Time windows

in remote work to reduce interruptions

While working as a designer, I do some design calculations each day. These calculations need to be checked which would only take some fifteen minutes. The managers' input is required at various steps of the design.

One challenging task for me was to find a suitable time for a conversation with my manager. In between the conversation, there are interruptions like the site calls, people with urgent doubts about their projects etc. Due to this, the initial fifteen minutes will become one hour.

Instead, we could ask for a mutually agreed small-time period regularly.

What are Time Windows?

The times during which you can expect an immediate response for emails, code reviews, triage discussions and instant com channels. These are to be agreed upon by the team.

For example,

  1. 9:30 to 10:00 AM

  2. 1:30 to 2:30 PM

  3. 5:30 to 6:00 PM

How to implement?

First, start with the timing at which the team meetings or discussions happen. For example, if the team code review happens an hour after lunch then the first time window would be 3:00 to 3:30 PM. Introduce additional time windows incrementally.

The maximum number of time windows are 4 in a day. Depending on the amount of concentration required for a task adjust time windows. The duration of the time window depends on the type of communication. Generally, Code reviews last longer while the email takes less time.

The number of time windows does not need to be the same every day in a week, can be curtailed. It is preferable not to change the timing of the window.

Time windows do not replace scheduled weekly meetings or discussions about unexpected downtimes.

Practical steps

In direct messaging apps, the status message can be used to inform your time windows

For example, on Skype available timing and time zone.

Times during which you are available. And the time zone.