Time Management for Web Developers: Balancing Coding, Design, and Maintenance


  Time Management for Web Developers: Balancing Coding, Design, and Maintenance

Is this you?

Working from 9-5, only coding?
Focusing on one area of the web development process? 
Not creating maintainable sites or codebases.
Feeling drained or burnt out by the end of the day.

You’re not alone. Most web developers are balancing multiple tasks and responsibilities in order to complete their work. There is a delicate balance between coding, design and maintenance work that can be difficult to maintain without proper time management techniques.

I’m going to share a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years to balance all three of these tasks.

Project Management or Task Management Software?
How do you plan out your day? Are you using a project management software like Basecamp, Asana, Teamwork, Trello or Pivotaltracker? If so, continue reading tips 1-4. If not, skip to tip 5!
Ticktock has an interesting write up on how they use Basecamp in conjunction with Google Calendar to plan out their days. I use Trello as my task management tool of choice (I used Basecamp when it was still called 37signals).

You can use Trello to create lists of tasks on a project that you have to complete. You can then add due dates to each task. I use the calendar integration with Gmail to mark down when I need to start working on certain tasks. Every time I create a new card in one of my lists, I make sure that it is added to the list appropriately and have it go out of the 'to do' list into the 'in progress' or 'completed' list when appropriate.
To plan out your day, you’ll need to determine what is required for each task, how much time they’ll take and whether they need done before or after other tasks.

Tip 1:
Scheduling your work will give you more freedom in the long run. If you know exactly how much time you’ll have to complete tasks throughout the day, you’ll have a better idea of what can be completed and what needs to be pushed off until another day.
Realistically, some stuff will come up that takes priority over other tasks! But at least using a task management system like Trello will give you some insight into how much time is available each day to accomplish your work.
If you want to work on a pet project for yourself, you can use Trello to plan out your time and determine how much work you can put into it without rushing or pushing other tasks off.

Tip 2:
Break up large tasks into multiple lists.
When I started using Trello, I had a 'To Do' list where all of my tasks were listed in one big long list. Over time, I realized that I was spending more time planning out each task instead of doing them! I began to split up each task into multiple lists like 'To Do', 'In Progress', and 'Done'. This helped me break down the steps for each task and focus on accomplishing each step one by one.
When you have a task that might take you 6-8 hours, breaking is down into multiple lists will allow you to see progress made each day on the task.
Tip 3:
Look for patterns when creating your tasks. What are some of the most common types of tasks that you complete? Some examples might be creating a new blog post, sending out weekly project updates or testing code that you’ve written.
Creating tasks for each of these related activities will help make sure that you are focusing on completing them in a timely manner. If you know that you are going to be writing 10 blog posts this month, create a list for each article with an appropriate deadline.
If you are working on a large project, such as an application, creating a list for each step in the development process will help keep track of the progress that is being made and not overburden yourself with planning out every task.
Tip 4:
Keep in mind time zones and holidays!
Keeping time zones in mind when creating your tasks is important. For example, in the US most people work 9-5 during typical business hours. This means projects will be completed after 5pm which can be very time consuming.
In a foreign country, time zones might be very different. This can cause a lot of issues for people working on projects that require constant coordination with their team members in the US and other countries.
Ticktock recommends creating tasks based on your local time instead of the standard business hours of 9-5 during typical business hours.
Even though many people work from home during the day, most sites will still want to have completed work done by the end of the day as it's common practice to push back due dates if needed. "Jobs that are critical to the business can be done at 9pm if the team is ready." - Ticktock
Create a schedule that works for both your work hours and the deadlines that your company has set. Work around holidays so you don't miss deadlines.
Tip 5:
Schedule your tasks to fit in with your daily habits and routine.  This is important since everything else will be a distraction!  For example, if you usually work from home, creating a list of tasks would be very easy and convenient!  You can also try to fit in review time into each day as well. Reviewing code or tasks before checking them in will ensure that they are working properly.
This is something that I have found very useful since I work from home. Since most of the time that I'm at home is during the day, it's easy to check in with my phone or computer as needed.  I create tasks for projects, errands and other tasks to be completed each day.
Here are some examples of how I would schedule my tasks:
Tip 6:
Try Not To Overwhelm Yourself!
When you are creating your lists, try not to overthink things. Just remember that you are going to be limited with time so make sure that each task has its purpose in mind.

I personally use Trello and have found it to be very effective in my project management.  It has a lot of useful integrations for any project management task and is one of the easiest task management tools to use.  I've found it helpful in managing my time, keeping track of what I've worked on, how long things are taking and how well they are progressing.
If you are looking at using a task management system, I would definitely recommend giving Trello a try!
This post comes from James Hawkins over at Intuitive Software Solutions who teaches others about Agile Development Methodology. His blog delivers valuable insights to help others improve their software development skills.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post