My schedule

About half of my time at the moment (maybe more :thinkingface:) is spent on "operational" or "tactical" duties. Clearing tickets, making sure projects are on track, chasing down issues, and delegating effectively. This leaves very little time for working on "bigger picture" or "strategic" items, unless I manage my time well.

Generally speaking, my day starts with an alarm at 7:30 (I'm not a morning person), and by 8 I'm helping the family get ready for school or the days events. I love a good sleep-in, but unfortunately I only get the opportunity about once a month.

By 8:30 I walk my children to school and from there I walk/ride into the office in time for the "Tech Management Time" session shown below at 9. From there, as I mentioned in the what I do section, it's normally gogogo until lunch, breathe, and then gogogo until I need to leave to head home.

As I said before, I'm generally not a morning person, and it takes me until about 10 or 10:30 before I feel awake and running. You'll notice that all but one of my syncs (due to the preferences of the other person), and most of my important meetings (like appraisals/syncs) are scheduled in the afternoons. This is my preference, but if we end up working together and you like to start at 4am and finish at lunch, I'm sure we can work something out... :)

I try to leave the ends of my days free (from 5pm onward), as it gives me a moment to collect my thoughts, get back to inbox-zero, write down notes or action points from the day. Basically it gives me an overflow time where I can recap the days events. In the screenshot below you can see the physical manifestation of this as the hour of white space between the top of the blue Thursday item, when compared to the rest of the days. Thursdays finish at 6, other days finish at 5 - if nothing else, this is a visual reminder to take a break, and finish up on the other days.

So, let's break it down

For the purposes of this article, I've color coded what a typical week looks like for me: Calendar Snapshot

Sorry, in Markdown+GitBook, there doesn't seem to be much control on the size of an image after they render the Markdown for me. They strip out all the standard tricks that I know. For now, feel free to right-click, "Save as", or "open in a new tab" if you want to see a bigger version.

  • Yellow is time set aside for working with my peers or working on team projects.

  • Blue is "me time"; I've chosen what goes in those slots, and it's sometimes strategic, sometimes operational.

  • Red is an appraisal of someone reporting to me, right there in the middle on Wednesday.

  • Gray is my blocked out lunch hour (as I described in what I do).

  • Light Blue are interviewing slots, and when there's a dark blue overlapping, that's when I've accepted the interview.

  • Purple sessions are my regular syncs (again, as described in what I do).

  • Green sessions are demonstrations or presentations that I need to attend, or present.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't normally color code my weeks like this (and in fact, in doing this it sent out a bunch of "meeting updates" to everyone involved, so I had to apologise for that), but I wanted to find a way that I could make this easier to digest for someone looking from a higher level, and to make it easier to explain.

You might notice in this particular week I have a few significant events:

  1. Tuesday there's lots of yellow,

  2. Thursday, and

  3. Friday afternoon

Let's break them down a little futher:

Tuesday

I'm currently working in a Tech Management team that does two-week sprints, just like our teams - yay; solidarity! We have our stand-ups at 10am daily (shown by the yellow bar across the mornings), and every two weeks we have a "sprint cross-over day", where we hold a retrospective and a refinement/sprint-planning session. This takes up most of the day on a Tuesday every two weeks, but helps us to share our progress on strategic topics, and any operational concerns.

Thursday

Thursday is generally my "me" day where I do things like "update my management handbook some more" or "read another chapter of that management book" or "prepare for an upcoming appraisal". I mainly focus on my mental health and personal development, and spend time making sure I'm prepared for the rest of the week, and the upcoming week. In fact, I'm typing this up on a Thursday; looking forward to the coloured week above!

If you ever need me on a Thursday, I'm still available on Slack (or WhatsApp in emergencies, like always), but I'm generally slower to respond. This is also a time where I may get in touch with you (via Skype, Hangouts, or Slack) to delegate strategic items if I feel it is beneficial to us both. In that case, I'll normally ask you to let me know when you're free and work around your availability, or just add it to the agenda for our next sync if you're not available.

Occasionally there are sessions that I need to attend on a Thursday, or sessions that I want to host that fit into my "Thursday category", so occasionally you will see me in the office, and I've titled the all-day event on Thursday "Think twice before booking meetings with me, please", because that's all it is; a time that I need, and so if you feel your session is more important ("Hey Mr CEO!"), then I can be flexible.

Friday Afternoon

In the week shown above, I have a big presentation that I need to deliver to the department on Friday afternoon. Granted, this might not be the best time to deliver this presentation, but it's immediately before our monthly update by our CEO, and followed by the monthly "borrel" (i.e.: drinking session).

This time around, it's going to be an on-boarding session, like an orientation session for all the new joiners to understand a bit more about our company and it's history, why we're doing what we're doing, and putting our roles into a little more context. This should be attended by about 20 people, and I have the ability to deliver it in English, so it's going to be quite straightforward (hopefully).

It's not uncommon to see mornings or afternoons for things like this blocked in my agenda, even if the event itself is only going to be an hour or two, sometimes I like to have that space so that I'm not rushing into an event and racing to context switch. If you need me during this time, then (unless you're bleeding and need me to take you to the hospital), it's going to have to wait, sorry.

Meeting etiquette

Speaking of when I'm available during meetings, the short answer is: NEVER!

If I'm spending time with someone, then I want to focus on them! Pinging me on Slack is fine, because I'll get to that between appointments (walking from one room to the other can take a few minutes at my current employer), or "when I can". Interrupting me should really only happen in an emergency. I will also try to give you the same respect.

Now, if a meeting is a general all-hands demo, and what we're discussing isn't involving me, I do occasionally refer to my phone, to archive mail, or clear out Slack notifications, but if I'm doing this, trust me when I also tell you that I'm asking myself why I was even invited in the first place, and making mental notes to excuse myself from future sessions.

It's even worse (for me) if it's a once-off meeting that's run without an agenda, or without goals in the invite. Please, if you're going to host a session, let others know what to expect. I can "roll with the punches" most of the time, but not everyone is like me, thankfully, I might add... Adding an agenda, a goal, or a longer explanation than just "Project X" is just a common courtesy!

Cool, but WHY?

I've outlined above WHAT my schedule looks like, but not WHY!

For people in development roles (i.e.: most of the people that report to me) my calendar looks like an absolute nightmare, and I don't want to be a wanker and just say "this is what my job looks like now", but to a degree, it is.

If I don't schedule syncs well in advance, and expect others to respect them, then we just won't have them. If I don't block out the time that I'm presenting to a group, others will "need" me during that time.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I am yet to work on any sort of management team where "my days are free" and "I get driven by the winds at work". Scheduling, and making sure I allocate time for myself is crucial in terms of organisation and facilitation for me.

There are plenty of other posts, written by much better writers than little ol' me, that go into why you should (or should not) do what I do, but for now, this works, and I hope we can find a way to make it work for us.

TODO: Come back here and link a few other GetThingsDone or RememberTheMilk posts...