So you used to hear about a four-day work week all the time, but lately there hasn’t been much talk about it, and I think I know why. I think we’ve been on a four-day work week for a while now, but the extra day has been quietly stolen and put to good use by the big software giants.

As a software developer, I estimate that I spend about 20% of my time at this point updating software. I have several computers that run different operating systems, and the operating systems on those computers need to update themselves periodically. When that happens, I need to close Photoshop and the 20 or thirty files that are open, close Visual Studio and the project I am working on, close all the browser windows showing vital documentation I need to work with, etc.

I have to close all the windows my Mac has open that point at my Windows machine (or vice versa if I’m updating Mac OS X). Once the update is done, assuming everything went smoothly, I need to spend a bunch of time re-opening those files, relocating the project, etc.

And that is just the operating systems on the computers I use.

Then there are the tools I use. I use XCode on the Mac, and that gets updated often - usually to match the updates to the operating systems on the devices I use XCode to build software for. It’s a big update too – many GB.

So when XCode gets updated, I usually need to get an update to Unity 3D, which produces the XCode project that gets compiled and put on the devices. I have to update Unity when Windows changes too, or a major web browser, or the Xbox or playstation or what have you. Unity has to run on a lot of platforms and I don’t envy them the task of keeping everything working on all of those platforms.

And after getting these updates, I sometimes have to re-register my devices as development devices (after I set them up again as I need to do with a major update like iOS7).

The last month has been particularly unproductive because of the (three) iOS7 update(s). but this hidden software update tax has been going on for a while.

If you have an iOS device, you know how quickly the little number showing you how many app updates there are can increase. Even if you’re not a developer, you probably spend an hour a week just updating your apps on your smartphone and cleaning things up.

If you are trying to support multiple mobile platforms, it’s crazy how much time you spend updating devices and development systems.

So is anyone up for a three-day work week?

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