‘Focus on being productive instead of being busy.’
Many of us today confuse ‘ busy’ with ‘productive’. Being busy simply means that you don’t have much free time due to a great number of tasks of the worklog that you’re trying to do. Being productive is when you do quality work to finish your important tasks or get closer to the goal.
Being a programmer instantly means that you have a lot on your plate but if you spend too much time reading through emails or iterating repetitive tasks, you can end up just ‘ being busy’ without much productivity to display.
How can you get more productive as a developer instead of being just ‘busy’?
Tip 1. Know When to hit ‘Pause’
Writing codes can really get intense especially when coding for multiple hours in a row. After a while, you’ll find yourself staring at the screen not knowing how to solve the problem in front of you.
Productivity is not the same as the number of hours spent behind the screen – staring aimlessly at the screen can give you a false sense of productivity yet don’t get fooled.
You should clear your head for a few minutes as it will surely revive your focus. You can stretch your legs with a short walk, exercises or a dance or just bring yourself some food or water to move from a dead spot.
Once you get back to the same problem, you will have a fresh perspective whilst you do some other everyday task.
“Sometimes it’s better to leave something alone, to pause, and that’s very true of programming.”
Tip 2. Automate where possible
Every job in the world has some parts of the work process that are very repetitive and programming is no exception. Depending on the work task you do, you can also automate some part of the programming process.
Automation can help you spend less time doing manual and time consuming things. Firstly, you need to devote some time to create the script to automate a certain task but in the long run, it will help you more than you thought.
Automation is not important only for saving you some time of manual work but it also helps you not to break your focus when doing something important or urgent.
Automating certain parts of the work process will definitely help you to focus on more important tasks as the automation will take care of the tedious tasks.
Tip 3. Prioritize
This sounds rather boring but not all of your tasks are critically important so don’t treat them like they’re the same.
Your most important tasks are the ones with responsibility to create the most critical results you should accomplish.
All it takes is: Identify your most important tasks and do them first.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks – create a to-do list and prioritize your daily tasks.
Build a discipline of scheduling time to work on your priorities – do that prioritized task FIRST in the morning.
Don’t multitask: focus on a single task at a time, and complete it before you move onto the next task.
Sometimes it is okay to help your coworker and share the burden of a complicated task however, don’t hang on to it for too long.
Finish your most important tasks before reading or answering emails and phone calls.
Tip 4. Create a Plan Before Coding
No matter the type of task you need to do, brainstorming and planning will help you to stay focused. The result is knowing exactly what to develop and which approach is the best for solving the problem.
This allows you not to add some unnecessary features you think can be useful in the future.
Prior to starting to code, make sure you understand all the requirements clearly – you need to understand exactly what you need to build as smallest details can have a huge impact on the solution you’re trying to implement.
Once you’ve done this, start making a plan by breaking your problem or feature down to smaller pieces.
Take into account the potential problems you’re going to face and do a short research to be on a safe side.
Be strategic with your tasks: analyze any problems with your productivity and come up with solutions.
No matter whether the application is simpler or more complex, planning will save your time and spare you any unnecessary negative effects.
Tip 5. Learn New Tools
You are what you code – and the tools you use define your workstyle or work signature. Although you’re the expert or even a master of the tools you use, you should spend some time learning new tools you’re interested in.
Developers have their focus area and accompanying tools along with it. The tools you may need are completely different for every developer – Java developer uses different tools that a Python developer etc.
Put some time and think about the tools you’d like to know more about and which are available. Always look for the tools that can reduce the amount of the manual or repetitive work you do.
If you keep your mind fresh with a new tool, it will help your reasoning to stay sharp and quick which is essential when trying to resolve an issue.
Tip 6. Cut Yourself Off From Social Media
The last but quite important tip to increase your productivity is to cut yourself out from social media – the only reason is that social media is a huge distraction.
Social media feed has no end – once you start scrolling, it becomes an endless story. You can do it every 15 minutes checking if anything new, but it just shifts your focus and drains your wit which you can use to resolve some issue at work.
If you aren’t careful, social media will suck up a lot of your time. Each time you get distracted (by social media or other) it takes double more time to retrieve your focus and meanwhile no work is done.
Being a developer, try to develop your social media skills and only dive into social media feed once you hit a break. When you master your social media discipline, you will see that this tip might even be the one that can increase your productivity the most.
A productivity increase takes time so do not expect to see huge growth in a short period of time. Focus on one item at the time and you will see yourself getting more productive over time.
It is okay if we don’t do everything in one day. Don’t be busy all the time as it does not mean necessarily that you will get more work done.
Keep in mind that being busy is a form of lazy thinking and meaningless action whilst being productive is being efficient in building the problem solutions.
Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.