14 votes

How many hours per day are you working?

If you are tracking your time, how many hours of focused work are you doing per day on average?

What I mean with focused work is only the time that you are working. Not counting the time you take a break, not counting the time you go to the bathroom, not counting the time you get up to drink water, etc. If you don't stop your time-tracker during non-work activities, please mention it.

19 comments

  1. [8]
    rkcr
    Link
    I don't use a time tracker but I feel like it'd be a mistake to track the exact minutes I'm working (as a developer). If I think about a problem while I go to the bathroom... is that work? If I'm...

    I don't use a time tracker but I feel like it'd be a mistake to track the exact minutes I'm working (as a developer). If I think about a problem while I go to the bathroom... is that work? If I'm browsing Tildes while code compiles... is that work?

    Not only that, but development is nonlinear work - amount of time does not equal amount of output. Sometimes I log off for the day, frustrated at a problem. I wake up the next morning, refreshed, and solve it instantly. I wasn't focused on work at all, but just taking the time for myself sped up the time when I do.

    17 votes
    1. emdash
      Link Parent
      Yup. Work is fungible. Tracking time, for the most part, as a measure of anything other than what you get paid if you're on an hourly rate, is a mistake. It's much better to track outputs. If...

      Yup. Work is fungible. Tracking time, for the most part, as a measure of anything other than what you get paid if you're on an hourly rate, is a mistake. It's much better to track outputs. If you're an employer—measure how well employees are doing work, or getting development done, or how well they're doing their job. Measuring how long they're doing their job for the most part is a contrived heuristic that exists mostly because it's easier to measure.

      I'm a company co-founder and also the company developer. I don't bother tracking time at all. There's so many things that can affect my work productivity. Sometimes I'll step away from the desktop for a run or a walk and analyse a problem in my head that ends up speeding up development later. Other times I'll find I can't get in the zone during normal business hours, and will instead work at 8PM on a Saturday until I feel tired and want to sleep.

      All I need to know when I'm shipping or building from a roadmap and output standpoint is, "am I on schedule? If yes, great! Who needs to know what I'm doing next? If no, why not? How can I resolve this to get back on schedule?".

      6 votes
    2. [6]
      evrim
      Link Parent
      I hear what you are saying, but I think you are assuming that the purpose of tracking time is measuring output. For me, it is not. I work from home, trying to get into freelancing at the moment. I...

      I hear what you are saying, but I think you are assuming that the purpose of tracking time is measuring output.

      For me, it is not. I work from home, trying to get into freelancing at the moment. I don't have a boss, and I'm only working on personal projects in hopes to develop a portfolio. My issue is, how do I decide if I had a good day? How can I compare today to yesterday to see if I have improved? What about my average over time, has it been improving? Maybe I'm being too strict, but I do want an answer to these questions.

      If you are working as an employee, you get paid in the end of a month, you get feedback from your colleagues and superiors, and none of these is a great way to measure your productivity, but at least it can give you a peace of mind at the end of the day.

      I am really having a hard time assessing my day, and it's kind of hard to fall asleep easily when I can't objectively say that I have had a good day today. For this purpose, measuring time somewhat helps. It's a tangible, objective metric.

      Another positive thing about it is that, you can clearly tell when you're done. You set a goal, and when you hit that many hours of tracked time, you are done for the day.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        rkcr
        Link Parent
        I believe that what one measures has a huge impact on one's motivations. If you decide to measure "hours worked" then that will change how many hours you work, with your stated goal of improving...

        I believe that what one measures has a huge impact on one's motivations. If you decide to measure "hours worked" then that will change how many hours you work, with your stated goal of improving your hours.

        But like ~emdash said, hours worked is not what you actually care about. Just putting in more hours doesn't mean you make any progress in the direction you want - just that you sat in front of a computer longer.

        Freelancing is your real concern. I would examine your exact goals and gather metrics based on that - like the progress of your portfolio, or how many leads you've been following.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          evrim
          Link Parent
          I definitely agree with what you're saying, and I am sure that part of my issues are because that I don't really have a very strict goal at the moment, apart from working on the portfolio projects...

          I definitely agree with what you're saying, and I am sure that part of my issues are because that I don't really have a very strict goal at the moment, apart from working on the portfolio projects I mentioned in my comment.

          It's possible to set certain tasks to work on a day before, and measure that, but in my experience it's much harder. Granted I'm sure it's partly because not having a definite deadline makes it harder to just focus on getting things work by the deadline, and I tend to give in to scope-creep and unnecessary optimizations.

          I'll try setting deadlines and strict goals another go (although, from my experience, it's much much harder when they are not external deadlines, and that's why I decided to measure daily performance in a more tangible manner, such as time-tracking).

          1. Omnicrola
            Link Parent
            Freelancing is hard. I did it on the side for long enough to know that if I did it full time, I would be miserable and earn just enough money to not starve. Building a pattern and structure for...

            Freelancing is hard. I did it on the side for long enough to know that if I did it full time, I would be miserable and earn just enough money to not starve.

            Building a pattern and structure for yourself is key, so you're on the right track. Like others have said, I would focus more on tasks accomplished and progress made than actual time spent.

            That said, time boundaries on specific things can be helpful. Like dedicating 1hr a day specifically to making sales calls. Or 1hr to writing follow-up emails. Or even 30min for organizing your desk. It can help both make sure you do things that you're not excited about, as well as give yourself permission to do things that aren't "strictly productive" but contribute to good mental health.

            3 votes
        2. vektor
          Link Parent
          Ehh. All the metrics you propose are really hard to do. I'm with evrim here, I do try to track my time. Why? Because I have the impression that my progress in what I do is mostly limited by how...

