Where Did The Time Go?

Back in June I posted my initial entry on email time management with my intention of allocating time windows for email instead of spending all day on that alone. In August I posted some observations and a pie chart of the data so far.

As 2009 winds down, I now have about seven months of data so seems like a good time to revisit the numbers. I'll start with the bottom line, how much time went to what?

So the email timesuck has continued to be the problem it ever was, with 45% of the time between May to December spent on that alone. No matter how I slice it, that's really bad. My observations from the August entry are as valid as then. The relentless email firehose is hard to shut down so keeping it at a reasonable percentage of time is seemingly impossible. But at least segregating email reading into well-defined time windows during the day does help a great deal.

The really sad story in that pie chart is that the two slices which represent Real Work - the fun part of software engineering - add up to less than 10% of the total! The blue slice is Web Stack engineering work (8%) and the green slice is Web Server engineering work ( ploticus obscured the text but it's about 1.5%). So there you have it, about 90% of the time of a product architect/senior engineer at Sun is spent on email and overhead.

Put that way, those numbers are appalling beyond words. Clearly this must change, so I'm going to change it. Starting this week I will cut down email time down to 90-120 minutes a day (I've been doing well over three hours minimum) and start to prioritize Real Work higher on my task list above TPS report-kind of work.

Can this plan succeed? Well I guess you can read my update in a few months to see. I'm looking forward to a much more reasonably balanced pie chart...


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