2 Replies - 3560 Views - Last Post: 11 December 2012 - 02:02 PM

#1 8888  Icon User is offline

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How do i dig myself out of this deep hole?

Posted 11 December 2012 - 11:52 AM

I may be a bit bias in the way i word this but any opinions and suggestions are welcome. I should start by saying i have a MSc in CS and a degree in new media +6 years expereince and im probably around a middleweight developer.

I started a web development company with my friend from uni a year ago, there was a 4 month gap in the middle where i went miles away work on a big project. Ive since returned and picked up where we left off. A year on though i find im still staying up til 5am and getting up at 9 sometimes 2-3 days without sleep.

While i was away i was working 9-5 and struggling to keep up with doing stuff for my clients 8 hours ahead, after work, so things stagnated. We currently have about 12 active projects, with one other part time developer and a full time freelancer who is dealing with one of our major projects. I am solely responsible for concurrently developing 2 big sites similar to gumtree in functionality, at the same time as about 5-6+ small WordPress based 5-10page sites. a lot of the content isnt in yet or the client is delaying so i chop and change project every other day which does my head in. Is it reasonable to expect myself to remember the intricate details of each project when i come back to it a week later? and remember the details of a task which hasnt been written down? my business partner seems to think so. or am i just forgetful?

Im particularly bad at estimating timescales which doesnt help, added to that a lot of the technologies im am using are new to me (a magento site took weeks to theme rather than days and was full of bugs, even after 1000's of google searches and hours reading forums) im still trying to learn and find the best CMS for us to use and getting my head around the likes of Bootstrap and jquery, Cpanel / Linux (we just got a blank vps for me to set up with no experience) even installing an SSL certificate caused everyone's mail clients to go down which was more stress for me to sort out. I find the pressure of the workload and timescales and trying to learn this stuff so fast is beginning to turn me against my career path. The fact that i never seem to get anything done really winds up my business partner and iv come to associate him with the stress and pain of the whole situation especially when I get berated or a look that says "oh you retard" when I forget something. Even today i spent hours learning how a particular themeforest theme worked with wordpress and how i could twist it to work for our partiuclar needs, on the surface had done no work, that triggered a 30 minute tirade of anger and stress and questioning what i had done from my business partner. had i taken too long to work on that? shoudl i have done it in 2 hours instead of 6? i told him i would take 2 hours. i was wrong.

I feel like im running myself into the ground. My sleeping pattern has got so bad that when im working im half asleep and making mistakes, my eyes are constantly purple underneath, i literally fall asleep at my desk, its affecting my social life too, ive not slept more than lightly for the last year and grind through impossible code puzzles in my half sleep wich keeps me awake, when im already exhausted. plus the work is rushed and buggy when it does get done so drags on into the next project. I also procrastinate quite badly, pacing the livingroom, looking out the window when Im alone for three days straight in the flat and start to get cabin fever which means i do even less work and the negative feedback loop continues. I get told im the only one with the problem when i say that i cant work from home any more, and examples of other freelancers get brought up. an office wouldnt bring any extra cash in to the company but im convinced having that moving more than 2 meters away from my bed to go to "work" would get me working, at the moment i feel guilty like i should be working 24-7.

It is important that we do all this work to raise enough cash to get our business to the next level but every month still feels like a struggle to pay the rent (there is about 20K coming in by Jan) and i have to borrow money from friends often to buy food or get a taxi to a meeting, so it is vital the money keeps coming in. (im also 20 mins late for nearly all meetings but thats a different issue)

have you experienced anything similar? how can i deal with the issues ive raised? is it realistic to develop 10 sites at once? how can i improve my relationship with my business partner? do you struggle to work at home? how do you deal with that? i think if i dont get my life on track by feb i will seriously consider giving it all up, but that seems like such a waste.

any ideas!!? i need help!


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Replies To: How do i dig myself out of this deep hole?

#2 gregwhitworth  Icon User is offline

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Re: How do i dig myself out of this deep hole?

Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:17 PM

Uhm, wow. I'll just focus on the questions at the end:

have you experienced anything similar?
I think most devs had, technology is always changing and you will ALWAYS need to learn new systems to stay ahead and relevant.

how can i deal with the issues ive raised?
This is hard to know for sure since so much of it depends on you. For example, you spoke about how you procrastinate, work on that. Make a list of things to do on each day and make sure you get them done. Hold yourself accountable to those, don't just brush them off and say you can do them tomorrow.

is it realistic to develop 10 sites at once?
This is a very broad question as all sites vary in size and you aren't really telling me the size of your team (unless these 10 sites are with your partner so that would be 2). I think if you feel it's too much, then it probably is and you need to see where the pain points are (eg: knowledge of technologies used, time in the day vs project deadlines, work vs family balance, etc).

do you struggle to work at home?
No, but that's me. If you do - then get out. Find a place that does work and helps you focus.

I wouldn't give up, and I'm not trying to be rude I just think that in your paragraphs you basically said what your problems are, so begin tackling them one by one. I feel for you on the sleep and feeling over your head. I suggest getting VPS with management if possible as that would take care of your linux woes, but it is nice to know though when you get the time. As far as Megento is concerned, do a cost/benefits analysis of your time vs hiring a contractor to do it. You will NEVER know everything and will have to depend on others at times, especially when you don't have the time. My biggest suggestion is to take on clients that you can manage, don't take projects for the sake of taking projects, take projects that push you, but also allow you to get a good return on your investment of time.

Also, if you have any coding questions feel free to ask them here and we'll help out.

This post has been edited by gregwhitworth: 11 December 2012 - 12:18 PM

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#3 IJET  Icon User is offline

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Re: How do i dig myself out of this deep hole?

Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:02 PM

To quote greg, "wow". I'll try to summarize an answer instead of picking it apart piece by piece and add onto greg's advice.

Why agree to do projects and not know how to properly use the tools(CMS systems and magento as you mentioned for example)? You'd have to at least find a contractor to help and that's more money out of your pocket. You already mentioned you have trouble covering costs, so you're setting yourself up to fail and you'll waste your clients time & money which will result in a bad reputation. In freelancing/running your company, your reputation will build your business starting out not just working hard & staying up all night.

-Get a better understanding of time management. For yourself and when telling your clients their projects timeline.
-Get a better understanding of overall project management.
-Relax. You have plenty of experience if you need to get back into the 9-5 job field(assuming you left to run your business). Perhaps do small freelance jobs part-time on the side until you better understand the market/business and work full-time in a 9-5. This will help you develop new skills without the overload and stress of needing money and help you learn how to predict the time involved to complete projects.
-Know your limits. Yes, technology does change and you'll have to learn it, but you shouldn't be learning something new from scratch when you tell your client their project will be done in 1 month. Don't just take on every project that comes your way, be selective and be mindful of your current skill set or if you'll need a contractor(remember to factor in the costs for one).
-Once again, know your limits. This time in regards to how many projects you can handle. If you aren't making enough money to cover your costs and have to take on more than you can handle, you have a bad business model and financially it's a sinking ship.
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