My Daily Schedule — Somehow I Manage
If you want the office, you get the title :)
I thought I’d write a little bit about my daily schedule and how I manage to fit everything including family, fitness, work, and others.
I realize this is not a one-size-fits-all as my job allows me to be flexible with the hours and doesn’t require my bottom on my seat at certain times.
4:55 Wake Up
Yes, every single day, including Sat and Sun.
Going to sleep at a particular time (10 pm or earlier) and waking up at a particular time focused a lot for me. My sleep quality is better than before, I wake up refreshed, and I don’t find I need any extra time in bed.
I keep my alarm clock (phone) far from the bed, on the floor. It’s funny; I throw my phone on the floor (we have carpet in the bedroom) randomly before I go to bed. When it goes off, I have to look for it in panic or everyone else will wake up, that’s some good motivation :)
5–6 am Warming up
I take the first hour of the day really slow. I make tea, I sit and watch some TV, I spend some time on social media. Sitting and drinking my tea, having a light breakfast and just warming up for the day.
6–8 am Work
This is my time for deep work. The time I spend on big-ticket items or items that require quiet time and a lot of thinking.
Being a team leader, this is the time I will spend on working through the plans, architecting solutions, reviewing tickets and tasks, making sure the team is on track and general upkeep of the schedule.
I divide the week; there are days that team management takes up this time and days that my personal tasks take up this time.
8–9 am Get Ready
Nothing exciting. Shower, getting dressed and going to work
No, I don’t live in another state, and I don’t spend hours in my car. I bike to work.
Direct from my house to work is around 19mi but I almost never take the direct route, it has too many traffic lights, and it’s annoying.
I usually take the longer route on the way to work and the shorter on the way back home, but this is the part that I change the most, depending on how twitchy I feel.
Here’s a screenshot the last eight weeks leading up to today.
For commuting, the secret is to diversify, change the route, change the speed, change the effort, embrace the suck at times.
I don’t listen to audiobooks during my rides; I don’t listen to professional podcasts, this is my time, my brain needs to shut off from work and other stuff. Those will creep in of course, and I will come to my team with ideas and solutions the day after.
11–4(5) pm — Work
My time at work doesn’t change much at all.
I have standup meetings, 1:1, scrum planning, meeting with the product manager(s) etc. It just sounds like a lot but I try to minimize meeting time as much as possible.
I have time for deep work while at work too, it’s very important to me.
Here’s my secret with meetings, I spend the time in the morning to write and articulate my ideas and expectations. When we get to a meeting, it’s just tightening around an already written notion that everyone had a chance to read. I find this especially useful if the meeting is with 3+ people. Prose, that’s where it’s at.
Here’s a concrete example:
I had a meeting with the AI team (4 people) for 10 minutes. (Yes, 10 minutes)
Before this meeting, there was a design document that everyone read and approved.
During the meeting, we decided that because the DevOps team is tied up in other projects, the AI team will work on the terraform part of SageMaker.
We did not go into the resources needed or any specifics, just the decision for team allocation.
After the meeting, wrote this document that lays out in detail the resources we need to have SageMaker on our environment.
When a team member from the AI team picks up the work, they will have a clear list of goals.
4(5) pm — Commuting back home
If I go directly home, I am faster with the bike than with a car standing in traffic and numbing my brain.
If I need more effort that day, I will go the long way home.
I try to be home by 6:30 during the daylight savings time and 6 pm now.
6–9 pm — Family time
I come home, I put my phone in the charger, I don’t touch it, it’s a distraction.
This is family time, shower, dinner, reading, coding.
We have 3 kids with one on the way so it’s a handful.
Putting the phone aside and not focusing on it or things that I am missing makes it for a dedicated and wonderful time.
Trying to do family stuff while holding your phone, typing on slack, responding to email, that doesn’t work (for me).
The exception of this would be that there is an urgent matter at work.
What is urgent?
The major thing you need to understand is that there is urgent and there is important. Anything urgent is important but not all things important are also urgent.
Urgent is production being down. You start by having an engineering culture that does not allow for this to happen every day, every week or even every month. It’s not normal for you to be putting out fires every single day.
Important can usually wait. Async communication, learn to embrace it.
10 pm — Bed Time
No TV in the bedroom, I never watch TV trying to get to sleep.
I am usually wiped by 10 pm, my body is trained to go to sleep at this time; I just naturally get really tired around 9:30.
Bike, work, and family is the order of which things fall.
Let’s take the most mundane of examples, I need to take the family car for service. I will spend the morning with my kids, I will take the car to service and work there, work from home or go to work with Lyft and maybe bike indoors at night.
Winter days are super short and I don’t like to ride my bike in the dark, I will leave work earlier to make sure I have enough time to ride in the daylight.
During the winter, my routes change so I don’t ride into the sun, the glare in driver's eyes makes it extremely dangerous and me less visible. Even the strongest blinking light doesn’t help, they just don’t see you.
That’s about it. Would love to answer any questions if you have any and discuss in the comments.