch time” for six months and you realise it’s never going to let up. Do you tough it out like a “real man” or get the hell out like a wimpy albiet sane man?

  5. engtech said, on October 05, 2006 at 7:32 am

    I think that comes down to stubborness and experience. When you’re youthful and exuberant you’re willing to wait it out. When you’re older you can see it for the frickin’ waste of life it really is.

  6. w2ed said, on October 05, 2006 at 10:09 am

    LMAO I feel the same way about June… and that seems to run into never for me now… (Try havign two deadlines a year!)

  7. print said, on October 05, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Time is an illusion, crunch time doubley so. Thanks and apologies to the late, great, Douglas Adams.

    We get crunch time whenever the lunar motions move the upper management into our sphere of influence. Maybe a customer mentioned something tied to a project, now he has to whip us around to show his customer buddy who is boss.

    This must be done! Well, last week you dropped it because we wanted a new intranet. Then I watch office space. Then I buy an AK.

    Then I release my anger on a blog, which is fun. Looks like it is a good way to blow off steam!

  8. Dave said, on October 05, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    From #2, “I’ll be available in November”. That means something is very wrong. Fix the core problem that causes these six-month crunches–or, if unfixable, leave.

  9. startdown said, on October 06, 2006 at 1:41 am

    I hate knowing I’m sacrificing so many days of my life on something that will not make me a multi-millionaire, no matter how much I’m pretending it will.

  10. WordPress on PostSecret « //engtech said, on October 08, 2006 at 10:59 am

    […] A few days ago I ranted (part humorous, part serious) about how working for a start-up sucks when it comes to crunch time and you don’t have time for anything in your life anymore. One of the points I mentioned was “Desperately trying to juggle entertaining relatives from out of town and tackling the workload.” […]

  11. The Lair » in with the new said, on October 10, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    […] It’s been a while since I remember having some substantial free time. Being immersed in the nitty gritty of a fledgeling company can do this to your spare time. Small wonder that ten things I hate about crunch time at a startup struck a chord. For extra points, the first six comments are both hilarious and sadly true. […]

  12. What’s up at //engtech « Beats Entropy said, on October 11, 2006 at 4:00 am

    […] The best post is “Top Ten things I hate about working at a start-up during crunch time“, which includes pictures of sexy UPS girls. […]

  13. […] Top Ten Things I Hate About Working at a Startup During Crunch Time Posted by engtech Filed in Work, Commentary, Lifestyle, Opinion, Ideas, Recommendations, Thoughts, Original, GTD, Tips, Lists, HowTo, Musings, Best Practices, Productivity, How To, Self-Improvement, How To Guides, lifehacks, Career, lifehack, Skills Development, Estimating, Work Place, engtechArticles, Link Bait […]

  14. […] Top Ten Things I Hate About Crunch Time […]

  15. […] Top ten things I hate about crunch time at a start up […]

  16. […] money, which means quality suffers. Poor quality can throw a monkey wrench into schedules, forcing crunch time in order to meet the delivery dates. This technical debt is just like any other debt in that it […]


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