The 4 Hour Programmer? I Don’t Buy That

February 6, 2012

Jay On Software is a new guy around the blog – a bit older than my own BlogGeek. He published a post recently about his work schedule, which comprises of… only 4 hours of coding a day.

To make it easy to understand, here’s his daily routine time table (something asked by a commenter on his blog):

Daily Routine of a 4 Hour Programmer:

04:30-07:00Meditation, Writing, Goal Review, Family Breakfast
07:00-11:00Programmer Time
11:00-13:00>Gym, Lunch, and Shopping>
13:00-18:00>Learning and Talking Time
18:00-20:00Family Time
20:00-20:30Reflection and Brain Work

Well… I wish I could do such a routine. It might work for Jay – or any one working as a consultant/outsourcer that doesn’t need to collaborate and cooperate with others, but it just doesn’t cut it when you need to develop anything else.

  • Working in a team means that there are a lot of interruptions going on – some of them are bad, such as phone calls, meetings and questions from colleagues. But others are essential – they are the cooperation and collaboration between people. The consulting on architecture, design or user interaction. Things that take place all the time. Yes – we need to reduce the amount of interruptions, but not get to a complete shutdown of sensory inputs.
  • The fact that 5 hours are dedicated for learning and talking seems like a bit of a waste. I think it can be packed into smaller amounts. While I would like the developers I work with to improve and learn, I wouldn’t want that to take the better part of their working day – especially not if I am paying for that.
  • There’s no room to sit and think. There is, but it comes at the end of the day or before the beginning of it. I found myself heading for the roof of the building to think and reflect more than once in the middle of a coding session and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
  • When you have customers, they have their own needs and time tables. I found myself more than once coming to work during the weekend for long debug sessions. No fun there, but it is a necessity.

The things I can take from it:

  • Waking early and starting early. Others are preaching it as well
  • Putting time aside for learning and improving purposes
  • Reflecting the day’s work. I used to do that when I had a dog. Taking him out mornings and evenings meant reflection time for me. I don’t have that any longer and it is time that I need

I might not agree with Jay, but he does has a point – trying to put things in a constructive work day improves the overall effectiveness – or so they say. I wish I could squeeze my “work day” into 4 hours.

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