Being productive at something we all struggle with at some point in our career. As a developer when we start working for a company or a client, most of us get obsessed with coding. We spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen writing the code, fixing the bug, reading about the technical stuff, and trying new things in programming. We enjoy doing it and we spend endless hours in coding even on weekends. A lot of us also start thinking that moving away from our computer simply means we are lazy and we aren’t a hard worker.
It is true about success that if you spend time doing anything you will get better at it but after spending a couple of months or years in coding do you realize that you start burning out and this habit is not sustainable anymore? You spend a super busy day in your office but now you aren’t efficient anymore and you don’t get anything done even after spending your whole day in coding. You stare at your screen confused and tired just wanting to complete one daunting task but no code comes out of your hands. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted and there is no productivity at all.
Programmers know very well that how it feels when they need to write the same type code every time or the same type of command every time. Coding can also be a repetitive job when every day you do a similar kind of task and your job becomes copying and pasting a bunch of stuff from one place to another. You start getting distracted and you start procrastinating a lot of things. You may call it burning out in coding or something else but the truth is your productivity starts decreasing day by day and you aren’t the same developer as you were before. This is a frustrating phase for developers. Today in this blog we will discuss this issue and will talk about some effective and practical tips to increase productivity in coding.
1. Minimize Distractions
Most of the software developers work on so many complex problems and in day to day job they use a bunch of tools, coding platforms, online resources and apps which require understanding at both core and deeper level. They need to stay focused and pay attention to solve complex problems and coding stuff. If they are will be interrupted , it will be hard to get back in the grove and it can take around 15-20 minutes to regain the focus.
Stop wasting time on social media, news, etc. When you’re working turn off all the notifications from your desktop, mobile phones, or other gadgets. It just hinders your focus and decreases your overall productivity. You can take the help of some apps or extensions to limit your time on certain sites or you can also block the websites. Also, try to minimize the tabs or windows open in your browser. You don’t need more than 5 browser tabs, or 5 code windows at a time in 90% of the cases. The more windows and tabs you have open, the more distractions you’ll have, plus more chances of errors in your code.
Read an interesting question here on StackExchange about a topic how to let others know you do not want to be disturbed when working. Create a peaceful and productive environment.
2. Be Less Random
If you’re a freelancer then you should pay attention to this point. A lot of people who are freelancers or work from home or have more freedom in their work are rally poor in planning their workday. Remember that a well-planned structure is really important for success. Even if you work for a company and they give you the freedom to do pretty much everything you want, it’s up to you to structure your workday correctly. Organize your day for everything and structure your work the moment you wake up. It does take a lot of self-control but it pays off to be consistent. Don’t just take things as they come. Try to start working at the same time every day and also take planned breaks at the same time every day. Make a habit to follow a proper routine to stop being random in your work.
3. Don’t Multitask
Multitasking: Screwing up several things at once….
Developers need to add this new definition of multitasking in their dictionary if they want to be more productive. They should always focus on one thing at a time instead of being a multitasking person. Do not review someone else code simultaneously in the middle of writing your piece of code in your application. If you think this will make you more productive then you’re wrong. It is also revealed in some research that multitasking is brutal for your brain. When you try to do multiple things together you need to switch between tasks and it becomes a distraction. Instead of being productive, you will find that you need to backtrack a lot because every time you have to find out where you last left off.
4. Master Your IDE
Developers spend thousands of hours in front of their IDE. It’s one of the important tools and it won’t be a foolish thing if you spend some time in mastering your IDE. You need to know it inside out because any efficiency that you gain using your IDE is going to be multiplied by those thousand of hours that you’re going to spend in front of it. You need to know two things about your IDE…
Spend some time to learn how to use your IDE effectively through some online resources, blogs, youtube channels, or with the help of pair programming. When you do pair programming you get to know some features, some functionality of your IDE you are unaware of, and some efficient way to do some tasks. You can install some plugins or snippets to increase your productivity. Snippets allow you to not keep writing the same code over and over and some plugins such as syntax highlighting make your code more readable and help you with finding the syntax errors easily.
Choose some powerful code editor with solid functionality. It can make your life much easier by automating mundane things like indentation, refactoring, autocompletion, and other repetitive tasks.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
5. Work On the Command Line
When you’re a beginner and learning something new it’s ok to use graphical user interfaces, but once you passed that phase you want to do more complex stuff. Using a command-line is a sign of efficient developers and being a developer you should know the benefits of it. Working with GUIs takes much more time than working on the command line. A lot of beginners avoid using it because of obscure syntax and verbose documentation, but once you learn how to work on the command line your productivity increases tremendously.
One of the good tips working with the command line is to create aliases and custom functions for some commands that you find hard to remember or to shorten very long commands. for example you can create an alias for ‘git status’ (shows what’s changed in a git repository) command…
alias g="git status"
The above line allows you to just type ‘g’ for ‘git status’.
Have you ever observed a non-technical person in your office doing some tasks repeatedly in day to day job? They might have to copy the data from the excel sheet and paste it somewhere manually. Isn’t it boring and dull tasks? Doing menial work in development not just slower the productivity but also it is frustrating and monotonous for programmers. If you do these menial work in your day to day job then you may have forgotten that you’re a developer and you have a powerful skill of coding which you can use to write some programs to automate the tasks which you hate doing repeatedly in your job.
7. Invest Time in Pair Programming and Code Review.
Isn’t the above image really funny??
Efficient developers always want their code to be reviewed by someone else. It allows the developers to check if the application has any bugs or if the code can be improved by using some libraries, methods, or other techniques. This allows the team members to share feedback and knowledge. When you build some application it’s always good to have a second pair of eyes to look over a solution before it goes to production.
Doing pair programming helps in being productive. When another programmer is familiar with your project he/she may suggest some improvement or catch some bugs or errors in your code which you might have missed in your code. If a developer sitting next to you everyday is familiar with what you’re doing in your application then he/she may share the useful knowledge, feedback, or the solution for some problem when you are stuck in your code. You can get feedback even before you start writing the code. That developer can also be a personal StackOverflow if he has found a similar issue before and he already knows how to fix it. This practice not just makes you a better developer but also makes you more productive.
8. Learn New Skills and Work on New Projects
It’s easy to fall out of the habit of learning new things once you get a job as a developer. You get complacent with technologies using at work. your passion goes away and you may suffer later in your job. Work on some side projects and learn new things. This will also keep your minds fresh. Sometimes engineers get stuck in working with one project or working with the same technologies and tools. That makes their job monotonous and frustrating for them. Doing a side project or learning new skill not only help you to grow but also helps you to be more productive in future projects. You can also listen to some podcasts while driving the car, hitting the gym or you can read some books while traveling somewhere. Learning new skills makes you more creative and it brings some new ideas as well.
The most important thing to be more productive in coding is to practice mindfulness. Coding is a huge mental drain and you need to teach your computer how to work for you which is fun but also a complicated job for developers. It takes a lot of energy, patience to be consistent in your job. In programming, productivity comes with practice and time, so initially, don’t try to push too hard. With proper planning, execution, and practice you will become a better developer.