Friday, March 19, 2010

Meetings and work

Irresective of whatever title(s) I may have, I'm a software engineer. For well over 30 years I've been cutting code; whether it's games (my very first program was battleships on a paper-tape machine) or transaction systems, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I also love learning new programming languages (something that strangely enough doesn't translate to human languages, where I'm not so strong.) I don't think I'm happier than when I'm coding.

Now over the years I've spent a lot of time in various meetings, including standards efforts, project planning, customer engagements, architecture discussions etc. Some of them are also implicit, e.g., Stuart and I would talk a lot, often while coding, because we shared an office for over a decade. But most of them are explicit and you don't get a chance to code at the same time (paying customers tend to want your full attention, for instance!) I've been at a project planning meeting today in Brussels and although I could code on the evenings while in the hotel, it's not a lot of time to spend.

In general the majority of my days revolve around talking and writing documents. Most days I'll spend in meetings, either physically in a room with others or on a phone with them. Time for coding is limited during the day, so again it tends to happen late evenings, very early in the morning, weekends and on holiday. At times I believe I need to do it to keep myself grounded (and sane). And it doesn't have to be work coding that lets me energize my batteries (I think all engineers have their pet projects!)

When I was coding full-time it was easy for me to look back and see what I'd been doing with my time. These days it's not quite so easy as there is often no concrete evidence of what's been done on a daily basis. Of course that's a very short sighted view and when I look across the months/years and see the results those meetings generated it's very different. But for an engineer who has been coding for 75% of his life, it's hard at times when I'm sat in yet another meeting with a terminal, emacs and a programming language calling to me from a few inches away. Yes, meetings are important for what I have to do today, but my heart will always be elsewhere. Now back to some coding!

No comments: