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How do senior FAANG engineers manage time?

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Senior Front-End Engineer [SDE 3] at Amazon6 months ago

I’ve been a senior FEE at Amazon for almost a year now, and I’m still figuring out time management.

Sometimes I get overly involved in others’ tasks, or have too many meetings, or get overwhelmed by all the new campaigns and estimation requests constantly coming through the door while we’re in the middle of meeting deadlines.

How do senior FAANG engineers balance their priorities without overworking or burning out?

P.S. it’d be amazing if Taro can get Steve Huynh (PE at Amazon) to talk about this topic in detail.

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 7
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    6 months ago

    I highly recommend the time management masterclass. And I actually talked to Steve Huynh about exactly this topic! Productivity tips from A Life Engineered. I'll ping Steve to see if he's interested in giving a talk :)

    A few random tips from me:

    • Start each day with a clear task. It's worth spending a few minutes at the end of each workday to write down your first task for the next day. Ideally something < 2 hours long that you are reasonably confident you can accomplish.
    • Reflect on where your time is going, and get feedback from others. We have our own ideas of how productive we've been, but your project lead or manager will provide a valuable perspective on how it lines up with team/company priorities.
    • If you have a hard time finding focus time at work, it's likely your colleagues are as well! Coordinate with them to setup pre-defined focus days that more people can follow, e.g. Wednesday is a "no-meeting" day at Meta.
  • 7
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    6 months ago

    I was a tech lead at Meta and Robinhood (a FAANG equivalent), and I rarely worked >40 hours weeks. Here's how I did it:

    1. Focus blocks - Both Meta and Robinhood had no-meeting Wednesdays. I would write 80% of my code on those days, often putting out a stack of 10+ diffs. Once you have a good flow state, your coding velocity is only really held back by how fast you can physically type. I go through my "code machine" tactics in depth here: [Masterclass] How To Write Better Code Faster As A Software Engineer
    2. Find a good manager and team - Work-life balance, especially at L5+ levels, is a team effort between you and your manager. There are a lot of organizations that equate high performance with raw number of hours worked (instead of impact): Avoid those like the plague. Use the advice here to find a good team: "How possible is it to spot red flags about toxic culture during the interview?"
    3. Ruthlessly prioritize - At Big Tech, you will have an astonishingly high amount of noise. Become extremely comfortable pushing back against and ignoring tasks. When it comes to impact, there is almost always a power law. There will be 1-3 big projects that generate 80%+ of the possible impact on your roadmap. Find those and focus on them. Pretend the others don't exist.
    4. Delegate, delegate, delegate - As a senior engineer, you absolutely have to work through others. You rise when others rise. This becomes even more painfully true as you progress to staff. At Meta, I had a small army of mentees (10+) who were constantly ready to take work off my plate (and I can claim a piece of their impact as I'm leading/teaching them). You can learn how I did that here: "How can I help juniors?"

    I recommend these other resources as well: