My working hours explained

How much time do I spend on my actual web developer job?

Pie chart of my work hours

I’ve spent the last three months picking random normal working days and noting the amount of time I would spend on different tasks.

Why did I do this?

I wasn’t always getting as much as I wanted out of my working days and I wanted to find out if I was doing something especially wrong.
As it turns out I need to optimise my time spent on communicating with clients.

What did I get out of this?

Although these numbers are not accurate since I timed myself and scribbled the results here and there on any piece of paper I could find on my desk, it still gave me a vague idea on the time consuming tasks. Those areas are the ones where I need more efficiency.

Results of the study *

Over three months I picked 10 days and took note of the time spent on recurrent tasks.

  • 59% Web development
    This includes coding, creating graphics, layouts, wireframes, etc.
  • 24% Emails and phone calls with clients
  • 9% Reading web stuff and tech news
  • 5% Training
  • 3% Accounting

I realise all these tasks are essential to what I do and I can already think of cutting down to 2% the accounting since the more familiar I will get with those procedures, the faster I will be. But that won’t make a huge impact on my daily workload.

I definitely need to find a more efficient way to communicate with my clients.
Delivering quotes and explaining projects in detail is where I am wasting most of my time. It’s also where I get the chance to give clients the attention they need though.

Not replying emails is not an option, I can picture the phone call a week later:
Client: “Are you dead?”
Me: “Yes, but I’ll be back next Monday.”

An assistant is not an option, can’t afford it. Plus I’m not sure I would go there before I feel I have optimise my way of working, don’t really want to pass on my bad habits and then blame them for the mess! I want to be the good boss when it comes to it.

Write and speak faster… Joking.

I can reserve only certain times of the day to the communication bit and reduce disruptions to the web development work to a minimum.
Yes, that’s probably what I will be doing.

Suggestions? Please leave a comment!

* This is not a scientific nor serious statistic study, it was only made by myself for myself and I doubt it has any scientific value at all, so draw your own conclusions.

2 thoughts on “My working hours explained

  1. MikeD

    The more you reply to emails the more emails it generates.
    I find it winds down some if you stop responding so readily. So wait until you are prodded or until a time you have set aside specifically for going thru emails.
    Also it could be worth analysing the types of emails you are sending. Are they questions that could be already answered by a page on your website or something in the contract or early negotiations?

    Also with regards to time sheeting take a look at my blog post here:

  2. ginestra Post author

    Hi Mike,

    I agree with you, the more promptly you reply to emails the more emails you are likely to get. That’s probably why I will try to set some time aside specifically to answer emails instead of disrupting my workflow from time to time during the day.

    Didn’t think about the kind of emails I’m sending, will pay attention to that and maybe I can group some answers instead of going back and forth replying bit by bit.

    I read your blog about auto-screenshooting the monitor to keep track of the tasks. Definitely a creative way to go. It could work whilst working on heavy days of coding, creating layouts and… well, emailing!

    But I couldn’t time myself reading or talking on the phone or going to meetings. Fair enough, I can’t get it to do all the timing work for me, right?

    My preferred way at the moment is to make a todo list for the day, so what I am supposed to do, and scribbled against it, so I can also monitor if I managed to get all done, in which case I’d reward myself with a big ice scream!


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