Allocating time to People, Strategy, Tactics and Everything Else. How to be effective with your time and stay productive.
When I (Joe Peacock) was a Vice President of Engineering at ACV Auctions, the role required managing many global teams and projects while ensuring timely delivery of high-quality software products. With the stress and responsibility of scaling the company through multiple fundraising rounds, navigating COVID, taking the company public on NASDAQ in 2021, and simply managing day to day issues, your workload can easily become overwhelming. Allocating your time effectively becomes essential to ensure that you remain productive, focused, and achieve your goals. In this post, we will explore a simple guide for managing your time as a VP of Engineering at a fast-paced growth company.
My time allocation guide is as follows: People (30%), Tactics (30%), Strategy (30%), and an Everything Else buffer. This ensures that you are spending at least this much time in each of the areas. At certain times of the year you will find yourself leaning heavily into one of these areas around planning or big deliverables.
This is where you are spending time in 1:1s, investing in coaching, hiring, management, building relationships, networking, engaging with external organizations, etc.
At 30% of your time this is 12+ hours/week. Depending on your team size you can easily be over subscribed here. If you're spending too much time here there's an opportunity to look at your Span of control.
This is the time you spend defining quarterly and annual goals, analyzing market trends, researching shifts in the organization, learning new practices/delivery frameworks, measuring, analyzing budgets and resource allocation, etc.
This is typically loaded into dedicated weeks throughout the year. Where in a single week you might spend 40+ hours. Throughout a quarter you might only spend a few hours a week or bi-weekly keeping up to date or doing mid-point checkins. Overall at 30% you are spending ~3.5 weeks/quarter on this.
Finally our tactics include operating the organization: operating meetings, report reading/analysis, unblocking teams, solving day-day problems, communicating with partner teams, emails, supporting other organizations, dealing with production issues, implementing processes, coaching, leading etc.
At 30% again we allocate 12+ hours/week. More often than not you spend the majority of your time getting bogged down with day-to-day tasks here.
Fill in the buffer time, or time can be allocated more heavily in a particular area. If you find yourself leaning into one of these areas too deeply or if a particular area is not getting the love then adjust. It's critical to keep your mindset in each of these areas, otherwise you will be missing key it
Lastly, I always recommend getting a standard set of meetings/or rhythms in place with clear outcomes to satisfy your goals. An example set of practices, meetings, or reports for each time category might look like:
People: Weekly 1:1s w/ direct reports and key stakeholders, a bi-weekly team meeting, networking monthly, and monthly 1:1s with peripheral organization/stakeholders.
Strategy: Bi-weekly strategy meeting with all leads, monthly review of budget and resource allocation, bi-weekly with recruiting, quarterly planning, quarter business review, and quarterly team demos.
Tactics: Bi-weekly operating meeting on all delivery metrics, bi-weekly/cross-team sprint planning sit-ins, working 1:1 with struggling teams to implement new processes, celebrating successful launches and teams bi-weekly/monthly.
If you found this information helpful and would like to learn more about topics like this please reach out to email@example.com. We work with CTO's, VPs, and all engineering leads to increase their impact and value creation.