A Daily Loop

Around three years ago I found myself managing a team of Mulesoft developers. This was a big leap for me. I had lead teams, but I had never had the actual title of manager. I never had the responsibility and accountability that went along with being an actual manager. Bluntly, I had no idea what I was doing.

Like most newbie managers I made a lot of mistakes. I had good mentors, though. Peers who had followed a similar path to mine were able to give me excellent guidance. I learned a lot from my team. In fact, I think it was my team that helped teach me to become a solid manager. What matured me to the point that I was a good manager was one tool: the daily loop.

I first learned about the daily loop while searching for ways to become more productive. I wish I still had a link to the video so that I could properly credit the person who introduced me to the concept. Granted, this wasn’t entirely new to me. I had practiced SCRUM in my development efforts for years, but I had always thought of it in terms of completing development tasks geared toward product development. I had never thought of it as something I could apply to my daily life. Something that made me accountable to myself, my team, and to the stakeholders depending on me and my team to deliver.

So, here’s my daily loop process. It’s evolved over the years, but I still do the same thing every day.

Open your favorite note tracking app. Mine was Evernote for a while until I started using Microsoft’s OneNote. OneNote is now my go-to note-taking and journaling tool. Create a new tab or section and call it something meaningful to you. Mine’s called Daily Dev Log. Create one note that you can copy from daily. Mine is called, @productivity loop. This is your template. You’ll basically fill this in every day, week, and month. It can be as simple as the following:

  • What did I complete yesterday?
  • What can I complete today?
  • What’s standing in my way?

Mine has grown and looks more like the following:

  • Daily
  • What did I complete yesterday?
  • What can I complete today?
  • What’s standing in my way?
  • Do I have any important meetings on my calendar to plan for?
  • Weekly (Monday Morning)
  • What did I accomplish last week? Can I add it to my Resume?
  • What do I plan to accomplish this week?
  • What were my biggest slowdowns from last week?
  • Did I meet all my goals from last week?
  • If I’m working on a project are all my PMs up to date? Is the project plan being followed? Is it up to date?
  • Is there anything I can do this week to improve the process?
  • Is this week’s working times blocked off on the calendar?
  • Do I have any personal goals I need to address this week?
  • Monthly
  • What three big things did I accomplish last month?
  • What three big things do I want to accomplish this month?
  • Is there anything that needs course correction that we should discuss with our manager? Is that on the calendar?
  • What article or project will you work on this month to help your career?

I follow the habit of completing this daily, weekly, and monthly. It’s allowed me to not only clearly communicate with clients and stakeholders where I am in the development process but has also helped me to stay on track with learning new technologies, completing bigger personal projects, and adjusting my career.

Additionally, when it comes to end-of-year reviews, I have an entire journal of data to look back on and present to my employer. There is something very satisfying about looking over a years work and realizing just how much you’ve accomplished. And with a tool like this in your arsenal, it will not only make you a better developer, but it can make you a better team member, and team leader.

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