Something that I’ve always watched, but recently become more focused on, is time management.
It’s had a big impact on my productivity and overall quality of life, and I think this experience is universal for anyone who prioritizes time management.
Most likely if you are a successful developer, you already have certain systems in place – this article is meant to encourage you to continue and improve these practices.
This quote from Seth Godin is a good one to take to heart: “If we wasted money the way we waste time, we’d all be bankrupt.”
The converse is true in terms of using the time we have well.
Let’s say you’re a developer and you can create $100 million worth of value annually (i.e., build $100 million worth of apartments). Assuming you work 50 hours a week and take only two weeks of vacation, that gives you 150,000 working minutes in a year.
Divide $100 million by 150,000 working minutes and you’ll soon see your time is worth $667 per minute. That should make you stop and reflect on your calendar and your schedule.
Derek Lobo’s routine for time management
One of the things I’ve seen successful people do, pretty much without exception, is wake up early and have a scheduled routine for the start of the day. Similarly, they often have an evening or end-of-day routine that helps set them up for the following day.
This normally means turning in at a reasonable hour of the night to allow for proper rest and readiness for the next day.
In my own life I have found that having a dedicated scheduler (separate from my administrative assistant) who manages my calendar and all of my activities, both professional and personal, leads to my most productive life.
We have learned from experience that when I try to step in and schedule meetings, it leads to confusion and inefficiencies.
My scheduler acts as a gatekeeper in my life. She understands the worth of my time and that meetings need to pass a certain threshold of importance to make it into my calendar.
We have recently adopted a new practice: for every internal company meeting booked with me, the person requesting the meeting needs to provide a written worksheet outlining the purpose and desired results of the meeting. I do the same for meetings with clients.
Related to this practice is the importance of delegating tasks. Your time is valuable and so it shouldn’t be spent on activities you don’t want to be doing.
Almost every nonessential task can be delegated if you have the right team in place.
Creating a calendar and a routine
Having a set calendar with regularly scheduled time slots or meetings for recurring tasks ensures that important items don’t get left by the wayside amid the regular busy-ness of life.
It’s also important to build in some free time or buffer time slots.
This often leads to less stress in times of unexpected emergencies or opportunities, because you have confidence that everything else on your plate is being managed and you have bandwidth to address the pressing situation at hand.
One last tip I’ll share is the importance of not being interrupted. As a busy developer leading a large team, your time as well as your knowledge and expertise, is in high demand.
However, the work you have scheduled into your calendar is most times the most important.
Thus, having your administrative support team protect you from interruptions is a key aspect of managing your prioritizing and sticking to your schedule.
Intentional time management leads to a better, more fulfilling and likely a more profitable life. It’s one success habit I see in common with successful developers!