I just finished an insane release where we worked crazy hours for the span of about 6 months. I had a good idea to improve the productivity of creating hundreds of diverse web form UI screens, and my team was given the challenge of implementing it in less than 6 months. It became my sole focus at work, and sucked up pretty much all of my free non-family time; time I typically spend reading, writing, and growing in my profession and health.
So now I have an opportunity to refocus. To retrieve that time and to use it wisely.
Here's my plan:
Write every day.
I don't mean blog posts. Just write. I have a lot of things to say, but I don't write it down because it takes time to organize my thoughts. I want to say things that are easy to understand and relevant. Problem is this takes time for me. Time is precious with a demanding job and a large family. So my new strategy is this: Just pour out 1000 words a day. It doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to be great. It just has to be 1000. My theory is that over time organizing and writing coherent things will get easier. I've heard that you need 10,000 hours of doing something to become proficient at it. I think this is also true for writing.
Return to what I want to stake my career on
The craziness of this last software release got me away from the things I that I want to focus on, that I know will have a beneficial long term benefit to my company and my career.
- TDD - It works. I feel good about my code output when I use it. I want to pass it on to my teams.
- Mentoring - Its the only way I know to change the culture around here. We have young talented developers entering this company that are learning from the anti-patterns common in our legacy apps. This is bad for the company and bad for them.
- Innovation - Innovation requires time to think, and time to try stuff. If you are always swallowed up in "emergencies", then it won't happen.
Exercise is another thing I cut out during this run. This is not just for my health. I do my best thinking and have my best ideas while I'm exercising. I must be the extra oxygen flowing through my head. If I'm really going to write each night, this should go hand in hand.
Stay up to Date
Reading and trying new technologies give me inspiration. This inspiration feeds back into my day job big time. Learning what technologies and patterns working for others in the industry helps me to make decisions for my own projects, and its just plain fun to geek out on. It feeds back into how I do my job and what I write about.
So that's my goal: Every day spend some time writing, reading, and exercising essentially. The key will be balancing my time, not only between work and life, but also between urgent daily job stuff and forward thinking. I need to do this, not only for my career, but also for my sanity!!!