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How Many Good Hours Do Employees Work?

You might call me a bean counter, but it's a fact that every manager needs to manage the distractions that take time away from the real work that needs to be done by their team. At my last job I tried to never let meetings and other interruptions grow beyond 8 hrs/week, leaving a mythical 32 hours for "real" coding. In practice I had a very hard time getting that number to average about 30, usually due to interruptions to clarify specs or to accomodate the somehow unavoidable task switching. If the numbers started to trend below 28 hrs/week that was a sign that we were losing focus and needed to go back to managing our time a little more aggressively.

Why does it matter? Especially in the software end of the business it often seems like everyone and everything is more important than actually writing some code! Writing code isn't the same as making widgets of course, but it's easy to get mired in meetings, water cooler discussions, etc, and lose focus on the primary task. More importantly - and I think this is how you sell it - is that often those interruptions and lost focus will cause you to end up working 45-50 hours to accomplish what you could have gotten done in a 40 hour week (with 32 hours of real work). I work to support family, and I'd rather be home than at work. If managing my time better can help me do that, why wouldn't I?

And note, it's even more true now that Im part of a 3 person company. I have to stay focused or important things don't get done!

All of this came up because a recent blog post from Steve McConnell (the Code Complete guy) wrote that trying to figure out what that weekly goal should be is very very hard and not easy to achieve. Smarter guy than I am and a much wider range of experience, but it was interesting to see that someone is asking/looking at the issue. No easy answers!


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


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