As many of you know, I like to stay busy. At any given time I have about two or three software projects going at the same time. Currently, I have 4 projects going right now. These projects include 2 mobile apps and 2 web-based projects. In addition to all of that, I work full time and attend college at night. However, I love being busy with my software projects because it helps me learn new skills and helps me get new client work. With that being said, I still find room in my day to taking care of myself, spend time with my family and to enjoy a good show on Netflix. To achieve a decent work-life balance, I had to develop a system in order to manage my time better in order to make room for my projects. The result is a four-step plan that anyone can follow in order to improve your efficiency.
Step 1: Get Non-project Work Done Early In The Week
The first step of my plan is to get non-project related work done early in the week. This may seem like a hard task to accomplish but once you do it a couple of times, its pretty simple to do. In order to have success in this area, you need to sort your tasks out into project work and not project work. For example, in a given week you have to write a paper for an English class and write a bug fix for your latest iPhone app. I recommend getting the paper done first because it allows you to get it done and over with, leaving you with less non-project work to deal with overtime. Plus, getting these tasks done early will allow time for research on topics that relate to fixing problems.
Step 2: Use a Task Manager Application:
I recommend using a task manager application to help you plan out your week. I recommend the app call MeisterTask. This a free app that allows you to create boards for every project your working on. Using theses boards you can plan your week and determine what boards you want to tackle. Keep in mind you might not get to everything on your boards, but its a nice way to keep all of your ideas and thoughts about a task in one place. For example, I have a board for all 4 of my software projects, 2 dedicated boards for my college classes and one final board dedicated to blog post ideas. When I start my week, I plan to start working on the tasks in my college boards. By the middle of the week, I jump between various tasks on my software project boards. By the end of the week I’m already planning my new blog post. As you can see this step is very agile.
Step 3: Set Deadlines:
Don’t be afraid of setting deadlines. In my opinion setting deadlines means your making progress in your work. Just make sure your deadlines are realistic. Also be prepared to change your deadline if something unexpected happens. For example, I have a deadline to make sure I write a blog post by Sunday so I can have it ready to post by Monday morning. However if something unexpected happens I can always post a blog post another day.
Step 4: Be Prepared For the Unexpected:
Always be prepared for the unexpected. You cannot plan for everything. Use steps 1-3 as a guide to help you stay more productive. Your tasks can always be shifted in order to handle the unexpected. If one of the steps seems to not be working for you, simply replace it with something that works for you.