Wow, where to begin?
Well, there was a pandemic. It is still happening, I am vaccinated, but it might not protect me from the new variants. As a world we have added, perhaps permanently, words to our vocabulary about situations we may have never imagined. And that is the least of the changes.
My team and I helped facilitate the data for a few million swab tests with very little support. I learned a ton, including the limits to which I am willing to work. When my boss previous to this job lied to me about people working 80 hours that weren't academicians, I said it was crazy. I was right. As a software engineer I am sure there are some people that pull off 80 hour weeks, but I hope that they are few and far between. My "worst" week was 67 hours, and looking back on it I am sure I could have done a better job with better planning under 40 hours. Essentially coding is combining engineering knowledge and creative application all the time that the fingers are on the keyboard and the time surrounding.
Diminishing returns is the rule. Some people like Cal Newport, say that 4-5 hours a day of intense, or deep work is pretty much what we can expect from someone at a knowledge job. I don't disagree.
The end of February I had 40+ hours of fingers actually on keyboard according to a tracking app... I am pretty sure I rewrote a bunch of that code over the next two months. And we didn't have our on-call situation up-to-date. I really hate that, always being on-call means you can never truly take time off. Not truly taking time off means that you can't recharge. I joked that it was always Wednesday, never quite getting to a point we might take off some time. Whoever doesn't like Mondays has nothing on never-ending Wednesdays.
As a cap to this: In April as we started to slow down, I started to have ideas of how to do things better while I wasn't necessarily working, that realization was troubling. Finding out that my brain wasn't functioning well before made me go back and take a look at the hours. Conservatively I worked a whole extra month in February and March. I do not want to do that again.
I am about a week into a break between jobs. Missing the awesome team, but they are moving-on as well, and recuperating to some new normal. I am running again, trying to drop a bit of extra weight, doing some birding, hiking, and a bit of camping at Letchworth SP. Yeah, just trying to relax before starting, hopefully at a much more sedate pace.
Also this is becoming yearly... Well maybe I can do better with some real time.