These days, improving developers’ productivity is a hot topic for many reasons. Mostly because the industry is growing at an exponential rate. But even though the number of software developers is getting higher, the amount of work that needs to be done isn’t all that far behind. Because of this, managers and business owners expect more and more of their IT workforce. At the same time, this type of job requires a lot of mental effort and it can sometimes be hard to keep up with these expectations.
This is why you, as a developer, should always strive to work more efficiently, rather than just working more. Luckily for you, you can find plenty of tips and general advice for improving productivity specifically dedicated to developers. We have written about this topic on our blog in the past, where we included tips such as automating your tasks, gamifying your office time, using the right tools to make your job easier, and many others, but we found it such a deep, inspirational and important topic that we took it upon ourselves to dive into it one more time. This time around, we’ve come up with some additional, new and more developed advice on how to improve developers’ performance and efficiency.
With that said, let’s get started right away!
This is more of a general productivity tip than specifically for developers, but it definitely can’t hurt to reiterate it here because it’s something that a lot of employees stumble upon. And yet, it’s so easy to correct and get back on the right track.
So, let’s see how closely we got this: you come to work, knowing that you have an important feature that you need to work on developing and a minor performance bug fix left from the day before. But the first thing you do is check your email and, seeing that you have 7 new ones in your inbox, you go: “Well, I might as well handle this now while I’m still up for it - later I’ll be stuck coding and forget about it”. But the thing is - that’s exactly what you should do. Forget about menial unimportant tasks. At least while you’re “still up for it”.
For optimal performance, you should prioritize all your tasks and then do the most important ones when you’re most productive. This is one of the reasons why using productivity reports for employees is so important for boosting your efficiency. They can show you what your most productive time of day is. So, if you see that you’re most focused and productive in the morning (which is true in most cases), that’s when you should do the important coding assignments that require a lot of concentration and cognitive effort. Menial tasks like answering emails should be left for the end of the day when you’re tired and low-performing anyway, since they don’t require as much investment. So, at the beginning of each day, prioritize and devise a plan of action. And have your productivity reports for employees ready at hand.
2. Take Breaks
As we’ve mentioned on a couple of occasions now, developers’ job takes a lot of mental investment - all the coding, problem-solving, creativity and thinking take their toll on your productivity levels. And that’s perfectly normal. It’s always better to embrace these dips in productivity and take a break to regain focus than to force yourself to continue working ineffectively.
This is another instance where productivity reports for employees can really help you. You can see when during the day you tend to be less productive and allocate that time slot to a short break. During these breaks, try not to think about coding or other tasks, but instead do something completely different to take your mind off your job and allow it to recharge. After a while, you won’t even need to consult your productivity reports for employees - taking a break at certain times will become a refreshing part of your routine.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Pen and Paper
Just because you’re a developer, it doesn’t mean that all you have to look at all day long, for any purpose, is a computer screen. For an effective workflow, you should take your eyes away from the screen and into the 3D world from time to time, just to rest your eyes and gain a fresh perspective.
For developers, it’s a good idea to plan and design your solution before you get yourself knee-deep into coding. Use good old pen and paper for this stage. Not only will you change your visual surroundings a little bit, but structuring your thinking process in the way other than in terms of lines of code will help you get more creative and make your thinking less linear. When you plan the solution this way, the execution will go much more smoothly.
Another way you can improve your performance and efficiency as a developer is by recognizing when you’re stuck. You can’t solve every problem, at least not on your own. So, instead of wasting enormous amounts of time bashing your head against the wall because you will in some way ‘disappoint’ yourself if you don’t solve the problem on your own, use your colleagues or online resources and communities in order to get some new perspective and opinions.
Even just explaining the problem to a fellow developer will help you come to a solution, because it will force you to reconsider the problem from the ground up and see what you’ve been missing.
5. Make a Three-Month Plan
And finally, if you really want to take your performance under control, a good advice is to make a short-term plan that you can then track. So, get a notebook, whiteboard, or an app, and assign tasks to yourself. For example, apart from productivity reports for employees, time tracking apps also give you an option to track your time on tasks, which could be useful on a small scale.
So, start by devising some big challenges that you want to accomplish in three months’ time. They don’t have to be strictly job-related, they can also be about your general performance and productivity. Then, think about which small tasks you can set yourself in order to accomplish these goals. There are many strategies that you can adopt for making these plans, such as timeboxing and OKR. Then, you can track your progress, tick tasks off and in three months you’ll have another, more refined plan for where you want to take your performance in the future.
A lot is expected of developers these days, but if you take on more than you can manage, you’re quickly going to burn out. Whether you use productivity reports for employees or just plan your day a little better, you need to strive to improve your efficiency, because as the saying goes: if you want better results, you shouldn’t work harder - you should work smarter.