May 24, 2013

Organizing your project life, surviving projects...

This is a short and unsorted collection of personal wisdoms that may help you improving your day and life as a software developer, freelancer, project manager or whatever.

You first, projects second

The first think that counts is you . You and your personal health should have the highest priority. Don't ruin yourself for whatever reason. Your health is your capital.

Don't be reachable at any time

Whatever position you have in a project: you don't have to be reachable at any time for any person. Give your working day a structure. Consider fixed working hours that you do not exceed.

Avoid overtime

Overtime is a bad thing. Yes, things must be done at some point but constant overtime is bad for your health and mood - unless you are a coding maniac.

Don't be a slave of your email client

Reduce to poll time of your email client to one hour or so - being interrupted while programming is a bad thing.

Delay email replies

There are email client add-ons like SendItlater that allow you to answer to an email directly but defer the delivery to a some time in the future. This may slow down email ping-pong between and your customers significantly.

Have separate email clients

For some projects (with lots of email during the day and night) I use a dedicated email client that I can close at any time. I use my standard email client to keep track of my private email and other project email (where I know that there will be only a few mails per day without a big risk of trouble)

Do not respond to all email the same day

If there is some email coming in the late afternoon and you can already smell the trouble by reading the sender or the subject: keep it closed and read it the other day. Do not ruin your last working hour and the rest of the day with trouble emails.

Smell the stress

It takes some experiences to notice when the project stress turns against you. Stress can have various symptoms and they are very individual. Personally I notice upcoming stress situation through problems with my stomach.

Get out of the stress

This is often easier said than doable in reality. But if often helps taking a break for an hour or two and doing sports. First it reduces my aggression level and gives me a more clear thought on some pending problems. Or if you can: take a day off and do something completely different.

Know your limits

Know yourself! You have to know where your personal limits are and how far you can go. While we are all getting older we have to recognize that we can not handle a workload as when we were ten years younger. It does not mean that we are less efficient and effective but we deal with workloads in a different way.

It is you that counts, it is your health that counts. So in order to avoid a burnout: you first, projects and customers second....