Stress and Well-being

I don’t want this post to be confused with me whining about work. Or for me to put anyone off running a business or web development. Instead, I’d prefer for this post to be seen as a safe-haven. Something, where people can maybe relate…

The past 18 months (or so)
For the past 18 months or so, my primary project has been to rebuild a Magento 1 store and relaunch in Magento 2. For most of you, I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth it has taken so long to do this. Firstly, despite it being my Primary project, it hasn’t always been my primary focus. Sometimes other projects can pull away your attention. And this was one of the reasons.

The other reasons revolve around:

  • Having to rebuild a website that used a majority of in-house extensions without the original developer
  • Learning how to use Magento 2 and code “as per the guidelines”
  • Finding competent developers to work with
  • Migrating all data from M1 to M2, despite many of the original in-house extensions being incompatible

A mixture of these points (and more) are what lead to a really long development period. Longer than I had planned.

4-ish weeks ago
It was decided some months back, that we launch the website on the 14th December. (December is one of the quieter periods of the year for us). The launch also included the migration to an enterprise level server provider. Thus creating 2 points of failure for the launch (yey). As you may imagine, being the lead on this project, I was getting incredibly anxious. But with hours and hours of testing and simulations I was more than prepared for the launch (or at least I thought).

On the morning of the 14th December, an executive decision was made to scrub the launch due to too many inconsistencies with the checkout experience.

This delay was incredibly disappointing. However, it allowed the opportunity to fix this issue as well as some other “minor” issues that I was going to address post-launch anyway. The backup date to try again was the 28th December.

2-ish weeks ago
So, it’s Christmas week… And I’d worked every day (inc weekends) for most of December. Albeit, I did take off Christmas and Boxing Day. Now it’s about 3am on the 28th December. I’ve migrated everything across and I’m doing some post-launch checks. I discover that SagePay was not submitting any payment details on the Frontend Checkout. After a couple of hours of debugging - I decided to scrap the launch once more and get some sleep.

During the next 24 hours, myself and my colleague worked on resolving this issue. I then went ahead and launched the website around Monday 31st December at around 3am. Several hours before we “opened for business” (although technically ecommerce stores don’t actually close)

Launch day
I’d managed to get in a couple of hours sleep before starting my shift again at 8am. I wanted to make sure that I was on standby in case any customers/staff had any critical issue to report. Considering what issues we could of had on the day, I things actually went much smoother than expected.

The past week
Knowing that I was going to receive calls/emails with issues over the coming weeks, I set up a “Major”, “Minor”, “Nice to have” system. And I then asked all staff within the company to do the following:

  • Major Issue (You’re unable to do your job or it directly affects revenue): Call me immediately.
  • Minor Issue (You’ve ran into an issue, but you are able to workaround it): Raise a support ticket
  • Nice to have (You’re missing a feature that you used to have or would like): Raise a support ticket

This system that I put in place was amazing. It really helped me keep control of my anxiety, as people did not contacting me directly over anything other than a Major issue. It also allowed me to set expectations for staff who reported an issue.

Between now and launch, I’ve been working on a log of post-launch issues. Luckily, only a couple were classed as “Major”. I suspect that this list will continue to get updated over the next few weeks and eventually fizzle out as everything is addressed.

Where my head is at now
It’s been really stressful for me over the last month. But that kinda comes hand-in-hand with the role that I have. And luckily, it’s an event that doesn’t happen very often.

A couple of reasons behind my anxiety during this was the fact that the business has a high-turnover. So downtime can costs thousands of pounds per hour. And on top of that, without Magento running properly it effects almost every member of staff in the business (from sales to distribution).

My family, friends, colleagues and partner assume that once the launch of the website is done I could relax. Having done server migrations/relaunches a couple of other times in my career, I knew that wouldn’t be the case.

I’m not sure if you’ve been in my shoes before… But when you launch a new website, you sit there in anticipation waiting for the phone to go. You have no idea what the issue will be when the phone goes, but you know it will happen several time over the coming weeks.

This feeling of anxiety does go after a few weeks as things settle down. Right now, I’m really looking forward to February. Mostly, so that I can stop checking my phone every 5 minutes and actually get more than 3 hours of sleep every night :slight_smile:

Luckily, my colleagues have been very positive and extremely forgiving over any issues that have occured. In the past, I’ve found it very easy for staff to get upset of the smallest things. And for that, I’m grateful.

Imposter Syndrome
I recently learned that this was a thing. And knowing that it was a thing, kind of made me feel a little better about myself. So, I wanted to make sure that I shared this with you - In case you ever felt this way (ref):

Impostor Syndrome is characterized by the conviction that you don’t deserve your success. It is the feeling that you’re not as intelligent, creative or talented as other people seem to believe you are. It is the suspicion that your achievements are down to luck, good timing or just being in the right place at the right time. And it is accompanied by the fear that, one day, you’ll be exposed as a fraud.

Impostor Syndrome can be linked to other feelings of self-doubt, such as fear of success, fear of failure and self-sabotage. It often strikes at times that others might associate with success: starting a new job, receiving an award or promotion, or taking on extra responsibility such as teaching others, starting your own business, or becoming a first-time parent.

These feelings can inspire you to work harder, so as not to be “found out,” leading to further success and recognition (and feeling like an even bigger fraud). But often, they lead to “downshifting,” when you revise previously held goals to be less ambitious… meaning that you never fulfill your true potential.

Final words
I think I could have gone into so much more detail about both the events and how I’ve felt over the past month. But I wanted to keep it “brief”. If you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed through similar circumstances, I want you to be able to comment on this post and share what you’re going through. I’ve found that talking to other people who can relate, really helps to lighten the load.

There is a simple way of dealing with all these situations, and that is…GOOD. Here is how to do it:

Seriously though, I think exercise and mindfulness meditation with a focus on the impermanent nature of things are good anxiety and stress busters. Getting more than 3 hours sleep is a must.

I also like David Allens ‘Getting things Done’ methodology.