Yes… I am a web developer and have been for over 10 years! I can’t even remember what else I have done since I became one!
I feel that during these years, I have noticed a ton of different things to navigate around different companies and each one I have been to taught me a great deal to better myself. I won’t go through which companies I was employed in but I will mention a few points of what I gained.
I was a very last minute person to submit any deadline. This was during my college and university days where I just kept thinking I can finish a lot more things in one day… But it never does…
As I started finding jobs, I noticed that this is not the ideal way and need to change the way I plan things out. The jobs required me to define my own deadlines which I found difficult. I gave unrealistic deadlines and often pushed too hard to keep to them but never think of the possible roadblocks.
What really helped me was when a manager or a client asks “how long will this take?”, its important that if you don’t know the answer, buy yourself some time. It doesn’t help anyone to give an estimate that is unrealistic… There does come a time where a person will need a rough estimate, in which case, you got to use words along the lines of:
“I would need to make sure there would be a few roadblocks but assuming there won’t be, it could take up to x hours. Allow me to do some research though to make sure and I will get back to you.”
Saying something like this opens wiggle room for you to find out more. Also, when you mention the estimated x hours, its always good to double the time for yourself.
I also recommend that you draw out a diagram and write up user stories to make sure everything is considered. Its always imporant to make sure that you understand the requirement full picture before predicting anything…
Schedule your time
This one is super important to me!
Every morning before I start my day, the first thing I open is my email inbox. I run through my list of emails like as though they are tasks. It also allows me time to reply to the urgent ones that people require responding.
Most of the times, they are urgent and needs to be looked into immediately.
This is where my calendar comes in…
With the areas I need to look into immediately, I plant them on my calendar as my first task to be done. Depending on the priority, I order them by which one can be fixed the quickest. I also estimate how long each one will take and plant 1 hour tasks through out the day. The biggest challenge is knowing when to jump out of a task when “time is up!” It is vital to stick to the schedule so that all tasks have been visited with the fair amount of time you have given to that task.
I also colour code my blocks that I schedule. I use Google Calendar so I can’t say if this can apply to you. So if I have a meeting, I set this to red to show urgency, blue as tasks need to be done and finally, yellow as scheduled tasks to be done (e.g. Push builds to Production).
Communication is key
This one seems like an obvious one but this one came with practice as the years went by…
I found that after finishing any given task, or even if I am in progress of doing one, it is vital to give updates. Whether it be a client or an internal colleague you work with, it is never good to leave that person hanging…
I always picture the person in a crowded town trying to find an update. This would literally be impossible for them to know unless someone actually gives them an update; the longer you leave them in this crowd, the more frustrated they will get.
I have come to learn that when an email comes in, its always good to answer them within the day so that they know you acknowledged the email. If you have a lot of things to do, check your calendar and lock in a time where you know you will look into the issue for them. When a time is locked in, I always tell them something like “I have scheduled this at 3pm tomorrow to take a look into this. If this is urgent, please let me know and I will schedule this sooner”. This gives the client/colleague some comfort that you take their requests realistically and knows that your time is valueable.
These are my top 3 things I have discovered working as a web developer across 5 different businesses. I know that the mentioned content above does not address any code topics. I just wanted to outline how I handle the admin side of things and keeping organized about it.
Having a look at this, I feel like I have improved and I always underestimated how to be organized. I am still finding new ways to improve myself and I always ask people how they deal with work. I love knowing how people keep productive in their day to day work.
For now though, I think what I have set up for myself works and has not broke for the past 5 years. I’ll continue with it until I find a new routine…