6 Things WordPress Developers Should Do Every Sunday to Reset For the Week Ahead
When it comes to keeping up with all the necessary tasks related to WordPress development, disorganization and bad habits can set you back in ways that may show through your work.
Even for developers who spend 90 percent or more of their time reading code, that shouldn’t give you the excuse to avoid setting up a solid plan that serves your productivity and keeps you on schedule. At the very least, you should consider doing a few simple tasks every Sunday or sometime before the week starts up again to help you gear up for what’s ahead and get you off to a good start.
The following suggestions are all optional, but they’ll make a big difference in how your run your WordPress development business if you commit to doing them on a weekly basis.
1. Make Sure Your Have Up-to-Date Backups of Everything
Don’t be one of those developers who forgets to do a task as crucial as backing up regularly. Of course, depending on how big your client base or user base is and how much work you do every week, you may need to back up more frequently than once per week, but taking at least weekly backups will make any loss of content or settings less painful should anything horrible happen in the meantime.
Check out How to Backup Your WordPress Website (and Multisite) Using Snapshot for a helpful demonstration of how to get it all done with WPMU DEV’s very own Snapshot Pro plugin, which should only take you about 10 minutes to do. You may also want to check out the 11 Best Free Quality Backup Plugins for Protecting Your WordPress Site while you’re at it.
2. Figure Out What Needs to Be Updated or Cleaned Up
First and foremost, staying on top of performance and speed should be a key priority. And considering how fast the world of WordPress moves these days, it’s pretty much essential for developers to take some time every week to go over what specific maintenance and custodial work should be done to keep everything running smoothing and all your users satisfied.
Get those updates done so you can start the week fresh, or at least consider blocking off some extra time later on in the week if you think you’ll need more time to test out all these updates first in order to ensure they don’t end up breaking anything. You’ll want to consider updating or cleaning up the following:
Old WordPress versions: Having the latest version of WordPress is essential for security, bug fixes, and all sorts of other performance-related functions. If you’ve been lazy about it in the past, check out our piece on Why You Should Have the Latest Version of WordPress for a bit of a reality check.
Old or unused themes or plugins you use on your sites: Just like updating WordPress itself, themes and plugins should be up to date as well to ensure speedy performance and tight security. Delete plugins you no longer use, and make sure the ones you are using are updated to their current versions.
Old, unused, or duplicate code on the themes or plugins you develop: For developers who release their own themes and plugins for other WordPress users, updating and cleaning up the code is absolutely essential for keeping up with WordPress core updates, fixing bugs, and adding new features. Likewise, extra unused code you know you’ve been lazy about cleaning up can slow down loading, so make sure you go in and take care of any anything that may impact efficiency and even your own development time spent navigating files.
Old versions of computer software you regularly use: You do all your work on a computer (or perhaps multiple computers) ,so chances are you’re going to have a bunch of programs that need updating once in a while. From text editors and database management tools, to FTP utility and screen capture, it’s a good idea to do a run-through of all the most important programs you use to make sure they’re all updated before you need to get straight down to working with them the following week.
Any possible security vulnerabilities: You can never be too careful. While updating everything is the first step, there’s always more you can do to beef up security. For example, now might be a good time to go in and change the “Admin” username on all sites you manage if you’ve been putting that off.
Database junk: Depending on how long you’ve been using WordPress, you may even be due for a good database cleanup. Get it done before the week begins, or at least schedule a time for you to follow these 10 Tips for Keeping a Squeaky Clean WordPress (and Multisite!) Database.
3. Plan Out Who You Need to Reach Out to This Coming Week
Whether you’re a freelancer doing his own thing, or a developer who’s part of a huge team of developers and other professionals, chances are there are going to be other people you need to contact for support, to collaborate with, to collect additional resources from, and all sorts of other reasons. So rather than trying to reach someone at the last minute and potentially wasting their time because you weren’t prepared, take the time to get it all organized ahead of time.
