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Shortly after the previous post, we had someone volunteer to be a new beta tester for Silver is Gold! They have a background in IT, and very quickly stepped in to both advocate for my time and help mentor me, which was helpful and appreciated.

Our beta tester quickly helped to reinforce that I need to set boundaries that I can sustain, and asked the questions about what will happen with long-term maintenance of the site. Those answers are still a bit nebulous, but having a bit more breathing room was exactly what I needed, as my day job had been ramping up and pushing my mental bandwidth to the limit.

To help increase accuracy of my deliverables and to create a good pipeline for managing site changes, I developed a workflow using Airtable. My goal was to capture all the data I need, but present it in a way that was not overwhelming for the rest of the team, and also make it easy to asynchronously communicate with specificity.

I also didn’t want this system to be too strict or inflexible - it should be snappy to create a new task and move it through to approval and not bog down my throughput. There MUST be a net reduction in my time spent overall to make using a system like this viable!

I’ve gushed about Airtable on here before, so to quickly give an overview, I’m utilizing a “new task” form that is tied to a task database, and a “submit feedback” form which is tied to a feedback database, with a reference column to the task database. The task database has multiple views where team members can see the status of slices of all recorded tasks. Each task card in the gallery views has a “submit feedback” button that pulls up the feedback form, pre-populated with the record ID of the task where the button was clicked.

Required fields are minimal - a short name, a priority level (immediate, secondary, backlog), who’s assigning to whom, and a detailed description of what the task is and conditions for acceptance. There are other optional fields, such as a URL to view the changes and testing, and other small notes.

I have a feedback for review section and a tasks for estimation section to allow me to quickly be aware of and review submissions as they come in, and a chime plugin that dings accordingly every time something new is added. WIP notes allow me to both help remember where I last left off, and communicate with the team the status of everything shown on their views. Kanban view for team sync meetings allows me to quickly discuss my WIP notes and reprioritize all tasks on the fly/ with click-and-drag between columns.

This gives us a great async way to communicate, and is easy to modify and improve as needed. The team has been open to trying things out, and it gives us an easy talking reference during meetings to review and test outstanding tasks.

I worked on some tasks using new task system for a few days after implementing, and found it to be a massive workflow improvement, in terms of resistance getting into tasks and accurately tracking everything in one place. It was easy to quickly update my notes and leave thoughts for myself. A “link for testing” field made it easy to jump right to the pages in question to verify that my changes matched the acceptance criteria.

New users have generated a huge influx of changes and feedback, which is great for the site, but was becoming challenging to juggle. My day job had become extremely busy, to the point where I would get home late and could honestly go directly to bed with how exhausted and mentally cooked I’d been. The number of meetings I was jumping on for the client site had been increasing, too. I had three scheduled one week, and since then have asked to combine any meetings for the week down into one.

After a busy week of chipping away at changes, I finally migrated Production back to Staging, hopeful to restore more of a controlled development environment.

During this time, I had a meeting with the client about another potential project, but with my bandwidth and availability, and the timeframe they were wanting, it was looking like things wouldn’t work out, unfortunately. I would have enjoyed to take on a more technical project, but this was likely for the best, as it absolutely would have overextended me.

I conducted a training session with a team member on how to use WP-Admin, how to adjust and modify some of our key plugins, and how to create community content, newsletter campaigns, and knowledge base articles to support users. It was a great teaching and learning session! When I’m conducting training, I enjoy taking note of all the curiosities and new questions that pop up along the way, and digging into them after we’ve covered all the key content. I feel like it was a very productive session!

A big part of the training covered rolling out various ways to connect with the growing audience, in the form of video content, articles, and events. The team on this project is awesome, and it has opened my eyes towards the breadth of engagement that launching a small company requires.

A bit later, the Airtable workflow has simplified my mental load and increased my throughput measurably. As of this writing (the end of September), I have:

  • 14 tasks completed within the past 2 weeks
  • 5 tasks blocked awaiting feedback/approval
  • 4 tasks unblocked and in-progress
  • 2 unblocked tasks in the backlog

Team members are now successfully submitting new tasks and feedback through the forms, allowing me to quickly complete tasks with a paper trail of confirmation - not too bad considering it was originally an evening’s investment! With how much time it has saved me having highly focused notes all in one place, and knowing what is important to work on, it seems like everyone is on board with the process.

I have a few tasks where I am at a bit of a standstill. I tend to work on something until I get blocked or stuck, and then work my way down the priority list. Some things may need to go in the backlog altogether until v2, though, with the restrictions of our current implementation.

Overall, I’ve been getting great feedback from the team. We’re starting to have our first public events and making arrangements for regular events to build community.

I had a massive two-year project for work that finally shipped at the beginning of October. Due to component issues, things got down to the wire, and had a nail-biting final demo with the customer, but it was ultimately successful, and the customer left very pleased. In the stress vacuum immediately following, I have been feeling a little under the weather, and doing lots of work to clean up everything and get all of my documentation in line.

It’s a little over halfway through the month now, and I’m finally in a place where I can get back to getting caught up on tasks and rolling out some fairly large changes to the overall structure and financial model of Silver is Gold. I’ve also been pushing some life initiatives forward to increase my mental bandwidth cap, in general, and slowly making progress there.

I had a nice sync meeting with the client and reviewed the state of the project and pending tasks. Quite a bit has changed since two weeks ago, and about a third of my incoming tasks were eliminated by a new change that changes both the pricing structure and the account structure for talent accounts. The rest of the evening was spent creating formal tasks from all the outstanding requests and emails, and clarifying and compiling everything as best as I could.

A few things were quick to knock out, but the bigger stuff will need more focus another day.

Time Breakdown

Here’s a record of my time spent these past weeks:

  • 9/2
    • 2h
  • 9/3
    • 1h
  • 9/4
    • 1h
  • 9/6
    • 1h
  • 9/8
    • 3h
  • 9/9
    • 2h
  • 9/10
    • 1h
  • 9/11
    • 2.5h
  • 9/12
    • 4h
  • 9/13
    • 2h
  • 9/14
    • 4h
  • 9/16
    • 3h
  • 9/20
    • 3h
  • 9/21
    • 2h
  • 9/22
    • 3h
  • 9/23
    • 1h
  • (day job project)
  • 10/6
    • 1.5h
  • (feeling ill)
  • 10/20
    • 4h

Tasklist

  • Implement a system to better communicate the status of task to the Silver is Gold team