Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 15-minute project

I get this question a lot.

"You work full time at Sogeti, got two kids at home and a house to tend to. How do you find the time to create and maintain a multiplatform game?"

The answer to this question is simple. Use all the available time you got! If you have 5 minutes on the bus, use it to correct a tiny piece of code, perhaps refactor something? Seven minutes at breakfast? Perfect! Write a todo-list! And the golden 15 minutes after lunch, use them to kill an item off from the breakfast todo-list. Think of it this way, if you manage to get half an hour of administrative stuff done during the day, it's half an hour less when you sit down for a longer session.

The bulk part of development happens at night between 9pm and 11pm. Usually every night. It also keeps my wife happy since she can watch whatever TV-show she wants to. :) At this point, I'm pretty clear on what to focus on since I've already made my mini-sprint backlog during the day.

But what's more important is to try to be happy with the fact that something got done today. It doesn't matter  if you only found five minutes in a day to work on your project because something got done! You are getting somewhere!

Also, try not to steal family time to develop your free-time-project. It DOES NOT work in the long run. Spend time with your kids!


The sensmoral in this is that all of these tiny dev sessions really add up. Get small stuff out of the way during the day (like planning and minor refactoring) to clear the path for the two hour nightly development session!

To sum up

The golden 15-minute project rules:

  • Use small fractions of time to organize stuff. Less than 5 minutes available? Write todos on a post-it and attach to forehead).
  • Medium sized timeslots, up to 15 minutes? Open your code and refactor or just browse it. It will help you find your way around it for the late night dev session.
  • Prepare for the 1-2 hour nightly dev session during the day! Make sure you know what to do!
  • Force yourself to sit down at night, the first 5 minutes sucks. If you can't find inspiration after that, sit five more minutes. Fix just one thing more!
  • Spend time with your family! They are only kids once.

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