Summer is Here, Let the WP-arty Start!

Working in the web industry (particularly as a developer) will have you toiling for months-on-end at your desk, often in an isolated environment, drinking buckets of coffee and listening to Janice complain about how she can’t use a Mac.

Whilst a bit of seclusion from the outside world is sometimes good for getting stuff done, it’s not so good for keeping those all-important social skills sharpened and, of course, there’s the sun tan.

Fortunately for us, we work in an industry that has become less and less reliant on silly things like offices, infrastructure, 40-hour weeks and, of course, those ‘toxic’ meetings.

Thanks to ‘agile‘, many professionals in our industry are enjoying a truly lifestyle-based working week and many employers have seen the light. Companies like Automattic are leading the way, not only making sure they treat their employees like people, but providing complete flexibility and support. This enables their ‘Automatticians’ to combine work with a bit of play.

So, what is ‘agile’ and how can I get some?

Well, technically it’s a very popular and effective approach to project management which is specifically relevant to software delivery. But it can be translated to pretty much anything you have to do in your life. For us, it means working when we like, where we like.

You might think this seems unrealistic or perhaps a bit of a ‘kop out’? Well it isn’t. When you work agile and your business is setup in the same way, there’s no reason your work life and your personal life can’t run harmoniously in parallel.

This means you can do stuff like go and work in the park on a sunny day, spend a morning play fighting with your son or have a caramel iced cooler with the wife. All good things 🙂

Of course, you can’t just sack it off all week to watch Judge Rinder, there are a few rules

  • Plan your week! – Spend an hour on Monday morning listing your tasks. Break large tasks up into small chunks.
  • Timebox – Give each task a time limit. Be realistic, the point of all this is to produce results in a manner that doesn’t have you tearing your hair out.
  • Don’t book more than 4 hours per day – Sounds crazy, right? You need to make sure you have enough breathing room to deal with things that pop up during the day. You will always end up working more than 4 hours, but this is just a way of protecting you.
  • Prioritise  – Get the most important stuff done first.
  • JFDI – Get on with it! It won’t finish itself.
  • Don’t overcook things – If you find something is taking longer than you thought, put it down. Move onto something else and come back to it later.
  • Keep track – Use something like Basecamp to monitor your progress and your time. Regular updates and tracking time means you are supporting your future self and anyone you may be collaborating with.
  • And finally … go out! – More of a guideline than a rule, but peel yourself from your office chair and get outta there! There are thousands of places near you where you can sit down and enjoy free WiFi, a nice drink and maybe even a chat.

The beauty of this is that it applies to anyone. Whether you work as a team, on your own, as a freelancer or in employment, the benefits of adopting an agile approach to your work are there for all to see.

So, I think I’ll close the MacBook and soak up some sun for an hour, why don’t you give it a go?