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Honest days work

How many quality programming hours are you able to squeese in an 8 hour work day. I am lucky if I can get four hours, and I am feeling quite guilty.

Gary Black
Monday, November 25, 2002

I can say I feel the same way... but what can ya do?  If you can't get yourself 'in the zone' for extended periods of time - this is the result. 

I get in the zone for extended periods around 1 or 2am.  But there's no way I'm doing 'work work' at that time of the night after unsuccessfully trying to stay 'in the zone' from 9-5.  Clients/salespeople call, coworkers instant message,  and everbody emails me.  And even on days when nobody calls/messages/emails, I still cannot stay in the zone.  That's what joelonsoftware.com or slashdot.org are for ;-) 

If you put in a really productive 4 hours a day - you should be content.

Fire & Motion Captain
Monday, November 25, 2002

The best days is when I am producing code for my own little software product and need to show it off for review...

This happens while working at home. Being self-employed helps in being motivated.

Philippe Back
Monday, November 25, 2002

See if they'll let you work from home - I find it much more productive.

Mr Jack
Monday, November 25, 2002

Working at home doesn't 'work' for everyone ;-) I work at home 75% of the time and find it easier to goof off or just procrastinate than when I'm at a client's office.

Hmm.
Monday, November 25, 2002

4 hours -- good for you.  I don't get this obsession companies have about hours per day.  Your productivity is what counts.

Companies probably have such primitive productivity measurements that they think that hours is all it's about.

Still, if you like the romantic idea of codathons, I think that it's possible to do more than "4 hours of work" a day.  If you're working on something atrociously cool, or maybe if the company is set up to let you tailor your workday as you see fit to reach your goal, then I believe it's possible.

Tj
Monday, November 25, 2002

Four hours of an 8 hour day actually producing work is good.  Where I work, when developers make time estimates, we ask 'how many hours to code it if you came in on a quiet Sunday afternoon'.  So you give estimates as if you were producing in the zone.

Then we put a factor on the estimate.  The factor depends on what other things the developer is likely to be involved in (code reviews, meetings, various interruptions, a certain amount of time that your brain is not actually devoted to work).  The factor is typically around 2 to 2.5.  That means that if you estimate a task will take 4 Sunday afternoon hours, we'll schedule 8 real-world hours.

Andrewm
Monday, November 25, 2002

4 hours sounds about right.  And when you say coding, I lump in designing software with that too.  Occasionally I hit stretches where I'm "on" for a long periods of time, but a lot of software development consists of doing boring, but vital "dirty work" and it's hard for me to get in the zone for that.

Crimson
Monday, November 25, 2002

I do work from home and find it to be the most productive environment.  Of course this does require some discipline, but I attack all problems as soon as I get them with the intention to get some clear time to visit the cinema or do something fun. 

As for hours of work, I find that it's the hours not being worked that's the most important.  Attempting to work 7 days a week or for long hours every day is normally counterproductive.  So long as your 4 hours are good hours when you're not feeling beat then you're probably doing fine.  It's just the dodgy preconceptions we have making you feel guilty.

Colin.
Monday, November 25, 2002

I'm very fortunate right now. I've been on a contract for about a year where I am the only developer and I interface with management about 1-2 times a week to give status reports, updates, etc.

Beyond that, I'm left alone which is a welcome relief from being constantly micro-managed and forced to attend endless (and pointless) meetings.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, November 25, 2002

4 hours undisturbed sounds like a good day - often I get less than that, doing all the workshops, meetings and other sales-related stuff.

I find that when I stay after work hours I get the most stuff done. But now I am in a place where people consider coming in at 9am  late.

Anonymous
Monday, November 25, 2002

More importantly, what kind of employer allows you to work an 8 hour day??  Wow!

Bella
Monday, November 25, 2002

Most importantly, do you meet schedules. If I'm given a task by management, I'm given a date it has to be ready by. As long as its ready by then, they don't care.

If there is a good reason it won't be ready by the due date, then as long as i keep them posted and do what i can then they accept sh!t happens.

Same if I delegate a task downwards; this is the date it has to be done by... I don't care how work is scheduled otherwise. Which isn't to say i'd let wholsesale goofing off slide, or that i'm unavailable to help someone who needs it.

Robert Moir
Monday, November 25, 2002

btw, I meant to note that I think some people are perfectly productive doing more than 4hrs/day.  Just that hours don't matter for pure coding, only productivity.  People are different (surprise).

Tj
Monday, November 25, 2002

On average I get around 3-5 hrs.  I rarely ever get to 7 or higher given an 8 hour day.

If you get stuff done on time, then if you only do 1 hr of actual work then that's fine in my opinion since it's management's fault for not giving you enough work to do. 

But I suspect your feeling of guilt is arose due to either your actual or perceived feeling of falling behind on the schedule.  If so, I recommend you figure out what makes you tick and get in the zone.  Perhaps you need to think of a "happy place" (ie. "Happy Gilmore :) to get your mind focused.  Everyone has their own unique way of getting into the coding flow -- you just have to find your unique way of getting your mind to that point.

HeyMacarana
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Currently... ooh, as much as 2 or 3 minutes a day sometimes.

Amazing how demotivating it is when you are told you'll be laid off next year along with 95% of the rest of the company... and suddenly every IT project is frozen and the boss says, in response to a question of "So what should I work on now?" ... "Your CV".

DB
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Why do you feel that you're not working when you're not programming?

I am the "coach" (team lead) on a team doing Extreme Programming and this is probably one of the most frustrating things to hear from a developer.

Any monkey can bang on a keyboard. A developers job isn't to code, it's to help the group deliver a product that does what they said it would do on time.

That's the tricky part. It usually involves talking with other team members, working with QA and the technical writers, etc. These don't involve programming yet they are vital to our success.

My suggestion is to stop defining your contribution in terms of hours of coding and more in terms of project progress.

On another note, you should be careful what you wish for. I've done pair programming sessions that have lasted for the better part of a day (7 hours) and you're pretty wrung out after that. The only reason I would trust the code that came out of that kind of marathon is that I had another set of eyes backing me up. I am skeptical about any claim single programmers might make about how they crank out wondrous code in 8 or 10 hour sessions. Sure, the code might exist, but I suspect it's a time bomb waiting to happen.

Bruce Rennie
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

4 hours of productive work is quite good.

(On a slightly off topic note)
It's also the maximum amount of time you should be typing/mousing a day according to papers on RSI/CTS.

You should be resting 30 seconds every 3 minutes of typing.
And then taking a 10 minute break after 45 minutes of typing.
And you're supposed to stop completely after 4 hours of typing.

And it's very easy to regulate yourself: http://workrave.sf.net/

You can download Linux/Win32 versions, and they have this 'borg' like ability so they enforce the timing stuff over multiple machines.

Trust me, it's worth using.

3 months ago I felt a huge amount of pain in my right wrist. I was diagnosed with tendonitis; basically, inflammation of the wrists.

My right hand was paralised with pain for the next 2 weeks. I couldn't type/eat properly/etc. I've spent a huge amount of money on physiotherapy and chiropractic. I still have pains 3 months afterwards, and I've started showing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. And my left wrist has started to play up.

I now see a chiropractor every week and do daily hand/wrist excercises. It appears to be getting better.

3 months of pain is _not_ fun at all. No amount of money is worth the pain.

Omar Kilani
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

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