How's the Thesis? - Putting the Hours In

This week’s thesis work is Windows focused, which means that I was working in Windows 7 all week long. It was going a bit slow earlier, but I made a lot of progress today, and I almost am at the stage where I put the portable app together and start beta testing. There’s a bit of server work to do still, but I think I should meet my goal of opening to the public in early February.

Today has been quite productive, getting the client to the stage where I am comfortable packaging it up. At the same time, it was quite frustrating throughout the day looking at the clock and seeing that I wasn’t making the progress that I wanted on my hour goal. The goal for today was to get 8 hours of real work done on the project. I think that I am counting today as about 7 hours, even though I only logged 6. At the same time, I worked from about 10:30 am to 9 pm, with only a couple breaks.

If you think that math is a little wonky, it is. Even if we take out the breaks that I did take – half an hour for lunch at around noon, and an hour and a half for my regular run around the neighborhood, it should be eight and a half hours of work. However, I’m using an interesting bit of math for counting my work on most normal days, and I was trying to continue it for the “thesis day” that I have scheduled each week.

I mentioned this method before, the Pomodoro technique. I have my intervals set at 30 minutes for the work time, and 5 minutes of break. It usually works, and I’m not exactly not thinking about my work when I walk away from the desk to do something else. I also have a long break every 4 pomodoros I do of 15 minutes. Today, I have performed 12 pomodoros, which equates to 6 hours of real, focused work. I don’t check email, I don’t do Twitter, Facebook, and I even am a little short with anyone who is walking up to me (sorry, honey!) when I am on a work interval.

The breaks do add up though, and it makes my time calculations a little bit weird. 12 pomodoros have 9 short breaks, and 3 long breaks in them. This means that I have an extra hour and a half that I’m on a break, doing something else which is not related to the work. That means that those 6 hours of focused work add another hour and a half of scheduled breaks, which I really believe make the focused work better.

If I add those to my “real” breaks that I took in the day, that comes to nine hours. I don’t really know where the remaining hour and a half disappeared to. I am guessing that I was a little lax in getting back to the desk right away on some of the rest breaks and took a few minutes here and there, or maybe my lunch was really an hour and not just half an hour.

It’s really teaching me that getting real work into the project is difficult. I’ve decided that I am going to count my scheduled break time as 2/3 of normal time on the days when I do enough to make a long break, which will make today count for 7 towards my 12 hours a week goal, but keep my 1 hour thesis days at a real, solid hour because I won’t count any of the break in the middle, which I often take my daily run between, making that one much longer than the five minutes.

There’s still nothing more frustrated than looking at my pomodoro count at 12 and the clock at 21:00 though. It’s like I feel that I could actually finish at 16 for the day, but I would have very little time to myself. Maybe I’ll try to get started earlier next week, and the wallclock time won’t get on my goat as much. In the meantime, you can watch my progress towards the 12/week goal on my beeminder graph.