Make a list of all the names of the people you need to speak with this upcoming week, along with their contact information and some brief notes or questions. You can even go so far as to write out any emails you plan to send, and schedule them to be sent later on in the week with a tool like Boomerang for Gmail.
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4. Ask Yourself If Anything Can Be Automated
When it comes to working with technology, you have to take advantage of automation if you’re serious bout boosting your efficiency. Give some thought to any of the manual tasks you find yourself having to do more than once and see if you can automate the process with something like Grunt, Gulp, or any other helpful tool of your choice. Your backup routine, if not already automated, is another one to consider.
If you’re a theme or plugin developer not doing so already, consider taking advantage of automatic updates for those that could use them. Although turning them on through your plugin isn’t always recommended since the user should have control over enabling it themselves, the automatic updates may be useful for rolling out small updates and minor security fixes.
It may be beneficial for you to make a list of all your plugins or themes that are worth including a reminder in for users to enable the automatic updating function.
5. Identify Important Points from User Feedback
Failing to address the needs of the users is a big mistake. And the more popular your site, theme, plugin, or other WordPress-related product is, the more often you should be looking at user feedback.
Take at least a few minutes to go through your reviews, forum discussion, emails, blog comments, or however else your users try to communicate with you about your work, and jot down a few of the comments, complaints, or feature suggestions that stand out the most. You may also want to make a note of what the users really love about your theme or plugin, since those will give you hints on what to expand on and improve.
6. Create Your To-do List Using Everything You Determined from Above
Some of the things covered previously can be taken care of immediately as you’re planning for the week ahead, but for those that will require some more time, you can add them to your to-do list for tackling later on in the week. As you go about building your list, consider starting out by writing out everything you can think of first that must absolutely get done.
Prioritize tasks related to things your clients and/or users have already learned to expect from you on a regular basis, along with scheduled calls or meetings and anything needed to fulfill certain deadlines. After those must-dos have been put into your list, you can go ahead and work some of the more routine tasks you determined from this article that needed to be taken care of — like testing new plugin versions, cleaning up code, exploring a new security option, and so on.
Once you have your main key tasks and your maintenance tasks all worked into your list, you can move on to adding anything that may be worth taking a look at or exploring based on the user feedback from the last point. Some of the things your users bring to your attention may even turn into main tasks, depending on how important they really are.
Bonus #7: Come Up with a Few Ideas for Marketing & Branding
If you have someone else that specifically takes care of all the marketing, then you can skip this section. If not, then you it would be worthwhile to spend some time planning out how you plan on reaching more users and keeping your current ones happy — especially if you’re a developer who tends to let the promotion side of your business kind of fall by the wayside.
Consider checking out these 17 Simple Marketing Tips and Tools to Boost Your WordPress Business and possibly even How to Craft Engaging Email Marketing Campaigns for WordPress if you’re serious about providing something that people can find easily and see that it’s worth using.
Bonus #8: Catch Up on Your Favorite Newsletters, Blogs, and Upcoming Conferences
As a WordPress developer, you should be committed to constant learning. One of the best ways to do that is by subscribing to and maintaining a regular habit of checking out what’s new in the world of WordPress by way of other developers who share their expertise on blogs and through newsletters. (BTW, are you subscribed to our daily industry newsletter, The WhiP?)
Of course, nothing compares to actually getting out there to meet and work with others who have tons of development knowledge to share from their experience. Look around for any developer workshops in your local area that you may be interested in taking, and check out the WordCamp website form upcoming events you may want to attend.
It Pays to Get Organized
Every time you turn your attention away from your work because something else needs to be done first in order to keep working, your brain has to take extra time to get refocused again.
With that said, it’s worth getting as much planning and maintenance out of the way before the work week begins so you can focus on your most important tasks.
Do you have any good WordPress development-related rituals you use to refresh for the upcoming week? Share them with us in the comments below.