Working as an IT architect, developer, database administrator, or system administrator requires lots of methodology. Here are a few suggestions to help you work efficiently and to preserve project life.

Never waste time on something you’ve already done

A common IT mistake is to forget how something previously was done, whether a few months or a few years ago. I am amazed when I think of how many hours I have wasted during my career on redoing things I had done before. It’s worse when it happens time and time again. So how can avoid wasting time? The answer is simple: documentation.

OK, I can hear you from here, ‘It also takes time to make documentation!’ Perhaps, but there are small tricks that can make documenting quick work.

Do documentation faster than ever

The point of documentation is to be able to understand quickly what has been done. Formatting and sentence structure are not the most important things, since the documentation usually is for personal use. As an engineer, more than 90 percent of my documentation has been exclusively for me.

The following are tips to make fast work of documentation:

  • Screenshots: I use Skitch or MacOS built-in screenshot functions. I paste the screenshots in a simple text document. Screenshot sequences can help with workflow later on.
  • Screencast: If screenshots do not suit you, try a screencast. A screencast is a video recording of your work, which provides documentation that can be used later.

Done faster is better than perfect someday

In my opinion, doing work faster is better than doing it perfectly. Let me tell you why.

Saved time

Doing something perfectly takes almost twice the time than working quickly. In working quickly, you save time that can be used to pamper your customers and ask them how you can make improvements.

We learn by practice, not by perfection

Trying to reach perfection means double-checking what you do. Perfection may eliminate mistakes, but you can learn more from your mistakes than from your perfect projects.

Focusing

When you do something planned, focus on it, regardless of what comes to mind. One of the worst things a developer can do is to think of features that customers might find cool and immediately write code for it, which could sidetrack him from a current task. Why not write down the idea, perhaps on a sticky note, and review it later with a project manager?

Try something new

When you code a project or deploy an infrastructure, you might discover a new way to do something, such as a plug-in or other method to help with your project. Here is my recommendation: Spend 10 minutes to ask questions and get feedback about this new technique. If you like what you hear, spend about two hours using the technique. At the end of the two hours, you will know whether or not the method suits your project. Practice is the best way to move forward and gain experience.

Keeping focused

Staying focused is the key to a successful project. I really like the way Tim Ferris and David Allen do things. Effective ways to stay focus include turning off notifications for emails and chats and keeping only one window open on you computer. I also recommend using the pomodoro countdown, which helps you to know if you’re efficient or not and provides insight on how you can move forward to reach your goal in a dedicated time. Remember: A task takes only the time that we allow.

A success path

Having many years of documentation is a valuable treasure. Knowledge is the key to success for many things and will help you to thrive in various situations. Moreover, as soon as you delegate work, you’ll be thankful for the documentation.

How do you work?

Now that you’ve discovered how do I work, tell me more about yourself. What techniques do you use to improve your work? Feel free to share. I’d be glad to comment.