How I Spent My Time in 2018/2019

How I Spent My Time in 2018/2019

One of my goals this past year has to get back in the habit of time tracking. I did this for a while back in 2016 when I was the Engineering Manager at Packback, and now 3 years later, I’m here to update how my time allocation has changed.

My Current Role

First, a little bit about what I’m doing and where we are as a company. The Graide Network is around three years old, and I’ve been here over two and a half of them. The first year was mostly building the first real version of the product, the second was iterating, and the third has been growing.

While I’ve consistently had one engineer on my team helping me out, we’re finally starting to bring on more support people in operations and sales, so I’m starting to lend a hand not only in engineering management, but hiring and planning for other parts of the business too. I love it though - I can’t imagine having a “normal” engineering role at this point.

As you can imagine, an engineering team of two doesn’t take a ton of work to manage, but I’ve spent much more time on product planning and development now that I am not the only one contributing to our velocity. I’ve also gotten to dip my toes in some special projects to help our operations team with their process, and I’ve been learning more about roadmapping and OKRs this year.

In addition to all the management and team building stuff, I’m still very hands on. I spend a lot of time coding, triaging bugs, and answering questions, so I can’t claim to be all management yet.

My 2018-2019 Time Breakdown

I started tracking my time again in March, 2018, and now as March 2019 comes to an end, I figured I would take a look at the breakdown:

  • 40% Software Engineering - This is time spent programming and troubleshooting technical issues. It includes weekly deployments, manual database fixes, as well as time spent writing code for major new projects.
  • 25% Business Leadership - Speaking at events, outreach to other CTOs and business mentors, higher level meetings with the leadership team, and helping solve problems outside of product and engineering’s domain fall into this category.
  • 15% Other - This is stuff that I just couldn’t categorize. Administrative tasks, answering emails, traveling to and from meetings, and random interruptions are all included.
  • 12% Product Planning - For a while in 2018 I had a wonderful contractor helping me do product management, so this number fluctuates a bit, but I typically spend half a day each week speccing and meeting with stakeholders to determine product plans.
  • 8% Engineering Management - Still a relatively small fraction of my time, but it spiked when I was hiring or onboarding a new engineer.

Conclusions and Areas for Improvement

In 2016 I had a team of 5, so unsurprisingly, I was doing a lot more managerial work. I also categorized my time a bit differently, so it’s not a one-to-one comparison. Still, I’ve gotten to be more involved in high level planning at Graide, and I’m getting more intentional about who I spend time networking with now. I realized last summer that I was taking too many meetings with people who had little to gain and little to offer from my time, so I’ve started cutting many first meetings back to phone calls to save time.

Overall, I’m satisfied with this breakdown. As I look at where we are and where we need to be, I think this breakdown is okay. Personally, I’d like to be less involved in writing code and I’d also like to pass off more of the product management eventually, but that will have to wait until the second half of 2019.