Posted on January 4, 2011
Many developers these days are asked, feel they need to or told they have to work ridonkulous (thanks Nat, I love this word!) hours. Most of the time, this is because the company must pull together at times of need, or your start up company is getting off the ground and you can’t afford a full team of people yet. In fact most of the time, you actually want to really pull out all the stops and deliver your project. This is not a bad thing and hard work is very character building, but the problem comes sooner or later where you just burn out…. This can result in a few things, for me this year, I have come down with the nasty flu twice in the space of just over a year! The problem is actually not the amount of work I’m currently doing, the culprit is stress from previous jobs and lack of proper holiday time from the last 2 years. So of course when I needed a really good working week with no distractions, I was on my sofa under my duvet with a ridonkulous fever! Crisis!!! Well actually not as luckily I had down most of the groundwork already so I just needed to actually build the thing, but wow just the wrong time. Plus coming down with Flu over Xmas sucks!
I place the blame firmly on myself of course, I have not rested sufficiently this year at all. This has made me less than the 2000% I desire to be. I have not taken time out, or slept enough hours a lot of the time to really give my body what it needs and therefore, running on fumes. Thanks to my Flu, I’ve had quite a lot of rest now but the lack caused my immune system to fail and take time off what I really wanted to be doing – developing a new feature, spending quality time with family over Christmas, not being available to do work on New Year’s Eve on account of being well enough to go out!!!!! (That bit’s actually a lie, I’m really glad it’s done and ready but that’s totally not the point 😀 )
So the question really is: how do we make sure we are getting enough rest in an environment and industry that will forever demand more?
1. Adopt an appropriate methodology in your workplace
Agile methodologies can seem like they have no place in a company that wishes to get things done as quickly as possible, but this is a very narrow view in my opinion. The whole point of Agile has a big clue in the name – Agile. Agility is the key here. What can seem a pointless interruption to the working day such as a daily Scrum meeting, does have an important place. It enables communication between the team meaning that no developer, project manager, team leader etc is alone in any one project. This enables the sharing of knowledge which means, a developer can go on holiday and the knowledge base does not go to the caravan in Bognor with the developer!
2. Keep up to date documentation
Documentation can be really important within a company, even if it’s literally just keeping your phpdoc blocks up to date and indeed present! This means that another developer can grasp a good understanding without having to ring you up when you’re having fun dancing the night away on some tropical island!
3. Make the most of your time off
When you take some time off, make sure that you spend it actually relaxing. It’s very commendable to keep up to date with what’s happening at work in case of emergencies, but make sure you take yourself out of the workplace in your head and remove the focus so your mind can really relax. It’s so important to rest your brain as well as your body, especially when some projects require a real grasp of logic and thinking in order to finish them with excellence rather than average bogstandardness.
So in conclusion, the way to keep excellence an achievable goal in your team/company/office – sufficient rest and recuperation must be a priority as well as all the hard work that goes into simple, elegant, innovative, efficient and scalable solutions that we developers can be proud of.