Are you able to take the Timesnapper challenge?
One of the recurring themes that often comes up when I talk with people is how they mention how little time they feel they have to accomplish tasks in their day to day jobs. They also get discouraged when they can't seem to find time to explore new techniques, tools, apis etc. Outside of having a company that supports your ability to do self directed learning and exploration, you are also ultimately responsible for how you spend your time at work.
One of the most difficult aspects of teams that start to adopt pair programming is that now people are held up to a level of accountability that they may not be initially comfortable with. "Turn of your instant messenger", "Don't respond to that email", "twitter can wait". All of these are common phrases that can be uttered if you are in an environment where you spend a large part of your day working directly with another person beside you. Aside from the benefits of accountability, pair programming has many other benefits that can allow it to greatly streamline a teams development efforts. This post, however, is not about pair programming. It is about the sole task of getting people to realize where they actually spend their time at work and more specifically, as developers in front of their computers.
I am going to make the assumption that you don't have someone who can sit beside you and prompt you every time that you are misusing your time at work. I am going to challenge you to embark on an exercise that can allow you to greatly streamline your personal development efforts at work (and by development I mean "coding effort"). Download the tool Timesnapper and make a commitment to run it on your desktop for the next 2 weeks. I am not going to go into a discussion about the tool as the website itself does a great job of that. What I will say is that used properly it can be a way to help you analyze your habits while you are in front of the computer. It is a completely unbiased judge of where you spend your time. If you run the report at the end of the day and are not completely happy with your results you can use it as a calibration tool to make adjustments as you try to figure out a way to maximize that 8 hour day. Small improvements made over time are the things that can reap huge benefits.
Can you take the Timesnapper challenge?
Develop With Passion