A Guide for WordPress Developers: How to Manage Time Effectively
Do you sometimes feel like 24 hours are too short for a day?
If you nod your head to the question above, I’m glad (well, not so glad) to say we are in the same boat! The bad news is, the case may be worse if you are a WordPress developer. I have quite many friends and colleagues who do WordPress developing and they constantly complain that there should be more than 24 hours a day to complete their daily work. Moreover, no matter how many time management classes or courses they take, things just don’t work out. Does the same thing happen to you?
Don’t you wonder why?
Easy, because the knowledge we are equipped within these classes doesn’t match with reality. As I have researched and figured out, those courses only teach us to manage the ‘clock time’ but neglect the ‘real time’. Then, what is the difference?
Well, whether you’re using digital or analog watches, ‘clock time’ has 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day, no more or less. Meanwhile, with ‘real time’, time is relative just like Einstein said. It depends on what you do, for example, 1 hour in a boring class feels like an eternity, but the same amount of time spent with your loved ones may feel like minutes. In the end of the day, it all comes down to how you utilize the concept of ‘real time’ to expand the ‘clock time’ and achieve more.
If you’re wondering how I’m here to give you answers via my article “A Guide for WordPress Developers: How to Manage Time Effectively”.
Here is a quick look at what you should do:
- Build a Set of Goals
- Have a To-do List
- Set Your Priorities
- Identify and Avoid Distractions
- Break up Your Work into Small Tasks
- Prepare for Emergencies
- Get Help from Time Managing Apps
- Check up on Your Achievement Regularly
- Have Plans for Relaxation
- Don’t forget the Healthy Lifestyle!
Successfully implemented by the WordPress developers I know, these tips will show you how it’s all about working smarter and not harder!
1. Build a Set of Goals
Now, first of all, sit yourself down with a notebook and jot down what you want to do with your career, both in the long term and short term. Answer questions like: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, 10 years or even 20 years from now? By setting goals, you can make them happen more easily without wandering around and getting lost. Here is an example of short-term goals for a WordPress developer:
- Have 10 plugins listed the WordPress.org plugin directory in 2017;
- Submit 4 WordPress themes to Theme Forest and get approved in 2017;
- Deliver a speech at WordCamp 2018;
- Become well-known WordPress developer on Theme Forest by the end of 2019;
That’s it! You have to make sure what you want in your career, so we can concentrate on how to make it happen without wasting too much time.
2. Have a To-do List
This may not be the first time you see this tip. Yes, people talk about it all the time, but why is that? Because it actually works! Now, I will go into details of the kinds of to-do lists I highly recommend:
- To begin with, you should have a To-do list for the whole week. It can act as a guiding light leading you through the huge loads of work a WordPress developer has to do. Write down what you will complete on Monday, and then Thursday, etc.
- However, if you do not fancy the idea of planning the whole week in advance, you should, at least, have a daily To-do list. Spending 15 minutes a day to plan your day will be worth it.
What else is good about To-do lists? Well, they will let you see the actual amount of work you’re able to handle so that you can be a better planner. Last but not least, keep in mind that a good To-do list is one that is short and concentrates on the main tasks only. A long one will look frustrating and weaken your will, which is counterproductive to your work.
3. Set Your Priorities
Stick to Drucker Dictum’s statement: “Doing things right is not as important as doing the right things”. Especially, for WordPress developers, it is totally a big “No!” if you do things that produce insufficient value for yourself or your customers. That is why you should have priorities. You can do it right in the daily To-do list by ranking the top 3 things that need prioritizing. After this “Top 3”, respectively rank your list items in the order you want. For example, an error of platform crashing should be dealt with first.
In case you’re working with customers or in a team with a project manager, you can do as follows:
- Ask them for their ideal task ordering and prioritization.
- If one of your tasks affects someone else’s work, it is advisable you complete it first.
- For tasks that are equal in terms of importance levels, you could start with the one you least want to work on first.
4. Identify and Avoid Distractions
If you are someone who can easily be distracted, pay close attention to this part. As you might already know, distractions come from various sources. For a WordPress developer, they are mainly the computer and cell phone, where you can get distracted by prank calls and notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels. So, the advice here is to be tough. Turn off your cell phone’s Wifi, close all irrelevant tabs on the computer and get your head in the game!
