How to handle a job that only requires a fraction of a developer's full-time effort
I've been working at a job where I've been tasked with doing a week's worth of work in 6 hours, every week, on average. That's a 15-minute "task" consisting of several different steps, all of which require less than an hour's effort on a good day.
I usually have enough free time to do that in a single afternoon; but it's like pulling teeth to get done more than two or three in a row.
I was assigned to do some other work, while I was already doing a task in an effort to give me something to do, and that work is comparable to the requirements of the task I'm doing, except in time, not complexity.
What's a reasonable approach in a situation like this where I feel like I'm slacking off on other work in order to handle the task?
Do I tell my manager I don't have enough time to do both, and risk him either (a) assigning me to do the other work, which may suck out of my life for that week; or (b) telling me to continue working on the task for "good work" which is essentially nothing to me?
Tell your manager that you need to have at least one day free every week. The odds are that they will go away or you will get an extra day in the middle of the week. Also make it clear that you would still take on the task if you didn't have free time. I suspect that your manager will want to keep you happy.
Tell your manager. If he assigns you other work, you can always say that you don't think you can deliver it in time.
Just be sure to communicate it properly - the work should be rather a large task with multiple sub-tasks that have dependency on one another.
If you can't or don't want to estimate it, just go ask someone who has worked on it for a while. If they can't estimate it (or think it's not worth it in the end), just tell your manager and he'll probably understand.
Tell your manager that you don't have enough time to do both, and risk him either (a) assigning you to do the other work, which may suck out of my 0b46394aab