Since the past 2 years, I have had a good control of my life. I would go to work at 9am and leave the office at 6 in the evening, no matter if my work was complete or not. It wasn't really the same when I had just started working. First I had my own startup, which as many of you might know, is a lot of work. I was basically working 24 hours, 7 days a week. Still I would save some time for myself to read, explore the city along with my camera, see some friends every 2 weeks or so.
After leaving my own dear company, because of some unexpected circumstances I started working as a product manager for software products. The job title implies that I am the one in control of everything related to product but it also includes the burden of being in control of myself (including my time). Even if I wasn't, I had to pretend the I was. The truth be told, I was still learning.
Eventually I did learn. I decided to walk into the office at 9am and walk out at 6pm. But there is only so many days you can do that when your work is dependent on other team members. Being one of the many product managers, I realized that I can't do much for the whole company, but for my team only. I started talking to my team about some ideas within the constraints.
- Realistic Deadlines
I would intentionally add about 20 percent more time from my end into what my team would decide as a deadline. For instance, a 4 week project would become a 5 week project. It meant a lot for myself and my team, when we would not have to work after office hours to squeeze all the work within the optimistic deadline that they set. I observed that people (including me) are very optimistic when you ask them how long would it take? - No new releases on Fridays
This really helped us a lot as nothing would break in production on weekend. Hence the updates would all happen on Monday morning, even when everything was ready and well-tested by Friday evening.
The team was very happy with the above two decision we collectively made. They got their weekends back rather than literally working from home when I would call them because I got another call from a client.
I would start my day with meditation. After work, go home and read each day. If weather was nice & cool (cool is good for Indians) I would go into the city with my camera or friends. Drive my motorbike into the Himalayas almost every weekend. All of it was great. I loved my job, which was partly teaching people about best practices in programming and talking to visual designers about how to communicate with developers. One day suddenly, I decided to go for Masters in Design.
The whole design of my time management crumbled. Being a student is harder than anyone expects, I felt like pushed back into start-up days where I am working 24x7, except now my Sundays are also taken away. I have been unsuccessfully trying to get back into the plan I designed in my planner at the beginning of this year (this semester). It's hard. It just feels like time management is a hallucinating pursuit. Now I sit here asking myself, can I manage something that is limited? (number of hours each day). And a voice inside me says:
You can only manage something that is limited.
Ok! But am I allured to control my life? Sort of like engineering my life? Or is it that my classes ask me to be creative every week consistently without considering that creativity is a virtue that brain gets into and out of unpredictably. It's hard for me to design a new logo every week, however easy to calculate weight of a tower everyday similarly. (no intention to discriminate professions) And then there is an ultimate question: Can I design for unpredictable future? If yes, how much?