Time: My Precious

March 31, 2008

I’ve mentioned a few times now how hard you have to work when you set up a new business.  So it stands to reason that you really have to plan your day and prioritise effectively.

I used to hate the daily commute to and from work, but now I have grown to love it.   It’s pure “me” time – without disruption, in my iPod cocoon on the number 23 bus!

In the mornings I use this time to plan what’s ahead for the day, prepare my first five or so emails for the day, and also to get a download from Roger, our now UK based developer.   The Blackberry Curve is an awesome gadget and with Google Talk, I can choose to be connected anytime I want.

In the evenings, I use the bustime to quickly check-in with everybody and get an update as to where they are all at.   That helps me have a good think on it overnight, ready for planning the next morning.  The evening commute is also a great time to tidy up that inbox.  I’m still trying to maintain Inbox Zero!

Since I’ve gotten into the habit of spending 30 minutes at the start and end of each day I’ve noticed that my days really do seem to be more structured, organised and productive.

Make the investment in yourself and your time.  It’s well worth it.

Phew! It’s been quite a while since my last post and I’ve been busy busy busy.

The IT market is really tight at the moment if you are looking for worker bees, so when you find good people you need to accommodate their needs. Also, as a founder of a startup business, I’m always keen on keeping costs down. So I thought we’d give remote development a shot. Six developers, one of them the other side of the world. The bulk of them working in their “comfortable” development pits they call home.

It’s working!

There’s certainly no substitute for face-to-face interaction, but distance and space away from others certainly has its perks. It gives headspace to get stuff done. But the communication is incessant:

  • we use continuous integration techniques to not only ensure ongoing code quality and confidence, but also to see what progress we are all making
  • we make gratuitous use of instant messaging
  • it’s mandatory we gather round our group IM, Campfire
  • we document things as we discuss them on our Wiki
  • we like the telephone
  • we meet up every week, or when we need to

Depending upon where we are at in the project, sometimes these constraints actually help build better software. It forces you to write certain things down you might haven’t otherwise. You have a good audit trail. It enforces a little more rigour.

But at other times it can be tough. Particularly with the knarly requirements that only a good old whiteboard session can solve. But that’s when we meet up face-to-face.

It’s certainly not for everyone, and you need a certain breed of developer for this to succeed, but remote development can work.

We truly are a global marketplace.