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Programmer's hours

What are your hours like?

Because of DSL/Citrix/VPN/Email/Cellphone/...on and on, I work in bits and pieces pretty much all the time....I have strange hours... I may be in front of a machine 12-15 hours a day, but I probably only do 6 hours of real work, is this the case for others?

Berlin Brown
Monday, July 26, 2004

Five- to six- out of eight are normal, when you add it up... but six out of 12-15 isn't!

Mr. O
Monday, July 26, 2004

I can't tell whether or not you're complaining.  You work long hours, but you're actually working less than half that.

Justin Johnson
Monday, July 26, 2004

Unless web surfing or games are your hobby you're spending too much time.

Get a life. Never thought I'd say that.

Monday, July 26, 2004

yeah, probably games or surfing are yor hobbies.Unless you spend other tomes drawing ERD's then you need to be wiser in your time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I do about 15 minutes of real work a day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The vast majority of my hours have sixty minutes. Every 18 months or so they have 60 minutes and one second.

Harvey Pengwyn
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

But Mr. Fancypants, I think you are forgetting the cover sheets on your TPS reports.  Didn't you get the memo?  That should put you to about 6 hours of real work a day.

Mr. Livingston
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Dude! Get a new job.

Mr Jack
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Some people/teams measure "on-task time", which is the actual amount of time (hours/minutes) spent on project-scheduled tasks.  Then, each developer does their estimates in terms of hours, and knows how to map that to weeks by knowing their on-task time per week.  From what I've heard (and seen, when I've tried to measure it), 2-10 hours a week is about normal for developers who just started tracking it, and 20-25 hours a week is about the maximum.

Even in the groups that believe very strongly about this, no one would say that your on-task time should be around 40 hours a week - there are lots of other important tasks that simply don't show up on a project schedule: interviewing, helping other team members, status/planning meetings, reading JoS, etc. - but there are also plenty of things that block/interrupt on-task time that aren't important.

The process of measuring on-task time can be very eye-opening - it's amusing to watch someone who works 80 hours a week and just realized they spend about 10 hours a week actually doing project tasks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Yes, eye opening. I worked one place that wanted to get a "good handle" on where all the time was really being spent, so they set up separate charge numbers for things like impromptu meetings, peer consultation and waiting for management to make decisions.

Guess where we loaded up the charges? Come on guess. OK, that was too easy. It was a bit unfair the way we piled on the waiting for managers category, but they asked for it. The whole initiative didn't last but a couple weeks. It was fun while it lasted though.

They always say they want to know the truth, but they really don't. What they're looking for is a tool for measuring the time spent on-task in order to beat you with it if your percentage isn't what they expect to see.

It goes way back. In the 60s I worked in a blue collar job where we had to punch a time card in at 7:30, out again at lunch time and back in again after lunch. But that wasn't enough. They had a second set of time cards for task events. You had production quotas to meet and each part of the job was broken down into phases which counted as on-task or on-wait or whatever.

They would then feed those punch cards into the job quota database and reduce your productivity to a single number for the week or the month. It made managing so easy when everyone was reduced to some percentile value. That's the holy grail current software managers are searching for. They would like us to become production workers who's effectiveness can be measured accurately and reduced to a single number. It frustrates them to no end that they cannot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Yeah, the way I've recommended it in the past is just for individual developers to try to measure it for themselves and not actually share it with anyone.  Once someone sees that they only get actual project work done for 10 hours (out of the 60 they work), they generally do some personal time-management stuff cause they're surprised it's so low.  I don't think it's a good tool for actually comparing productivity, or time-management skills, or whatever.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I used this when I started having to track my time (the 1.x version was free).

It's a great tool for getting realistic times, it's amazing how much we fudge. That 5 minute task could be 15 when you go from reading the email to checking in the update.

Of course, I never told them my real numbers. I just multiplied all the tasks they wanted to track out until it matched up with the 8 or so minimum hours they required us to work on any given day.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

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