Every developer wants to have a productive day of coding where they come up with an optimized solution easily, they are able to write clean code that runs on the first time, the project doesn’t break because of that, and they get appreciation by the fellow team-members.
But that’s not happening to you….right?
Sure, some days are smooth sailing, but most of the days, it seems like ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. You are not able to find the solution, the code is not working, there are new bugs popping everywhere, and that one team-member won’t stop talking.
Being a programmer, you need to realize that this is a normal day at work. Now, in these situations, it is easy to lose your mind over little things, but a better way is to create a structure for yourself and stick to it. Here are some hacks to be productive and keep sanity at the same time.
1. Create Batches For Everyday Tasks
We need to realize that we can’t add every feature, solve every bug, and implement a whole new design, all in a single day. Breaking down your project in smaller chunks is the single most effective thing you can do to boost your productivity. In pursuit of doing everything at once, we end up doing nothing productive.
Create a list of tasks and write them down. Be realistic in the approach and think of 3-4 chunks that are really important to do. Also, consider the time these tasks will take and plan accordingly.
Spread the chunks throughout the day and reflect upon the tasks at the end of the day. You will realize by completing 3-4 important tasks every day consistently, productivity is boosting significantly.
2. Eat The Frog
As the author Brian Tracy famously said “Eat The Frog” — that means, Do the Hardest Task First.
(“Eat The Frog” is a book by Brian Tracy, who talks about effective ways to overcome procrastination and be more productive)
When there is a task which is daunting, but you know that it’s super important and must be done, do that first thing in the morning. If you push it off for later, there will be always a thought of dreadfulness in the back of your mind, all day long. This can severely downgrade your productivity in other areas.
By doing it, first thing in the morning, you are already winning the day, and it’s just getting started. Also, the majority of people are most productive during the morning hours (Read more about this in point number 5).
3. Know Your Framework (Master One Framework)
Being a master in one or two skills is much more valuable as compared to being okay in a dozen skills.
Whatever your programming stack is, try to dive deep. Read the documentation more thoroughly, solve more edge cases, build unique complex projects that will force you to know the technology more in-depth.
By doing that, you will not only improve your skills, but you will be more productive.
4. Take A Break To Solve A Problem
We all have experienced the following phenomenon a number of times in our lives. A situation arises, where you need to think of a name of a person, name of a movie, lyrics of a song, etc that you are sure you remember but it’s not coming out. You think hard for some time and then you give up and move to some other activity.
But all of a sudden, out of nowhere…. It clicks in your brain! Even though you were not thinking about the topic, it seems strange that it came up.
Now the science shows that you were thinking about the topic, not consciously, but subconsciously. When you think about something intensely for some time, and move to the next task, the brain transfers the previous info to the subconscious part of the brain and the current activity info arrives at the conscious part of the brain.
So, even though you are not thinking, you are actually thinking. We can use this to our advantage as a developer. So many senior software engineers use this technique. Whenever you are stuck on something, try to focus intensely for a period of time to solve it. If still stuck, then leave the desk, head out for a walk, listen to music, do any other activity.
When you return after some time or during the break you are likely to come up with some strategy that will help. It’s not like you will always find full proof plans of solving a problem, but this approach is much much much (Yes! That much) more effective than staring at the problem for hours and hours with no clear focus at all.
5. Know Your Most Productive Hours
Research shows that every person has some hours in the day, where they are at their peak performance both mentally and physically. This varies from person to person. That’s the reason why some people feel much more creative and logical early in the morning whereas some people work late at night to produce amazing results.
Every person must know their most productive hours of the day so that they can do big, complex tasks that need more focus and energy than others.
To do that, rate your energy level on a scale of 1 to 10, each hour of the day, for 7-10 days. You will clearly realize the pattern of your body. Leverage this, to be super productive.
Having dedicated time and space, where you can focus on one thing at a time, without distractions, and applying these simple yet effective hacks, is all you need to accomplish your goal. Whatever your goal is, if you measure the progress, you’ll be able to improve it.