I have been working as a professional software developer for 12 years and I have a B.S. in Computer Science. I've primarily been a full stack web developer. I have read multiple accounts of programmers being stressed out and/or having too much work. I find myself an oddball in our industry because it's been the polar opposite for me. I have experienced low work demand/lots of downtime at multiple different companies.

How do I avoid excess downtime/low work demand? I'm interested in general answers, not specifically related to programming.

  • What country are you in? And if the USA, what state?
    – stannius
    Dec 20, 2018 at 22:28
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    Maine in the U.S. Dec 20, 2018 at 22:29
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    What is the nature of the companies you've worked at. Bodyshops (aka 'consultancies'), web agencies, or product companies? Dec 20, 2018 at 23:32
  • It's not an answer, my experience has not matched yours. I wouldn't say I've always been stressed out and overworked (the other extreme), but, the times when there wasn't more work needed than time and people available to do it, have been few and far between.
    – stannius
    Dec 20, 2018 at 23:35
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    have you read this question&answers? Maybe you can use insight from there, but for polar situation. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/125045/… Dec 21, 2018 at 0:04

1 Answer 1


I absolutely DESPISE low work demand/lots of downtime.

And I absolutely cherish low work demand/lots of downtime.

That gives me plenty of time to:

  • catch up on technical debt; refactor code, bring the documentation up to date, write more unit tests, etc, etc, etc
  • develop more tools, to make me more productive when it is not downtime
  • hone my current skills
  • learn new skills
  • I am sure that you can think of more.

I thought that maybe you were concerned for your job, if there was not enough work, but you say

I am very passionate about programming and still enjoy it very much

So, act like it & use that time to become the best software developer (not just programmer) that you can be.

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    +1 These are good thoughts and I agree with them. The only conflict I have with them is I hate leaving loose ends. I have often refactored, unit tested, documented, prototyped, contributed to open source, etc...when there was down time only to find myself in the middle of those things and having to abandon them. Maybe where I've gone wrong in my down time is trying to do large-scale efforts instead of little projects that I can get done in a day. Dec 21, 2018 at 12:25
  • I guess you are correct. Generally, we have some idea of how long the downtime will be. But it's a good idea to break down whatever you plan into two or three day chunks Dec 21, 2018 at 14:05
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    I have a bunch of down time in my software engineering job. I started converting our code base from Python 2 to Python 3 (yeah we're a little behind), taking some classes in software security, doing more code reviews on other people's pull requests, etc. There are lots of little things you could be doing.
    – jcmack
    Dec 21, 2018 at 19:46

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