Time off the grid

It’s been half-term, often when I get a chance to be unplugged for a while and off the grid if I can. Often though this gives my mind space to think more about big picture things about DEV, and that can lead to 40,000 feet ideas about re-organising everything.

As more and more of our lives become digital, we’re losing the natural downtime that moving physically created. We’ve lost walks down the corridor, waiting for people to walk into a room and the headspace of travelling to a meeting. As a result in this back-to-back world organising my calendar has become a more crucial part how I attempt time management. With so many tools, apps and different ways to structure a calendar, I have found it hard to find the most effective method for making sense of time for myself and in the wider context of time for DEV. One shape I have repeatedly found valuable though is organising a calendar into a grid of year of days laid out in 2-week columns. Here’s why:

Better Visualisation of Patterns

When I organize my calendar into 2-week columns, I’m able to see patterns more easily. This is because I’m able to view two weeks’ worth of activities side by side and that aligns with the 2 week sprint we run as a team. This can be especially helpful when I try to determine how much time is being spent on certain activities, or if I’m trying to identify patterns in our workload. It also evens out the whole year, when you see a year in 2 week chunks and measure financial performance all the ‘months’ have the same amount of time, and so are easier to compare (boy do those Roman Emperors who messed with the calendar have a lot to answer for!)

Building Rhythms

We’ve recently re-organised our meeting rhythms at DEV, in part because the meeting structure had become unweildy through growth and in part because when you stepped back from the meetings there were just too many of them for too many people. It was only by zooming out we could see the rhythms and design better sequencing. A sprint was a row, a ‘month’ was 2 rows and so that might be a good time to retro etc. Quarters for board meetings became easier to see and when you factor for holiday times you can see more easily where the peaks and troughs in the year fall. This just doesn’t happen so easily for me in blocks of 30, 31 and 28/29 it always feels harder and less clear.

Easier to Share

Just like with Wardley mapping, making something easier to digest visually makes it easier to communicate and leads to more alignment. To make it easier to share my visualisation of this concept I built two things, first was a simple script to produce a year’s worth of dates in the grid format - easy to print or PDF. That’s over here on Github: https://codepen.io/hawkz/pen/MWqbWyw?editors=0110

Secondly, I also PDF’d the output in 2 and 4 column grids and dropped that into Miro, so I could more easily shuffle things around on top. You can see that output here: https://miro.com/app/board/uXjVPjFhjo4=/

Overall, organising your calendar into a grid of 2-week columns can be a helpful tool for anyone looking to better manage their time. Hopefully of use to someone else out there that hates the bizarre month structure we use today!

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