Another common distraction, I’d say, is time wasters. These people can be your friends, your colleagues, anyone who slows you down with frequent phone calls, SMS messages or emails. Because each interruption takes more time to recover. You should identify repeatable time wasters and kindly talk with them about the issue.
Don’t switch off your phone, though, it can lead to undesirable results, like, how can you explain if you miss 15 calls from your girlfriend.
Oops, not my fault!
5. Break Down Your Work into Small Tasks
I do understand that no one prefers doing hard tasks. But as a WordPress developer, your responsibility is required at the highest level. Therefore, instead of saying “Oh no, I won’t ever finish this!” and wasting your time complaining and hesitating, you can break it down into smaller parts and do each at a time. In this way, you can also keep track of the progress you’re making. For example, a very useful step is to add “how to test” notes to each task. This acts like a micro goal which helps in deciding your task completion.
Very soon, I promise, you will realize that you have done all the small steps, which means the whole task is solved!
6. Prepare for Emergencies
No matter how carefully you have planned the path, things could go wrong in just a blink of an eye. Being a WordPress developer, you have to face the fact that this happens quite frequently. For example, you’re handling this project and it is steadily coming to an end when all of a sudden, a piece stops working because of an unexpected bug. What to do then? Of course, you will have to troubleshoot it. Therefore, it is essential to leave some spare time in your daily plan. Don’t make your schedule too hectic for you to fix something when it goes wrong.
With the right planning, you will have just the right amount of pre-scheduled time to track down and eliminate every disturbing bug and still submit your item on time.
7. Get Help from Time Managing Apps
With the fast pace of developing seen in WordPress and its related services, you can now easily seek help in time management from modern apps and tools. Designed to help WordPress developers manage their time effectively. These apps provide you with such features as building To-do list, getting reminded, keeping track of your progress, etc. For those who are bad at planning and managing, these will offer great help since you cannot learn to become a master at time management anytime soon.
Based on my own experiences and pieces of advice from my fellow colleagues, I believe you should choose the one-time managing app out of the following: Evernote, OmniFocus or Remember The Milk.
8. Check up on Your Achievement Regularly
After each accomplishment, it will be wiser if you take a small break and review your work. Ask yourself questions like “Could I do it better?”, “Which part needs improving?”, “What could I have done to improve it?”, etc. When you find answers to these questions, you will understand more about your own progress of WordPress developing and how to make the most of the time you spend on each item. Analyzing your work doesn’t take much time since you have planned it all beforehand in your To-do List, but it offers great values to your future projects.
For example! You identify a problem with writing a particular expression and realize you had spent a little too much time on it than necessary. What can you do about it? Well, try doing some research and trials, so that you can take a different approach in the next project.
Then, your productivity will be increased with less time needed!
9. Have Plans for Relaxation
After each project, recharge yourself with good sleep, good food, and some entertainment. If you stretch yourself too hard and start working on another project right away, the result of that project will suffer hard. More importantly, the time spent on it will also be prolonged. Obviously, high productivity cannot be expected with a strained brain and tired muscles. Furthermore! Developers generally sit in front of a computer screen 8 hours a day or even more, which leads to diseases relating to emotions and physical well-being. For example, with the long hours of staring at the screen, your eyesight will be ruined gradually.
Rewarding yourself after finishing a project is not only advantageous to your future projects you will be doing, but also to your health.
10. Don’t Forget the Healthy Lifestyle!
After all, you must remember that your health is the most vital thing. Without health, you won’t be able to perform anything, let alone perform it well. Countless studies have proved the connection between health and productivity. Hence, if you are a devoted WordPress developer who is keen on maintaining your productivity and improve your time management skills, remember to:
- Learn to say no to those opportunities that exceed your limits and you don’t have time for because it will reduce the time needed for truly necessary tasks;
- Get enough sleep, exercises, and healthy food as these are all contributing factors to energy boost and greater ability to focus. You know, if you cannot focus, your time managing will suffer.
Being healthy WordPress developers, you will get everything in control.
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