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6 Habits That Make You a More Productive Software Developer


The productivity of software engineers is crucial to success. A product is only as strong as the team whose time, intelligence and insight go into it. The productivity of software engineers has a direct effect on the progress of the entire software team.

1. Don’t Rely on Your Memory

Memories are human. They are flawed.  Even the most genius insights are frequently associated with specific triggers (mostly the shower, right?) Once that trigger is gone, it’s much harder to recall what that insight or idea was.  Write everything down. I use a notepad on occasion, but I am religious user of Evernote.   It keeps me organized and its multi-device syncing feature makes sure I always have access to my latest notes. Having an accessible repository of your golden thoughts and ideas is only going to empower you to keep that download of genius going.

2. Streamline Your Process and Remove Friction

It’s important to recognize that software developers are people too, just like the end user of any product.  People are more motivated and productive when they feel like everything is working for them, rather than against them. The fewer interruptions a person experiences during a process, they better able they are to remain focused and productive.

Understanding someone’s process is extremely important to streamlining workflow and increasing productivity. Removing friction is essential to success in everything from internet sales conversions to the development of the website itself. One small bit of irony in increasing software development lies in the need for streamlined processes attained by utilizing the right software development programs.

Reducing friction within the active process of software development also includes the availability of resources necessary for developers to feel empowered.  This can include everything from large enough monitors, to facilitate multiple programs running at the same time, to ensuring a comfortable and calm enough environment in which to work. The less steps between point A and point B, the better.

3. Have Up-to-Date Hardware

If you want your developer’s mental process speed to be state of the art, his or her computer’s processor speed had better be state of the art as well.  Nothing throws off a brilliantly streamlined, in-the-zone mindset like waiting for programs and websites to load. So be sure that suitable hardware is being provided to enhance the mental hardware of your programming team. A spinning color wheel or an hour glass is essentially a subconscious indication of mental break time.

4. Eliminate Distractions (i.e. Meetings)

Distractions includes meetings. Understand the Makers Schedule vs. Managers Schedule and how that affects productivity. Most meetings are unnecessary, so developers should only be attending the essential meetings, and even then, the meetings should be early. Don’t clog someone’s day with a mid-day meeting.  Meetings should always have a pre-set agenda, a firm ending time and release everyone involved with very clear awareness of what their next-steps are.

5. Take Breaks

You can’t work forever and remain productive.  Most useful batches of time run upwards of 90 minutes, max.  So be sure to take adequate breaks every hour and a half, even if only 5 minutes to get up, stretch, grab a snack or caffeine, and then get back in the zone. Time periods are not rigid across the board here. Some people can work very diligently for 45 minutes, max, and some can for two hours.  Learn what your normal cycle is, and maximize your day by ensuring that you have as many of them as possible.

6. Know ‘The Zone’

You know when you’re in ‘the zone.’ You know what it feels like. You know how times flies and how engaged you are in what you’re doing.  All distractions fade away, there is only you and your process, and a whole lot of efficiency and productivity all but handing you an inevitable promotion. Take time to think about what kind of situations lead to this state of functioning. What was your work environment like that last time you were really in the zone? Do all you can to ensure that you can get back to it reliably, and frequently.

When it comes to how you work best, knowing is half the battle. So get at it, G.I Joe.


photo courtesy of wikimedia.com