The deadline is coming! How do we make it?
Deadline, closure, wall, doomsday, critical line or simply deadline. This word chills the blood in the veins of many programmers. It’s a ghost that follows all developers. No one likes deadline, but everyone has to live with it. Especially freelancers. They often have to put the most work and effort to meet the deadline, because most often they are engaged not only in coding, but also in the organization of work, administrative matters, etc. How to make it when the deadline is coming?
Many programmers prefer not to talk about deadlines. It is enough that they have to live in the shadow of deadline.ZeroTurnaround, among other things, interviewed many coders about this circumstance. It turned out that 25% of them can not sleep peacefully at night because of the deadline.this is one of the strongest stress factors for developers, along with such issues as problems with application performance (causes insomnia in 24.10% of developers), fear that the written code is not good enough (23.70%) and the need to learn new things (23.50%). The pressure of the deadline often causes the code to be sent faster. The problem is that this does not necessarily have to be a positive aspect of time pressure. 81% of developers interviewed by GitLab admit that due to Deadline, they release code before it is actually fully ready. It is the pressure of the deadline that is indicated by 59% of programmers as the biggest obstacle to getting the job done well. The second factor is the pressure from the supervisor, although often the latter is due precisely to the upcoming deadline. there is also a problem with creativity, which, after all, often the developer has to prove himself. Research conducted at Harvard by Professor Teresa amabila showed that very strong time pressure has a destructive effect on creativity. However, it turned out that it is enough to alleviate this pressure a little, so that the spectre of the upcoming deadline becomes a stimulus for action with good results. The problem, however, is that time pressure must not be overcome. It is the programmer who must tame deadline, especially when working as a freelancer. How? We have a few tips for you.
When at the beginning of the project you look at the list of tasks, you can feel weak. Usually there are very many points to perform, and the worst that all seem equally important. This approach is the first step towards not being able to complete the project on time. It becomes necessary to prioritise tasks. You need to think about which tasks are most important for a given project, and which are not of great importance. It is worth distinguishing what is important from what is urgent. The latter need not be at all relevant to the implementation of the whole project. To begin with, it is best to choose the task with the highest priority, and then think about what else you can choose for this, which is also important. Following this lead with the next tasks, you will put together a list-a signpost that should lead you to the deadline without much trouble. In addition, it is worth every day to set a to-do list. If possible, you should also not leave the most difficult and most hated tasks to the last minute. The sooner you tackle them, the greater the chance that any delays associated with them will not affect the final deadline of the entire project.
Also, don’t forget the Pareto principle, which says that when you rank all tasks according to their values, 80% of these values can be obtained by completing 20% of the tasks. Sometimes a variant of this principle called ABC analysis is also used. According to her, only 15% of the tasks you actually have to perform yourself and they are important for the project, another 20% you also have to perform yourself, but they are not as important as the previous ones, while the remaining 65% of the tasks are the least important, you can even give them to someone to perform.
Use the calendar
Keeping all the dates in your head may be a sign of a great memory, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a good solution for your productivity. The calendar is an invention that is extremely effective in the fight against the upcoming deadline.it does not matter here whether it will be a traditional calendar, in the form of a book or an application for organizing time (for example, Trello). You need to have everything planned with specific dates. Plan not only what you have to do on a particular day, but also in the perspective of the week, month and the entire duration of the project. However, you need to remember about the specifics of the work of the programmer. You can’t always focus only on coding. Productivity studies show that developers spend an average of 15 hours a week writing code, solving problems for another 5 hours, meeting, e-mail and teleconferencing for another 5 hours, preparing tools, deploying software for another 4 hours a week, thinking about the next 4 hours, devoting 3 hours to various portals (for example, Reddit, Facebook), testing code for another 2 hours, and failures. If you take into account all these issues, mark in the calendar the deadlines for the stages of work and tasks to be completed, the deadline should not be so scary anymore.
Do you often put things off? Psychologists call this habit procrastination. This is sometimes a scourge of those who try to keep up with various tasks, but they do not succeed. Chrispoher Parker, an English actor of the younger generation, whom you probably know from several box-office shows, once said that “procrastination is like a credit card. It’s great fun until you get the bill.” It’s hard to put it better. Research by Norman A. Milgram shows that employees are more stressed, make more mistakes, and have to make more corrections when faced with deadlines. Not only that, it turned out that most often people who postpone tasks for later, earn less by 11.5 thousand. dollars a year from employees who do not face procrastination. Interestingly, it often turns out that the habit of putting everything off for later is not due to laziness at all, but is a consequence of perfectionism. Such people are often afraid that they will not perform the task perfectly, so that they are satisfied with it, so they instinctively delay the moment of starting work, which, as a result, often leads to a catastrophe in the form of exceeding the deadline. Canadian psychologist, Professor Timothy Pychyl argues that the key to combating procrastination is learning to start a task quickly and efficiently. Follow this path if you don’t want deadline to become a nightmare for you.
Measure forces against intentions
This old saying is crucial in the work of a freelance programmer. Don’t forget you don’t have a hundred pairs of hands. If you take on too much, you will certainly fail in the fight against deadline.remember that you should plan no more than 60% of your working time for each day, because there will certainly be unforeseen events and problems that will need to be solved additionally. When you plan 100% of the time, you can’t do everything. However, in order to effectively measure forces against intentions, you must learn to refuse. Assertiveness is an important skill in project implementation. If you do every task they ask you to do, your efficiency will be very low. Take on only as much as you can actually perform. Don’t forget, your time is precious. Say no, and be honest, but polite.
Also remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. We have already mentioned this in the item on prioritization. It is there that you have determined the importance of each task and, accordingly, you already know which work you could delegate to someone else. It is best to share the work as soon as possible, do not keep in suspense tasks to perform. However, be sure to delegate tasks according to the abilities and capabilities of your coworker. You can also use various tools for group work (for example, Asana, Jira, stack, etc.), which will improve joint actions in the implementation of the project.
Negotiate a new deadline
Finally, a radical solution, which is worth applying when none of the above advice has worked. Once you know you’re not going to meet the deadline, you have to be brave and get in touch with the customer. To begin with, it is worth explaining the reason for the delay. It’s best to find a rational explanation, a concrete one. Then start negotiating a new date. However, make sure that the deadline is realistic. You need to get the time in which you will actually be able to complete the project. Otherwise, you’ll have to explain again why you didn’t make it. It can seriously damage your reputation and brand, and you can’t afford to do that.
Deadline does not have to be scary, if you approach the implementation of work rationally, guided by reason, not emotions. Evaluate whether the proposed time to complete the task is realistic and do not be afraid to negotiate a new deadline when you consider that it is impossible to complete the project, ensuring its high level. This approach will only gain respect and confirm your professionalism.