Has someone ever told you about the "calm before the storm", implying that things were good now, but about to get out of hand?
Or perhaps that, "life's greatest triumphs usually come right after life's greatest slumps?"
I have always found these to be true, but I think there is an important lesson to be learned here. An often overlooked component of work with a far greater importance than we give it is the cycles of work.
You see, most projects have periods of time where you work really hard, and then you get to scale it back a bit, focus on supporting the product, or perhaps even, enjoying the fruits of your labor.
But it seems that as a society, we've gone against this inherent component as we strive to find the all-too-elusive "balance" in our work-life relationships.
We strive to maintain a certain, consistency, in our lives.
- Consistency with our morning latte.
- Consistency with our route to work.
- Consistency with the time we arrive, the time we leave, and the amount of time we put in.
But let's take a brief pause and look at the world around us.
There's day, and there's night. There's a time to wake, and a time to rest. A time to work, and a time to play. A time for plants to grow, and time for them to die.
There are cycles in everything around us!
So why is it that when it comes time to plan our projects, we forget about these cycles and we want a consistent workload?
For one of our projects, we finally took a step back and looked at our normal development and support cycles; and what we found was quite astounding.
We naturally have a lot of time during the summer where support is low, and feature development is high. Following summer, we have a really high support time, and a really low opportunity for feature development.
We've always kind of known this in the back of our minds, but we've never really done any planning with it in mind.
Cycles are a natural occurrence for this business, and by realizing when and where the cycles are, we can actually begin to leverage these cycles and have them work to our advantage.
We can plan budgets and resources around the high times, but keep our support costs low. Then, after development, we can swap those resources to better support our customers.
Are you struggling to find the proper balance in your projects?
Take a step back, and evaluate if you need a consistent balance, or if you really just need to plan around the natural cycles your project already has.
How can it work for you? In the comments below, tell us about your project's cycles, and ways that you can leverage the ups and downs to be more productive.