by Jonathan Moody
I recently had the opportunity to go to my cousins wedding in Vermont. For a variety of reasons, I had only three days in which to drive to Vermont, attend the wedding, and drive home. I had never driven for more than several hours solo, so I was a little nervous about the twenty-five or so round trip hours. Because of some strategic choices I made, the trip was (spoiler) a huge success, and all of that time gave me the chance to wax philosophical about solo project management, Findaway style. Here are a few of my observations…
Set Interesting Milestones
I needed something to combat the length of the journey. It’s always hard to keep going at full attention when the goal is too far away to see. I picked several locations that I really wanted to check out, and planned my drive around them, even thought it added some time to the journey. My first long break was in the New York chunk of Allegany State Park, where I spent almost an hour snacking and hiking. It was drizzling, but a long hike in the quiet gave me time to stretch my muscles, and let my focus stray a bit.
It’s important to understand your destination, but reaching milestones can help you get there. Maybe it is configuring your database, or getting messaging working, or finishing a module, but find something that interests you, and work towards that goal. When you get there, don’t be afraid to take a moment to appreciate it.
Take Lots of Stretch Breaks
I made a point to stop every one and a half hours or so for a short stretch break, whether I felt like I needed it or not. My neck can get really sore driving, and I didn’t want to wait until I felt uncomfortable to react. Taking an extra hour spread over the course of the trip to feel good was worth it.
I am very guilty when working on a project of continuing to bang my head against a problem, even when I am struggling. Regular breaks to handle some other item can take your focus away from the problem at hand long enough to let your brain stretch a little. A short walk also leads to some good breakthroughs for me.
Don’t be Afraid to take the Side Roads
I decided pretty early in my planning to mostly take state routes instead of interstates so that I would have interesting things to look at on the way. Like taking lots of breaks, this was going to add an hour or two to my overall time, but I was counting on it to keep me awake and attentive. It had the added benefit of making short breaks much easier to take.
This is something that Findaway projects are great for. Maybe there is a new language you would like to learn, or a new framework that you want to implement. Sure, it is going to extend the project a little, but maybe it will make the project that much more interesting, and will have the added benefit of teaching you something. Don’t be afraid to try that less travelled road – it might be well worth it.
Get There on Time
All of this stuff was great, but I still had to make it to the wedding (showered and dressed) on time. There was a hard deadline for my arrival; otherwise the journey would have been a waste. I am happy to say that I made it in plenty of time, saw some great sights on the way, and found plenty of places I would like to go back to in the future to explore more. Not only did my plans get me to the wedding on time, but after the reception I still felt good and was ready to start the new project of getting home.
So when working on my future projects, I plan on setting interesting milestones, looking for things to learn on the way, and I am going to enjoy the trip. And since this is Findaway, I am going to bring an audiobook or two!