10 Productivity Hacks for Software Developers
Ever wish you had more time in a day? If you struggle to get efficient at work and can’t find the time to fit it all, here are ten productivity hacks that will help you maximise your achievements without increasing the amount of time spent on work.
The key to getting more things done in less time is to focus on quality instead of quantity. Remember that you are paid by the value you bring. While the quantity is still an important measurement, it increases with being more experienced in what you do. Therefore, first you bring the quality, and the quantity goes up progressively.
1. Avoid multiple tabs
Multiple tabs are one of the most common time thieves for software developers. People often find interesting articles and then keep them open for weeks. As a result, they may have up to 50 tabs across 4-5 different browsers.
Remember that your favorite browser is not a place for managing your reading backlog. Instead, use special web or mobile-based tools with boards and put there all articles, videos, podcasts and any other materials you plan to study.
2. Allocate time for daily and weekly planning
Try to plan at least one week ahead. Focus on your top goals and break them down into smaller tasks. For each task, estimate its priority and complexity, and get the most important things done first. Remember to leave some empty slots so that when new tasks appear, you can easily update the plan based on your priorities.
3. Design a plan for learning and development
Continuous learning is essential for professional growth and reaching the next career step. Regardless of experience, there is always something new to learn. But the tricky thing is the abundance of information you have to cope with and digest.
Prepare ahead if you want to be productive. Define your learning goals and revise them at least 4 times per year. Schedule what you choose to learn – it well help avoid jumping from one thing to another.
4. Start with the hardest task
Here is a brilliant advice by Brian Tracy:“Eat that frog!” In other words, start your day with your “biggest, hardest, and most important task”.
We’ve all had those mornings where we start with drinking coffee and checking emails and only then try to tune into the work state. As a result, our enthusiasm is gone, along with valuable time, we could have spent on getting the stuff done.
Instead, create a list of tasks for the day. Prioritising the stuff and choose 3 “most important tasks” that will get the most results (avoid the temptation to knock out the easy stuff first). Pick the worst task out of those three and focus on getting it done first thing in the day.
5. Minimise distractions
Learn to avoid distractions. Even though developing software doesn’t mean you have to look at your screen all the time, it means your mind should be focused on the problem you are solving. Context switching takes time. If you look at every skype message or email you receive while working, you will be significantly less productive.
Create special filters for high-priority and emergency situations, and don’t be afraid to reject people who come to your desk without the intention to solve important tasks.
6. Create batches for everyday tasks
Let’s take emails. Of course, responding to all your messages immediately might be very tempting but as a result, you waste too much time switching from one thing to another. Instead, batch all repetitive activities. For example, decide that you will spend 10-30 minutes twice a day to deal with all emails and other communication.
7. Limit meetings
At traditional meetings, team members wait for their turn to report the project status to the manager. And when other people talk, they either think about what to say or daydream about the upcoming vacation.
If you decide to have a meeting, make sure there is a properly specified agenda, and all participants are committed to using the time effectively and solving the problem (not just discussing it).
8. Review your coding habits
It’s great if you can ask someone else in your environment to have a look at your coding habits. You may receive helpful advice on what you can improve to be more efficient.
9. Don’t forget to follow up
Issues may get blocked if the person they are assigned to asks a question and doesn’t receive an answer. If this happens, wait for a while (respect the usual response time) and then follow up because your addressee may have been busy and have forgotten about your request.
10. Take a break
Software development is a mental activity that requires time and effort. If you work multiple hours without any breaks, it may lead to information overload, anxiety, and lower the quality of your work. Spending 5 minutes an hour on recreation allows to work more efficiently.