Self Organization

in Motivation 8 minutes read

I remember the very first day as an apprentice at HolidayCheck. Honestly, it was only four months ago, not so hard to recall. The thing is, it feels like it’s been a lifetime already. All the things I’ve learnt during the apprenticeship… one just can’t put a price tag on them. Successful time management and efficient self-organization made them happen.

I was both excited and afraid at the very first day. I had never had six months of free space to improve myself after starting my professional career. The first challenge for me was to shape these six months. I’ve needed to create a structure and follow it strictly in order not to get lost during my journey. After my apprenticeship half-time presentation, I think I’ve nailed it. That’s why I write this blog post to share my process with you.

In my 3rd blog post, I was so happy to announce my plan. After having that plan, the best thing I’ve done was to stick with it. I’ve shaped my plan over time to overcome problems I had, but I’ve never got out of the frame. Currently, in my Trello board, I have the following columns;

  • Backlog (One for each category)
  • Planned for This Week
  • Grooming
  • Ready To Do
  • In Progress
  • Done Weekly
  • Done Overall

Each step has its own unique purpose. When I find a new subject to practice, I add it to the backlog. On each Monday, I have a planning meeting with my mentors, in which we pick topics to cover in the following week. I move these tasks to the Planned for This Week column afterwards. After the meeting, I evaluate the tasks if they are small and descriptive enough. If not, big tasks go to the Grooming column. In the Grooming column, I either investigate about the task or hack it quickly to understand if I can create smaller and descriptive pieces from that single big task. These new, small and descriptive tasks go to the Ready To Do column. In the In Progress column, I keep the task I am currently working on. During the day, you can check anytime to see what I am doing, that’s what I call transparency. Ideally, there should be only one task active in the In Progress column. After I complete a task, I move them to Done Weekly column. Tasks wait here to be reviewed on the next planning meeting. After the weekly meeting, they are moved to Done Overall column. This column is analysed by the visualization tool, which I’ll come back to later.

It’s extremely important for me to have small and descriptive tasks. I can easily forget what exactly I have done during an enormous task. If tasks are descriptive enough, they will reflect the information right away. If they’re small enough, I can feel the power of accomplishment during the day. It’s also important for me to track my learnings in the future, and it could be important for the next apprentices to understand my 6 months.

I’ve labelled each task with respect to the six categories. These labels helped me to distinguish each task programmatically, as a follow-up step, I’ve implemented a basic data visualization application for my data in the board. It’s live in here and you can easily see my distribution amongst the categories. While preparing my apprenticeship half-time presentation, this application helped me more than I had expected.

I’ve calculated # of working days during my apprenticeship and the # of tasks I’ve completed. When I divided these numbers, it turned out I have completed approximately three tasks per day. I wanted to be more specific about my distribution amongst the categories and I’ve ended up with the following numbers, by dividing # of completed tasks in the category to three;

  • Software Design; 20 Days
  • Learning; 16 Days
  • Communication; 14 Days
  • Testing; 9.3 Days
  • Tools; 9 Days
  • Agile Methods; 5.6 Days
  • Others; 2.6 Days

By sticking to the plan, I’ve managed to reflect on what my focus during the apprenticeship has been. I find this to be just as valuable as the actual learnings, since it allows me to see how far I’ve come, and just how useful this process has been to my growth as a Software Crafter.