As the need to stick to tight deadlines while working with distributed teams, in a wide variety of environments, means you can’t afford to waste a single second on actions that don’t get you closer to your goals. Not to mention that a single instance of miscommunication can cost the project a lot of time and money.
If you’re the first one to start work very early in the morning, and by late evening you still feel you haven’t made enough progress on your to-do list, have a look at the productivity and efficiency tips below. They could help you get back some control over those ever growing tasks.
Plan the work, work the plan
It goes without saying that each project you work on follows a plan. However, when you might be working on several projects at the same time, or even on just one project that is very prone to change, it’s important that you plan and prioritize your own activities on a daily basis.
For example, you might make a work plan for a week, and then set yourself no more than 3 main priority tasks that you should work on each day. Your to-do list may be huge and growing by the minute, but you should try to limit what you want to accomplish in one day. That way you increase your chances of actually finishing those tasks and getting a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day.
While working with deadlines, focus - time blocking vs. multitasking
Scientific research has shown the immense negative impact of multitasking on our cognitive processes and stress levels. Even though a very dynamic DevOps work environment may require you to multitask often, you should block out set time periods during the day when you will focus on working only on the priority tasks you set for yourself at the beginning of the day (see the above point).
During those time blocks, turn off notifications from communication apps, put on some headphones to block out noise and, if necessary, find a place where you will not be distracted by co-workers, and just work on nothing else but the item at hand.
Prioritize is important, in working to a tight deadline
“That’s all well and fine”, you’ll say, “but how can I decide which things are the most important to focus on in a day, and which I can postpone?” It’s true that we often don’t get any clear indication of the degree of importance of tasks from managers or colleagues - they’re ALL urgent and important to them. :) Nevertheless, as a DevOps professional, your expertise and experience allow you to discern between what is really essential for the project, or and what may not be so urgent and impactful. You could just use your gut to prioritize, or you can use a more systematic approach, like the Eisenhower decision matrix, for example.
Use your peak productivity hours to do the most demanding work
Much has been written about the benefits of waking up before sunrise - 4-5am - and getting a head start on work before everyone else. However, everyone is wired differently, so what works for some may not work the same for you.
Identify the periods of the day when you have the most energy and you are the most productive. It could be first thing in the morning, or in the afternoon, or even late at night, if you’re a night owl. Then focus on tackling the most difficult work you have planned for that day, in those time intervals, to ensure success.
Communicate the deadlines to your team
Clear and open communication in DevOps is crucial. If all the Development and Operations teams working together are well aware of their common goals and where they stand with regard to achieving them, they can coordinate their efforts and adjust work and priorities accordingly.
Talk to your managers and colleagues openly and constructively about what your progress, challenges and what you need to deliver the right results. However, remember that everyone else is in the same boat - listen and try to really understand what the other team members are going through and what they need, as well. When in doubt, ask. Then you can determine how to best help each other to reach the objectives and nail those deadlines.