Time Management tips for Senior Engineers

For Senior Engineers and leads in higher positions, time is a very precious resource. Amidst the constant demands for code reviews, brainstorming sessions, planning, meetings, and general assistance, your time to sit down and code often suffers. The result? We're left feeling drained and unsatisfied with our productivity by day's end.

This is something that I have personally struggled with and have had multiple conversations about with many people in my team.

One approach that has worked for me, is to structure my work around focused 30 minute blocks - similar to the Pomodoro technique.

The 30-Minute Work Block: Why It Works

The 30-minute block is not arbitrary. It balances deep focus for you and accessibility for your team. During these blocks, mute all notifications. If you're in an open office, a simple "Do Not Disturb" note on your desk or laptop signals to others that you're in deep work mode.

Worried about emergencies? Trust that if something truly requires your urgent attention, your team will find a way to get through.

Implementing the 30-Minute Strategy

  1. Schedule Your Blocks: Aim for periods of the day when you’re least likely to be interrupted. In my experience, early mornings or late afternoons often work best.

  2. Communicate Your Availability: Let your team know about this strategy. A shared calendar or a simple notification can help manage expectations.

  3. Prepare for Transition: If you're nearing the end of a block and aren't done, leave detailed comments or a //TODO in your code. This ensures you can pick up exactly where you left off without missing a beat.

Conclusion

For senior engineers, the challenge isn’t just about managing time; it's about managing attention. The 30-minute work block is designed to respect your need for deep work while acknowledging your role as a leader and a resource for your team.