So this isn’t a technical post, but still applies to developers. I have had trouble managing my time and the amount of work coming in. I’m sure most people that work at a desk run into this every now and then.
Here’s four things I try to do that help:
- I try to keep my inbox empty. See http://inboxzero.com/.
- I try not to check my email all the time. This is hard for me.
- I try to make a note of anything that’s nagging at the back of my mind while I’m trying to focus.
- I drink better coffee now that I’m much better at making it.
They don’t make things perfect, but at least I feel like I’m in control now.
I lose a lot of time to things like emails coming in, IM conversations. Just one email or IM discussion can easily eat an hour. I really try to be as helpful as I can, but sometimes I don’t have time left at the end of the day.
I’ve been pretty good about implementing Inbox Zero. I rarely have any emails left in my inbox by the end of the day and I have filters for mailing lists and CC’s. However I’d like to start processing my email in batches, so I don’t have to deal with it first thing in the day. The problem is that as soon as Outlook opens and I glance at that number, I feel compelled to take a few minutes and at least sort them. And then if there’s just one that doesn’t make sense or asks me to do something I can’t get done, it nags at me the rest of the day.
Another thing that’s helping a lot is just writing down anything I can’t get to right at the moment. Sometimes I’ll be debugging some problem and I’ll notice code that could be improved, or I get an idea that would make error logging easier, or whatever. Rather than trying to make the change right away and get sidetracked, I used to try to remember that until I got done. The problem was that I would either forget about it or I’d keep thinking about it when I needed to focus on other things.
Now I just create a one line note in Evernote. I can move it and tag it later when I have time. Or sometimes I’ll just delete it outright because it doesn’t seem like such a hot idea anymore.