Photo by Nathan Walls

What Do I Do At Work All Day?

I have no idea if this is actually true, so I decided to do an audit of my calendar.

So what it is that I do all day at work? Here is the breakdown of my time:

So after seeing this, now what?

  • My initial breakdown of “half operations, half product” is close but not completely accurate. Adding up the time spent on recruiting, operational meetings, 75% of 1:1s and 50% of the unstructured time, the actual breakdown comes out to about 60% operations and 40% product. I’d like to move this more towards 50–50, which means being clearer about what specific product and operational responsibilities I want to take on.
  • The time I spend on recruiting is lower than I expected. Granted, the 11% undercounts time spent e-mailing and messaging but it’s still short of the 20% I’d like it to be. Though any specific recruiting activity can feel like a waste — for example, I might send an e-mail but get no response; the interview might turn out to be a no-hire; I might set up coffee but the person’s not interested in a new gig — getting to know external product and design leaders and learning more about our industry through them is always useful. Besides, careers are long, and I’ve seen enough examples of people joining Facebook a year or two after we first talk to them that you can’t evaluate time investment in recruiting on a short-term scale. Ultimately, nothing makes our product better, or makes me love my job more, than working with amazing people. The change to make here on my calendar is to set aside more time for initial meetings with interesting candidates.
  • Something’s gotta give. Given the above two conclusions — wanting to spend more time on product, and wanting to spend more time on recruiting, I need to spend less time doing other things. But what? The answer is operational e-mails and meetings, which means I need to let other folks make more of the calls here. I can also be more efficient in how I respond to e-mails and conduct meetings.
  • More than a fourth of my time is spent on 1:1s, which felt surprisingly high, but I’m happy with this. Given their importance and weight, I’d like to solicit more feedback on making sure our regularly scheduled time feels valuable for the people I’m meeting with.
  • It’s hard to see the global time picture from the week-to-week. Given where we are at any given moment in the product and design process, there can be huge variations in what any given week looks like. For example, in February, I was preparing for a big recruiting trip to London so my calendar was filled with video-conference calls. In August, one of my teams just started Lockdown, so there were a ton of product reviews. This is likely why it’s been hard for me to answer, What does an average day look like? Zooming out and looking at things on a larger time horizon was useful, so I’ll try to do this audit once a year to see how things are trending.

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A collection of essays by Julie Zhuo on design, building products, and observing life.

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Julie Zhuo

Building Sundial. Former Product Design VP @ FB. Author of The Making of a Manager https://amzn.to/2PRwCyW. Find me @joulee. I love people, nuance, and systems.