No matter which stage of career you are in, managing time and tasks become a matter of utmost priority. Paul Graham’s essay on Maker’s Schedule explains a good way to think about typical programmers vs typical managers schedule.
Beyond this, there is a more specific problem that most programmers battle with intra-project prioritization. You break down a large project into sub tasks and how would you schedule them? Especially if the project is for a client (assuming it doesn’t entail a monolithic purpose to it, since this is extremely rare). For example: it rarely is “Make me a new text editor”
With that said, if you looked into how Operating Systems handle this sort of a thing we can see the various scheduling policies available. In Linux Kernel, there are a ton of such policies:
- Completely Fair Scheduler (CFS)
- FIFO or FCFS (First In First Out)
- Earliest Deadline First or Deadline Scheduling (EDF)
Earliest Deadline First (EDF)
EDF has produces an optimal scheme for minimizing the maximum lateness.
If your goal is to simply minimize the amount of lateness only, then this is it. It is the optimal scheme. However, this has the downside of producing a lot of tasks can be late albeit by a smaller margin. What if you want to optimize for minimizing the number of tasks that are late?
Moore’s Algorithm optimizes for the number of tasks that are late. It does so by first ordering the tasks as per EDF scheme then trying to spot a largest job that results in delaying a later task in the pipeline. It then moves this large job to the end of the queue.
You can break down a big problem into smaller tasks, by simply using the better of these two schemes recursively you have solved your schedule. You have even mathematically optimized your scheduling scheme. Another important, yet underrated benefit is that you have drastically reduced your cognitive load on the planning/scheduling aspect. Instead you get to look deeper into the design and other technical parts of the project.
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