Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Keep up the routine

Routines are good. Especially when it comes to working on projects. I started this blog months ago but I didn't quite get into the routine of writing every week. Result? No blog post for almost 3 months. Pretty crap really, I know... But I'm back here confessing my sins so that somebody may learn from this all too common mistake.

Keeping up routines in the office is hard. Because IT Operations is always changing, you never know when the next fire will spring up, or a new urgent request will take you away from your project. And there's a lot of pressure to put a project on the back burner because other tasks often require a much faster turnaround; minutes or days instead of weeks. And what if the project doesn't have a specific deadline? What if you're just trying to fix a problem which has been wasting the team's time for months? You could probably live with it for a few more months, couldn't you?

While you may be nodding your head at this point, the real answer is of course 'no'. In the long term, putting things off will always come back to haunt you in the future. Projects are normally solving problems and problems are like weeds, if you don't keep a check on them they're here to stays and will choke your team slowly.

So how to do you keep a routine in Ops? Well it's pretty hard to be honest but here's a few things I can suggest
  • Learn to say no - there will always be new 'urgent' tasks to distract you, but you have to say no sometimes because otherwise, you simply work on anything long enough to make real progress.
  • Before you do anything, make a plan for the day - This always helps me. It's too easy to start on something in the morning then get drawn into other tasks. Making a list helps you prioritise the things you need to get done today.
  • Write a weekly report - There's nothing more embarrassing the having to write a project update with no update. This even works if the update is only for you! Start a new Word document, and log your weekly actions on important project. Each log with have two parts 'The Good' - things that went well, and 'The Bad' - things you need to improve on
It may not sound like much but these steps have always helped me to make progress when things seems to have stalled. If you've got anything that helps you keep a routine, please leave a comment or drop me a mail, I could do with all the help I can get!