          Ehh. All the metrics you propose are really hard to do. I'm with evrim here, I do try to track my time. Why? Because I have the impression that my progress in what I do is mostly limited by how many hours I put in. It's not a problem of using my time efficiently - I can self-regulate that. The problem is that I don't think all my time "mentally clocked in" is spent sitting at the desk, and not all my time sitting at the desk is spent actually working.

      2. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        As someone who runs his own business from home: a day with 4 concentrated hours of work is a very productive day.

        As someone who runs his own business from home: a day with 4 concentrated hours of work is a very productive day.

        4 votes
  2. feigneddork
    Link
    I'm supposed to be working 40 hours a week as a senior developer, but due to several things like Running out of projects so I'm essentially doing nothing Browsing tildes, twitter, news, reddit...

    I'm supposed to be working 40 hours a week as a senior developer, but due to several things like

    • Running out of projects so I'm essentially doing nothing
    • Browsing tildes, twitter, news, reddit
    • Staff being furloughed means the knowledge of systems have been furloughed, so at times when I am "working" I'm basically trying to study the existing systems so we can figure out how to move on

    it can range to as low as 4 hours a week to the 40 hours a week as contracted.

    5 votes
  3. Omnicrola
    Link
    It varies a lot, since I'm WFH now. There first week of quarantine, I probably worked an hour a day. But that was mostly because it was my last week at that job, and nobody gave any shits...

    It varies a lot, since I'm WFH now. There first week of quarantine, I probably worked an hour a day. But that was mostly because it was my last week at that job, and nobody gave any shits especially me.

    New job it varies wildly and is harder to measure. I'm salary now, so I don't keep track of how many hours except in a very general way. If I need a break I take one. If I feel like stopping for the day, I do. If I'm having fun and want to keep coding, I do. I think if I tried to strictly measure, I probably am "heads down" working less that 6hrs a day.

    4 votes
  4. moocow1452
    Link
    I work four tens at a call center, so depending on how granular you get to, I work 40 hours a week, 10 a day (with a half hour lunch and two 15 minutes breaks), more if you count the time I'm...

    I work four tens at a call center, so depending on how granular you get to, I work 40 hours a week, 10 a day (with a half hour lunch and two 15 minutes breaks), more if you count the time I'm sitting at a computer as work given setup and if calls run over, and less if you count the time I am off the phone as downtime.

    3 votes
  5. [2]
    asoftbird
    Link
    uni student in a fulltime project here; Focused? From work at home? Maybe 1-2 hours a day if not less. Fully unproductive, really. Can't focus at home, nobody to quickly discuss things with, it...

    uni student in a fulltime project here; Focused? From work at home? Maybe 1-2 hours a day if not less. Fully unproductive, really. Can't focus at home, nobody to quickly discuss things with, it just sucks.

    3 votes
    1. Tardigrade
      Link Parent
      I'm the same. I went from hours productive in the library and switching off when I got home to nothing productive at all and 3 hours being a good day

      I'm the same. I went from hours productive in the library and switching off when I got home to nothing productive at all and 3 hours being a good day

  6. AugustusFerdinand
    Link
    If I average it out over the course of a year, I do 2-4 hours of actual work per day. There are weeks that are shit-hit-the-fan 60 hours+ to get it done, normal weeks where 20 hours or so of...

    If I average it out over the course of a year, I do 2-4 hours of actual work per day. There are weeks that are shit-hit-the-fan 60 hours+ to get it done, normal weeks where 20 hours or so of actual work is done, and weeks that bring the average down like this week and last week. My quarterly tasks are nearly completed, I go on vacation next week after not being allowed one for the past 5 months due to a full scale project, and I've pretty much checked out already. I've done zero hours of actual work this week and that's fine as short of the single day I need to finish my personal quarterly project we're kinda in a holding pattern while everyone else catches up on their stuff to finish before the arbitrary 6/30 deadline. So there's nothing new coming out and short of being available to answer questions that I'm the expert on, I'm not doing squat. This will change come July with renewed to dos.

    3 votes
  7. Overzeetop
    Link
    I'm at my desk ten hours a day, typically, five days a week. In a productive week I have 25-30 billable hours (actual time working on design or actively writing a report). I don't count...

    I'm at my desk ten hours a day, typically, five days a week. In a productive week I have 25-30 billable hours (actual time working on design or actively writing a report). I don't count phone/email inquiries, writing proposals, answering general questions, reading trade articles, cleaning, filing, or arguing with people on reddit.

    2 votes
  8. SkewedSideburn
    Link
    I don't track my time, but it's about 4-6 hours. I can't work for 8 hours straight and not lose productivity. I'd also feel like shit at the end of the day

    I don't track my time, but it's about 4-6 hours. I can't work for 8 hours straight and not lose productivity. I'd also feel like shit at the end of the day

    2 votes
  9. teaearlgraycold
    Link
    Probably 4 or 5 hours a day between meetings, maintenance work, helping co-workers and programming. Some days I might put in a full 8 and others 0 (without calling it in as PTO since that's not...

    Probably 4 or 5 hours a day between meetings, maintenance work, helping co-workers and programming. Some days I might put in a full 8 and others 0 (without calling it in as PTO since that's not tracked anyway).

    1 vote
  10. vegai
    Link
    4-6 hours per day seems about correct, with occasional slumps and spikes as needed. I slightly distrust people who claim significantly more hours, at least for intellectual work.

    4-6 hours per day seems about correct, with occasional slumps and spikes as needed. I slightly distrust people who claim significantly more hours, at least for intellectual work.

    1 vote
  11. Staross
    Link
    With the lock-down, working at home, probably like 2-3, usually a bit more.

    With the lock-down, working at home, probably like 2-3, usually a bit more.

    1 vote