Site Reliability Team Lead at News UK

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30 April 2011

Geek Work

by Mike

This isn’t aimed at any one person, but it explains my thoughts on how geeks (especially me) work…

Don’t complain when I fail to get your work done if…

I work with people in the UK and the US so don’t be suprised if I am working at odd hours by your standards.

If I go bed at 4am due to speaking to people in the US, I might not be up until 10 or even 11am. This does not mean I am lazy. It is unreasonable to expect me to be up at 8am and be in a chirpy mood and thinking straight on less than 6 hours sleep.

Just because you don’t see me move from in front of a computer for hours, doesn’t mean I’m not getting anything done. My product is intangible and if you don’t understand what you are looking at how can you judge my output?

If you interrupt me it can take 15 minutes or more to get back into my ‘zone’ interrupting me every 10 minutes sets my productivity back 80% or more. Think of it this way, if I wake you up in the middle of the night, how quickly does your brain sink back into sleep? Sometimes it can be almost instant, other times you might fail completely.

If I know I have a big task to do I will try to avoid all outside interruptions, this might mean working through the night or having to work elsewhere. I want focused uninterrupted time that allows me to hit the zone and know I have time to deal with the problem I am trying to solve. Call it a flaw, but knowing I don’t have this time means I will struggle to even get started.

I may ignore instant messages and emails if I am not in a position to switch my brain away from my current task. This does not mean I am ignoring you specificly. If it is really urgent you can phone me.

After being zoned in for a few hours or more I may surface and suddenly realise I have need to food or drink, or to deal with other essential functions. These will take priority until dealt with as they are probably what made me surface in the first place. Do not take offence.

– Dec 10 2010