My upcoming maniac week!

“In which I write the s*** out of my dissertation”:

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Us too! [1] I know a lot of people (not so many of you all, I’m
guessing) think maniac weeks are deeply stupid and a recipe for
burnout. I think this article makes the case that it’s the opposite: Namely, burnout
is about running around like a chicken with your head cut off putting
out fires and whatnot and never having time to do the part of your
work you enjoy, which for many of us is getting absorbed in code. The
article prescribes scheduling time to code every other day.

So arguably maniac weeks are a burnout cure! :slight_smile:

I normally don’t feel like I work particularly hard (I average 42
hours/week on Beeminder) and don’t feel too susceptible to burnout,
but lately I have felt like we’ve been working our butts off and I’m
really looking forward to going into a cave with Bethany and building
cool stuff together with no distractions.

[1] I put this in the comments of last night:

This is me and Bethany precommitting to a new maniac workweek! A
maniac workweek, as we’re hereby defining it, is where you work like a
maniac for 104 contiguous hours – such as 9am Monday to 5pm Friday.
(A traditional full maniac week is 24*7 = 168 contiguous hours.) Ours
will be shifted by 24 hours, so 9am Tuesday to 5pm Saturday.
Timelapses to come the following Monday (Aug 11)!

This is a joint/paired maniac workweek, which we think is going to be
super fun (we seem to never get sick of each other!). Or maybe only
one of us will emerge alive. We shall see!

And here’s a time-lapse video and postmortem blog post about my maniac week!

A+, would do again.

Love it! I’ll repeat the comment I left on your blog post:

Nice work!

WolframAlpha’s got your exercise for the reader covered. It says the
95% confidence interval on your number of total work hours is 44 to

Do I have this right that for the standard error I can just give it a
1-1/e confidence interval? (Which is 50 to 61 hours.)

I realized I gave the postmortem of Bethany’s and my joint maniac
5-day workweek in a weekly beemail but not here.
So here are the time-lapses: and

I keep thinking I can pretend I’m maniacking and get absorbed in work
like that but it never seems to happen. Commitment devices. They sure

Speaking of which, there are a couple of you who declared your
intention to maniac and haven’t followed through. I offered to keep on
you about that but that turns out to be super hard so I’m just going
to make the following general suggestion to everyone who’s been
intending to try a maniac week or weekend but hasn’t gotten a round

Start a Beeminder goal for spending an hour a week on maniac prep: the
technical setup [1], clearing your schedule, announcing when it’ll be,
scheduling breaks in your other yellow brick roads, etc. The
maniacking itself can also count toward that goal, so whenever you
actually start you’ll immediately shoot way above the yellow brick

It’s a way to meaningfully commit to making it happen eventually
without having to commit to a date off the bat, which I gather is what
some of you have been procrastinating on, since committing to a date
is hard. But creating that Beeminder goal should take 30 seconds and
involve no work till next week!


I’m writing up a blog post committing to a maniac week in early December (6th through 13th), though from what I read the Telepath software isn’t that easy to use/install? I’ll surely ask any questions I have over here when I get round to installing it. I have a bit of time to prepare, in any case.


And here is my blog/committment


I used Telepath the first time only. There were a lot of things that would have been cool to use, but the configuration involved reading and understanding a bunch of objectiveC code, which is really unfamiliar to me. What I did the other times was install a program (Instantshot) to take periodic screenshots, and then I just made up a little dashboard of my music, tasks, face, etc along the bottom of my screen.

More technical details here, in case it’s not linked up above: