Day in the Life of a Google Tech Lead Manager


This article was inspired by Matt Welsh's post about his typical day at Google. I thought it would be an interesting exercise trying to sum up mine as well.

7:50am—Alarm goes off, my eyes barely open. I do a first pass on emails from my phone while still in bed—this is especially important when I'm in a project with someone ahead of me timezone wise, e.g: Zurich. I then take a look at the latest news via G+, Facebook and Reddit.

8:20am—Shower time; sometimes I eat greek yogurt-yep, I'm that kind of person now-before grabbing the car keys and driving to work — I'll ride the shuttle on occasion, motion sickness hasn't been helping me to work from the bus lately so I'd rather drive.

8:40am-9:30am—My commute has been varying between 40m and 60m these days. I'll catch up on podcasts while I drive and establish a plan for the day—it ranges from finishing some piece of code to wrapping up a document (re)designing a system then sharing it for review.

9:30am—Before getting to my desk I'll get some water and if I haven't had my yogurt at home I usually get some or eat a banana. Once I get to my desk I'll give email a few more minutes before focusing on whatever my plan for the day is unless I've a meeting.

10:00am—Meeting to catchup with technical project managers from my team to provide feedback on some kind of analysis they have been working on or any other ongoing project.

10:30am—Back to my desk, it's time to get back to the plan of the day. If it's code I will write it and as I've to wait a few seconds or minutes for it to compile. I will glance at comments people added to one of my documents and respond. I may also review someone else's code changes at this point. In case you are wondering, the image is totally legit (nop).

11:00am—I start thinking about wrapping up the morning somehow, some kind of milestone in the code or documents I'm working on so it's easier to get back to it after lunch. It usually takes 30 minutes but sometimes it may take longer and will delay lunch for me.

11:30am—If I don't reach any blockers, the code I've been working on in the morning is ready to be submitted for review by one of my peers. When I'm working on documents instead, it's probably time to (re)share it for review. I check email one more time before lunch, look at the cafeteria menus, then ask around if people want to go grab food…

12:00pm — Back to my desk after lunch I'll take a look at email and my calendar again. My next meeting is at 1pm so I've less than one hour to focus on document authorship, reviewing or coding. I tend to get my email backlog down to zero, it's also easier to chat with me in person at this point. I'm not trying to focus too much. If I'm not too busy I'll glance at the news again.

1:00pm—Weekly team reviews. Our director will go through team designs with me and the team. The presentations are usually not too formal. We talk about what, why and how we are working on something and get input from the entire team.

2:00pm—Time to have a meeting with one of my reports. We usually talk about ongoing projects, blockers (if any) and I generally ask if they need anything new from me and follow-up on action items from the previous week.

2:30pm—I start to think how far I'm from my goals for the day. If it involves coding, I'm usually not very far but certainly found new ways to write what I've been doing along the way or things I should test later —there are some cases when APIs don't work as I expect them to and I wonder if I should defer talking to the authors about it or send someone an email ASAP. It's probably time to wrap up preparing my next interview instead.

3:00pm—It's time to interview someone.

3:45pm—Interview is over. I organize my notes and thoughts about it. It will help me writing formal interview feedback later.

4:00pm—I rarely have meetings after 4p. It's a good time to write and test code, review someone else's code if I have a backlog or do a batch of document updates or even reviews.

5:00pm—I check the traffic and talk to my wife about dinner plans. If I have some minutes to bring my work email close to inbox zero I do so.

5:30pm—It's time to go home. I call my mom or brother during the commute or listen to another podcast. I also tend to naturally replay interviews in my head. If there was no interview, my brain will just replay the most important parts of the day. This is also the time of the day when I will have random ideas that end up being useful later.

7:30pm—I usually catchup on TV shows with my wife as I get my work email to inbox zero, wrap-up interview feedback or do anything else people shouldn't wait for until the next day. When I'm oncall, my shift will usually go until 10pm and I will send an oncall report then. If I'm not oncall I might look through what my coworkers are doing and it's also time to take a peek and explore some other interesting stuff going on internally.

11:50pm—It's bed time.