Recently, I read an interesting article by Ben Northrop that can be found here. In the article, Ben talks about the concept of ‘doing extra,’ which is not the same as doing more. For example, if you’re asked to implement two APIs and finish early, you can use the extra time to think about how to make the implementation more efficient, secure, or reduce the code length. That’s ‘doing extra.’
In this blog post, I take a closer look at different aspects of doing extra work and putting it into practice.
The Challenge of Overestimation and Underestimation
The article suggests that finishing a task early is an opportunity to do extra. However, in Scrum-based teams, members usually have multiple small tasks to complete, and each task has an estimated time. Some tasks may finish early, but others may need more time, so they balance each other out. If you decide to do ’extra’ after finishing an over-estimated task, you may not complete your assigned tasks within the specified time window. Therefore, it’s not as simple as doing extra after finishing a single task.
But you can refine the estimation process by using various estimation techniques, such as Jacob Kaplan-Moss’s estimation technique.
Another approach is to allocate time for ‘doing extra’ during planning, depending on the team or company’s stage. However, not all companies have this luxury.
Handling Extra Work Amidst Time Constraints
Sometimes, you may not have enough time to do the extra work. In that case, it’s helpful to add the ideas to a task list and write out all the details. This way, you won’t forget the specifics when you have time to come back to the task.
It’s important to convince your manager that these tasks are valuable. Show how they help the company achieve its long-term goals. This way, you can make sure the tasks get the attention and resources they need in the future.
Personal and Company-side Benefits of Extra Work
By implementing an ’extra’ solution that improves feature delivery time, you not only benefit personally but also contribute to the company’s success. This will increase the efficiency and productivity of the company as a whole. Additionally, your solution may even inspire other team members to come up with innovative ideas and solutions, leading to even greater success in the future. By investing time and effort into improving processes and finding solutions, you show your dedication to the company’s success and growth. This can lead to further opportunities for personal and professional development, as well as recognition from your colleagues and superiors.
The Importance of Meeting Deadlines While Doing Extra
It’s essential to strike a balance between regular and additional work. This helps ensure that you complete your work within the given time frame without affecting its quality. I remember a colleague of mine who was an excellent programmer. He took up some extra work, which he thought would be beneficial in the long run. However, he ended up missing a critical deadline due to this extra work, resulting in conflicts within the team and added pressure on the team members. Although his extra work could have been appreciated, the team was unable to acknowledge his efforts due to the missed deadline. Therefore, it’s essential to plan and prioritize work in such a way that any additional work does not come at the cost of regular work, and deadlines are met without causing any conflicts or added pressure on the team.
Is Extra Work Always Valuable?
When considering whether or not ‘doing extra’ work is always beneficial, it’s important to take a few factors into account. While taking on additional tasks can demonstrate your initiative and willingness to go above and beyond, there may be instances where focusing on regular tasks is more valuable. For example, if the project has a short lifespan, there may not be enough time to fully complete long-term tasks, and it may be more beneficial to focus on the most important short-term tasks. Additionally, if there’s a shortage of developers, taking on extra work may not be feasible or may even cause more problems than it solves. Therefore, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of doing extra work before deciding whether or not to take on additional tasks.
The idea of doing extra work can be game-changing. It can improve both you and your team in the long term and make a big difference. However, it is not always applicable and several aspects must be considered, such as when doing extra work is beneficial or not. Additionally, it is important to meet normal work deadlines and not miss them in pursuit of extra work.