As developers, we are always working towards a deadline. It doesn’t matter if you are working for a Fortune 500 enterprise or as a part-time freelancer, the expectations are the same. Customers put a high value on us meeting our commitments. Today, I am going to discuss time management strategies that have helped me maximize this valuable commodity.
When asked, the majority of developers will say the work better being left alone. They may even admit to being night owls and prefer working at night. It’s not a secret that many IT people are introverts. However, the truth is none of us are islands. Sooner or later, we need to interact with others, especially when we need help. As a result, it is better when we stick to regular business hours to better engage with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers.
So if you do have an established schedule, consider the following. Optimal productivity times will vary from person to person. For some, the best time to get work done is right after morning coffee. For others, mid-morning is better. In some cases, developers may prefer certain days of the week based on personal obligations. It can depend on many things.
For this reason, I recommend the use of a tool called Qbserve (offers a 15-day free trial). Any time tracker might work, but the idea is to use it for a week or two. When you see the reports, you most likely will discover a trend about your work habits.
As an example, I realized I worked great on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I also did much better in the afternoon hours, after lunch. As a result of learning this, I began to set aside the most complicated challenges of my projects for those days and times where I focus best. This is all part of time management by getting in touch with your strengths and weaknesses.
Learn to Thrive
Working in front of a computer where the whole world is at our reach is a huge advantage for problem-solving. However, for those that fight against procrastination, this level of access comes with a downside. When we are trying to be productive, email, texts, and social media can be major distractors. People are expecting the best from us, and this means we need to concentrate on delivering the best solutions possible.
In order to give your customers (internal and external) the best, learning how to stop digital pressure is a required skill. Educate yourself on methods for completing a single task well. Forget about trying to multitask. To increase your value, take the time to do one thing to the very best of your ability.
Try using a simple system, like the Pomodoro Technique. This guide is a time management guide for breaking down jobs into short work internals. The idea is to stay your sharpest by allowing your self-recovery time. Work for 25 minutes in a very intense way, but then take a break. The creator suggests that this method reduces boredom and helps keep productivity levels more consistent. It also offers these short breaks to pick off more mundane work. Answers your slack messages and work emails without interrupting your peak concentration time.
Developers are typically excellent problem solvers. While this is true, we also must admit we are notorious for underestimating work. As such, it would be a benefit to balance our technical skills with the ones valued by others. One such ability linked to time management includes forecasting. One such ability includes forecasting. Accurate forecasting is the foundation for being able to plan ahead.
Technical challenges we first glanced at were believed to be straightforward. However, underestimating issues can easily lead to more complex problems. We can get bogged down into connected challenges. Quickly, it becomes clear that we may miss a milestone date.
Avoid the stress the comes along with this type of scenario by planning for the unexpected, and a little bit of planning goes a long way. One tactic is to break down your tasks in manageable segments. Let the individual tasks you identify easy to define, establish assumptions, dependencies, and priorities between them. If you do this ahead of giving your estimate, it will help gauge a more realistic level of effort. It will also allow you to react to any problem quicker than without thinking ahead.
Many of us dislike meetings. We share the sense most meetings could be replaced by a simple email. Alas, meetings are here to stay. So how do we make the best of them?
For me, meetings are best when people need to agree on something important. So when it’s time to have one, use some best practices to make them more productive. Here are the top two.
First, always have a meeting agenda sent to everyone before it starts. If everyone knows in advance what the goal is, the better chance for a faster conclusion. Secondly, enforce starting and ending on time. Eliminate the opportunity to extend the meeting time easily. Force participants to be concise with there questions and answers.
No More Excuses
To my fellow developers, I feel your pain. We all know what it is like to run out of time. The fact is time is a unique resource that cannot be saved nor made. So here, I have shared many things you can do and tools to use to manage your time effectively. Embrace your new knowledge about time management and supercharge your career!
Speaking of time, if you want to see how to control it inside your code, take a look at how to Code dates and time like a Pro.