I am a Web Developer, full-time, but that isn't so much important.

At my current gig, and at previous jobs really, there is this issue of not dividing up work and planning for it far enough ahead of time so that you don't lose the ability to focus.

For example, I've been working on one project for almost 5 months now, and the approach is inappropriate. I'm given free-reign on how to do, but not when, in what order, the length of time committed, where I work etc.

Management, getting to juggle multiple things at one time, likely doesn't see that a decrease in productivity and focus are inevitable(not just in my case) when there is no diversity in work.

How do I explain that throwing raw effort into something is inefficient, and is only reduces project momentum until a wall is hit.

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    What is stopping you from adopting an approach that makes you more productive? – Masked Man Feb 23 '15 at 9:22
  • Are you saying you would be more efficient if you were multitasking between more than one project? – Eric Feb 23 '15 at 13:40
  • @Happy, I am as productive as I am going to be in my current work environment with the resources allocated to me. My bottleneck is now external to me. – nobrandheroes Feb 23 '15 at 15:10
  • @Eric Multitasking may not be the correct word. I am not say doing multiple things simultaneously, but having multiple projects and being able to time-block them. Task A in in the morning, Task B before lunch, Task C after Lunch, etc... – nobrandheroes Feb 23 '15 at 15:12
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    @nobrandheroes A PhD is usually an exercise in spending 3 to 5 years solving a single, monolithic problem. In software development, I've known several developers who prefer to focus on a single problem until it is solved. I think you are mistaking your personal preference for a general preference. – Eric Feb 23 '15 at 15:58

Different things make differnt people happy and more productive. You are assuming that what you want to do is the most productive way to do business, but many people would envy you for the chance to concentrate on one thing.

You also have to remember that productivity is only one factor in how projects are managed and not generally the most important one. Your manager can't afford to have you working half a day on Project C which is due in November rather than all day on Project A which is due on March 15.

It sounds as if you are bored with your current project. That is not an issue of productivity so much as one of communication. You need to discuss with your boss what is happening with your project, what else you would like to be doing and how you prefer to work in order to be more productive. You will likely need to compromise as his priorities and yours are likely different. But you never get what you don't ask for.

Since you like the breaks in routine, you might comsider looking for that in your next job and looking for a place where you will be assigned mulitple projects or where you do production support as well as new dev and thus have lots of changes during the day (I often work on 9-10 different projects for 4-6 different clients in one day.) You might consider also a role where the project involvement in any one project may be less than the dev role. Something like a data analyst who is a shared resource for many projects might suit your personality better.

  • I generally agree with your thinking, but in my case, spring time between project A and C results in both A and C done, rather than neither getting done. I'm having trouble explaining that variety is necessary. I am literally the only member of our small team that doesn't have it. – nobrandheroes Feb 23 '15 at 15:44

The best answer would be for you to ask someone at your company why they do the things they do. Doing one project at a time may be their philosophy on how to do things. There may be other resources that they cannot make available, so there they don't see the need of you getting involved on those projects prematurely.

Things change all the time. How productive would you be if you worked on aspects of a project in advance that changed later and your work is not irrelevant?

I admit, I hate it when someone mentions a future project to me, but they then tell me not to do anything about it. My nature is to start thinking about how to do it, what hurdles will be in the way, the time-frame will be along with putting it someone on the scale of: "how much fun it will be" to "how much this project is going to suck".

  • It is actually just me who gets one project at a time. It has to do with company and customer relationships. We have institutional problems that we area slowly getting to resolve. This is one of them. – nobrandheroes Feb 23 '15 at 15:27

Have you used Asana before? It is a multifaceted tool that could be used to manage projects, teams or even team meetings. I had a similar problem at my current job where all our projects were executed in 5 week phases. All projects were written down on a spreadsheet and it was upto you to keep track of the project status. I usually ended up spending my weekends at work.

I convinced my teammates to use Asana to determine how we spend our time in one particular phase of the year. We write the number of tasks involved to execute the project and determine how we divide the team resources. We also use Asana for team meetings. This ensures that all projects are discussed within a reasonable amount of time. We found it useful in identifying if a team member is spread too thin in terms of their time while contributing to different projects.

We manage to provide updates every Friday. This has really helped us get better in tracking our projects in a month-to-month basis. Asana is free to use for upto a team size of 15.

I suggest that you take the Asana tool for a test drive and pitch it to your team members.

  • I like Asana and use it for freelance, however we are a JIRA shop. For everyone else, this isn't a problem. – nobrandheroes Feb 23 '15 at 15:38
  • @nobrandheroes We use JIRA to track issues. We use Asana for planning. We have team members who do not have to use JIRA. Asana has been helpful in tracking projects. – anonymouse Feb 23 '15 at 15:40
  • That's a good ideas. – nobrandheroes Feb 23 '15 at 15:41

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