Time management

It is 5:44 am and I am writing an article about time management. More precisely, about how to schedule my time. I know that sounds crazy but believe me there is a good reason for that crazy time.

At a regular 9 to 5 job

When I had a regular 9 to 5 job I had no problem with time management. I knew I have to arrive at 9 am and I will go home at 5 pm. And the reason is simple: I had an employer who have created a rule and my employer decided when I have to start and when I finish my work. It is really easy.

Freedom when work remotely

In 2012 my life has been changed. From October, I was the first in our company who was allowed to work remotely. There was no culture of remote work, there were only a few rules and I had to figure out how to do my daily job. I become the invisible programmer. Everybody knew about me but nobody saw my face.

That change meant a lot of freedom for me. It is something similar to the change when I have left the high school and started the university. In the high school I had to attend every class and when I didn’t go to the school I had to bring a medical certificate about my illness or I have been punished. Opposite of that at the university nobody cared about me. I had completely freedom of what I do and when I did it. I just had to pass my exams.

Time management problems

When somebody works remotely it is really easy to lose control over the time. Sometimes you start your work a bit later and sometimes you finish it at midnight. Or You might have a good idea at 10 pm and you sit down to your computer and start to implement it. At first hearing, it sound good but actually that means you have no idea about how many hours you actually work to your employer and when do you do that.

It causes two problems: First of all you don’t know how much your salary per hour is, because you don’t even know how many hours you have worked. Secondly, your team does not know when you are available for them. You will be the invisible programmer and nobody will know, when they can reach you. And it is horrible because you work in a team. You have to find a way to be visible for the others. And that is what I want to write about in this blog: how you can be visible, when you are the invisible programmer in your working environment.

Proper time management

I think the best solution for time management is simple: You have to define when you will work. In 2012 I had a simple solution for that: I decided to work from 10 am to 18 pm and set my alarm clock to 9:45 am and 17:55 pm. That was my crutch to be strict on my time, and I knew when I will start and I when I will finish my work.

I have decided to do that in the same way as working in the office. When I was late or I had to go out somewhere I always sent a message to my manager and my team and they knew when I was unavailable. They knew they can call me from 10 am and they knew when I went from my desk and when I will response their messages.

It was a bit easier when I had worked in the office: when I left my desk everybody saw I am not here. I am visible at the office. When I came back they could ask their questions. And I have created a rule that fakes that I am in the office so my team could trust me because my behavior was transparent for them.

My example

It is now 2017 and there were a lot of change during the last five years: I still work at the same company but the company is way larger, today I am not the only one who works remotely, I have two kids, I work on a way different project and I have my own side project so my schedule changed a lot. But I show you my daily schedule at the moment:

  • 05:00 – 07:00: Working on side project
  • 07:00 – 09:00: Family stuff: breakfast bring the older to kindergarten, etc
  • 09:00 – 11:30: Work
  • 11:30 – 12:30: Lunch break (I know I should work on that. It takes a bit more time than it needs)
  • 12:30 – 17:00: Hard work
  • 17:00 – 19:00: Family stuff
  • 19:00 – 19:40: Fitness break
  • 19:40 – 22:00: Family stuff / Learning something If I have time

That is my basic schedule. I try to keep the timing, of course I cannot be strict to that schedule all the time but I think this is a good frame for my day.