We’ve all been there… The deadline is quickly approaching. You’re beginning to see the bottom of the once seemingly infinite well of budget hours set aside for you. There are still a bunch of IE7 bugs in the tracker assigned to you. You’ve been looking at the same Photoshop designs for the past 3 or more weeks. You have so many Chrome Dev Tools windows open that you’re amazed how the final one can still actively crawl the DOM.
It’s the last 10% of a big project and you’re itching for it to be over. Already in your mind you’re planning the next build in the pipeline. You’re dreaming of a time when, once again, you can sit and code and code for hours without thinking about IE7 or how that inline list might respond on the Blackberry Playbook. Listed below are some tips to push through the final phase of your project, and make your dreams of a fresh stylesheet in Sublime Text 2 a reality.
The first thing you need to do is keep a level head. With deadlines looming, its easy to get frustrated over missing assets, or poorly documented 3rd party software. Getting angry will get you nowhere. If anything its going to stress your co-workers more; you even might end up losing more time as they shove more hands on deck. So when situations arise, take a breath, document what you need, send it to the appropriate party, and move onto something else while you wait for an answer.
2. Take Breaks
Probably one of the most important things to keep in mind on a long-term project. Take your eyes off what you’re working on from time to time. I’m sure you’ve done it… You’re confused as to why something isn’t working and you spend 45 minutes to an hour trying to figure it out, when, in the end, it was just a typo or syntax error all along. This occurs even if you’re looking for these errors. Sometimes your brain gets fatigued and sees what it wants to see. It really helps if you make sure you’re taking your full hour for lunch, or stepping away from your desk from time to time to throw a football or bullshit about the latest episode of Breaking Bad. So, be sure to take breaks and the eureka moments will come.
3. Set Small Goals
The 50 bugs left in the tracker might seem daunting, but not if you break them down into smaller chunks. Focus on similar items or items on the same template. This way, when you test, you can test several at once and save time. For example, if you are adjusting how <select> fields appear on different browsers (always a pain), be sure to test on all your browsers with each change you make, so you know where you need to adjust. Adjust in Chrome and FF first, then, if you need to, move onto IE. Be sure you’re taking advantage of conditional IE stylesheets, too.
4. Be Humble
If you need help… ask for it. If you think you don’t need help… think again. Be sure you can recognize when you might need an extra hand, and let your project manager know. It’s hard to relinquish control of this creation you’ve built, and trust it to someone else, but sometimes getting another perspective, especially another developer’s perspective, can really help break through any barriers you’re experiencing.
5. Finished Strong
In the last few days leading up to your deadline you’ve probably made about a hundred commits to the repo. With all those commits, its easy to forget to minify your JS or CSS, smush your images, or validation/lint check your code. Just because the finish line is close, doesn’t mean you can let up. Dig deep and finish strong.
All in all, just because its the last 10% of the build doesn’t mean its going to take a short time. Be sure you’re setting yourself up with enough time to thoroughly test and alpha your site. With the end near, but dozens of barriers in the way, follow these steps and keep moving forward.