Spring cleaning for dev teams: tidying up the tools you use most

Cleaning up your digital workspaces can be a huge productivity boost for you and your dev team. Our spring cleaning checklists can help get you started with some easy ways to spruce up your Jira, calendars, Slack/Teams, and GitHub.
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Spring has sprung — more or less. That means blooming flowers and fresh-cut grass. Baseball games and walks in the park. And that classic spring staple: cleaning.

Millions of people around the world take part in spring cleaning each year, either willingly or begrudgingly. If you’re one of the many, you may have already started organizing and decluttering your home. But what about your work?

A tidy workspace can do wonders for productivity, and that includes your digital workspaces. For dev teams, spring is as good a time as any to clean up some of the tools you use each day: Jira, calendars, Slack/Teams, and GitHub.

Here are some spring cleaning tips for you and your dev team.

Organize your Jira

Are your Jira boards a mess? Epics not up to date? Does your backlog keep getting bigger and bigger? Perhaps your Jira could do with a bit of sprucing up. 

First, stop treating your backlog like your junk drawer — you know, that drawer where you stuff all the restaurant menus, batteries, and other junk that you just don’t want to deal with. Issues can quickly pile up. What’s worse, they’re easy to forget, especially the ones at the bottom of a long list of backlog items.

Backlog grooming is an essential part of agile project management. It can help keep those small tasks you’ve been putting off from piling up and being forgotten. It’s all about prioritizing and validating the work.

You can apply the same thinking to overall Jira hygiene across epics and boards. Have you prioritized the right issues? Do your projects still make sense/are they actionable? Has anything been stuck in one column for too long? Look at issues across your Jira workflows to identify bottlenecks and other areas for refinement. 

Jira cleaning checklist:

  • Rank your priorities. Is it important? Do you need it ASAP? Move it to the top of your boards.
  • Prioritize the quick wins. Atlassian suggests addressing lower-percentage items first before jumping into your more substantial priorities. Having some quick, early wins can set the tone for the rest of the sprint. 
  • Add story points based on expected level of effort. It’ll make it easier for you to prioritize and make capacity decisions based on what you can actually accomplish.
  • Add descriptions. An issue sits at the bottom of your backlog: IDK Update. What does that mean again? Descriptions can help remind you what needs to be done, so you can rethink or re-prioritize the task. Context is key.

Declutter your calendars

Do you play a lot of Calendar Tetris? Your schedule is so jam-packed with meetings that you must constantly shift things around — to fit in even more meetings. You move your Monday 1:1 to Tuesday, cut your Wednesday planning meeting by 30 minutes, and double book a new dev interview during a Thursday town hall. Now your calendar is a mess of colored blocks stacked snugly on top of each other, leaving no room for actual Deep Work. 

Collaboration is essential to dev team success, but not at the expense of productivity. If meetings are cutting into your focus, think about making some changes to protect your time and declutter your calendar. Try to get your entire team on board with improving Meeting Health.

Calendar cleaning checklist:

  • Create meeting blocks. Schedule meetings concurrently and combine them when possible to open up longer blocks of time. Aim for blocks of two hours or more for Deep Work.
  • Evaluate your meetings. Think critically about what they contribute — especially ones with long attendee lists. Is the meeting serving its purpose? If not, think about removing, consolidating, or adjusting the frequency of the meeting.
  • Add a Scrum Master. Keeping collaboration high and calendars clean is a lot of work. Consider using a Scrum Master or other team lead to keep meetings up to date and remove the ones that aren’t working.

Scrub your Slack

For many dev teams, Slack is an important part of team collaboration. You ping each other with questions. People share everything from business updates to photos of their pets. There is a channel for just about everything. It’s just a lot to keep track of.

Constant chat interruptions can really cut into your day. Think about the channels you use most or not at all, and consider how you could make things a little more manageable.

Slack cleaning checklist:

  • Review your channels. Identify which ones are/aren’t working for you.
  • Group channels that serve the same or similar purposes.
  • Leave channels you aren’t using. Here’s a hint: if you don’t know what the channel is, get rid of it.
  • Add channels. More channels can be a good thing. For example, if a channel serves multiple purposes, breaking it into two or three functionally-specific channels could help reduce noise.
  • Prioritize channels. Move the ones you use every day to the top of your list. Prioritize other channels accordingly.
  • Apply consistent naming conventions. It will make your channels easier to prioritize and find.
  • Add channel topics & descriptions. So you remember what the channel is used for.

Polish your GitHub

First rule of GitHub cleaning: make sure you don’t have any stuck pull requests. If you’re like our dev team, you stress this point. And at the very least, you should make unsticking your pull requests part of your ongoing maintenance efforts. But there are some other little things you can do to really make your GitHub shine. Let’s jump right into the checklist.

GitHub cleaning checklist:

  • Delete old branches. Are any of your branches inactive? Look through your repository and remove old branches that are no longer relevant.
  • Review old code. Make sure your external libraries and open source materials are up to date.
  • Check documentation. Make sure it exists and is up to date.
  • Perform dependency reviews. Have any of your different dependencies been deprecated? Do they have security flaws? Dependency review can help you identify vulnerabilities before introducing them into your environment.

However you choose to clean and prioritize your work, make sure it’s serving you and your team. If that means ignoring these tips, great! There’s no one way to make these tools work for you. Just be intentional about your changes. Share with your team, and listen to their thoughts on improvements. Make cleaning up your dev tools a regular process that carries into all seasons.

Looking for more ways to get the most out of your dev tools? Learn how Uplevel pulls from the tools you use most to provide actionable insights for you and your dev team. Schedule a demo today.

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