Stuck at your web development job? Break your routine
Getting stuck in the same cycle at work can be fatal for your creativity and motivation to go on. If you’re doing the same trick over and over again, project after project, you will find yourself out of energy pretty soon. I’ll try to explain what might be going wrong and what to do about it in this article.
Sailing in the comfort zone
Back when you started your web development job everything was exciting and new. All kinds of new problems and challenges arose when you got projects to work on. This feeling of challenge will last for a few years until a point where you feel you’ve established your workflow.
When this happens you’ll feel good about doing projects and will probably deliver great stuff to your clients. I found that projects were even beginning to get dull and thought there was nothing left for me to improve or figure out. The challenge was gone, but the products were good.
The problem here is that you might have the feeling that you hit the ceiling when it comes to knowledge, and don’t know what you can do to improve your products.
Stop the routine, try something different
What most people do when they get the same kind of project that makes you go “Time to reinvent the wheel again.” is to read web development blogs that discuss the latest and greatest.
It’s a good thing to fool around with the demos that are available everywhere and get your hands on the code yourself. This doesn’t take away the fact that there are still projects on your to-do that you have no interest in doing, but you kind of have to. It does take away the edge.
If the company your work for allows it, you could try to get a completely different project from time to time.
- Try to make a mashup of services, or try to make a service yourself.
- Create a completely different website for once.
- Start a blog and write down your thoughts and ideas to share them with the world.
- Creating apps for devices and other applications can be a great step away from your routine too.
Is the company you work for only creating websites for clients with a CMS to back it and your only task is to convert design to code? Then you might be in trouble.
Is the company not willing to give you space for making your own stuff aside from what you normally do? Ugh.
From what I’ve experienced before is that it will kill your creativity massively. Your motivation will go down the drain as well. You’ll become a tool for the company, not an inspirator or activator you’d want to be.
Talk about being stuck
The hardest part for some to accomplish is to talk about what you’re feeling and doing. It will relieve you from the stress of worrying about stuff that bothers you at work. Talk to your co-workers on what you think is killing your creativity and that you want to try something new.
The most important people here are the ones that make the decisions about projects and what will be done. Most of the time this will be your boss(es) or project manager (if you have any.)
Trying to convince them you have to break the cycle shouldn’t be too hard if they know what is best for their company. It’s practically impossible to give a person the same thing to do every single time and expect them to be happy and motivated about it. If we wanted that, we probably would have chosen a different field to work in. For some people it works, but you can’t expect everyone to be like that.
Some will try to look for different project for you to work on, some will give you room to explore new trends / techniques around web development. Others will not see the problem and make you do your job the same as always, in that case they’re just idiots who refuse to listen.
Have meetings about projects
Like talking about being stuck, it’s oh so important to have meetings about the projects you’re working on. Especially when you’re working with a team that involves more than two people.
Plan meetings, or just walk over to each other and talk about what you’re doing. The best way to look for new solutions, tackle new problems and think about great new features is to talk and discuss a project with the whole team.
It’s no use when one part of the team is left out of meetings, especially in the beginning. Sure, when a meeting is about the design details a developer is less necessary, but when talking about solutions to the client’s wishes it’s more than usual to be part of the process.
Try and get things as clear as possible before even making a mockup, wireframe of design. A developer can help you see things from a different perspective and might even tell you a thing or two you never knew about. We can inspire designers to create something new, thus creating something new and exciting for the developer to do too. This also makes your work as a company stand out.
If you need to, change jobs
You feel you’ve tried everything and nothing is working to improve the diversity of your job, there is always one thing you can do: change jobs. A while ago I had to change jobs, which at the time I was really bummed about. Even though I was stuck and didn’t feel like I could get away from it I felt I could hang in there.
Change gives you room explore and try new things. The grass is always greener on the other side for sure, but it’s the truth when you feel like you’re stuck at your current job and nobody wants to listen or do something about it.
There are enough companies around that want to hire web developers, and not only agencies that create websites. Keep that in mind: you’re valuable.