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Did you know that on average, a developer gets to have only two hours of completely productive sessions in a day?

The life of a programmer is often testing. No pun intended.

Television series and movies have sort of painted a totally different picture of coders with them being wired most of the time, doing coding marathons for straight 48 or 36 hours, living off caffeine or sodas, and more.

Though such people do exist the programmers you and I would meet, on an everyday basis, are nothing like them. They are like us. They have their best days and they have their average days as well.

Like any other job, not every day is the same for a developer. While the routine is obviously the same, challenges vary in intensities each day. So, a developer is always expected to be in their best at any given point of time.

But the reality that we all should acknowledge is that it is not completely possible. No matter what you do, there are days you would feel a little low, a little bored, frustrated, or even dejected for no reason. 

This is the reason why developer productivity matters today more than coding skills. You could be an average coder but if you manage to churn out more lines of code every single day, the chances of you becoming irreplaceable are more.

So, how do you improve the productivity of your developers?

If you’re a project manager, a team lead, or a fellow coder, you might want to improve the productivity of you or your team. But before understanding how to improve developer productivity, we should realize what productivity means in the first place.

What Is Productivity?

Productivity is a very subjective concept and takes various shapes and forms for each individual. If you ask me, not leaving any assigned task pending is my metric for a productive day. For someone else, it could be simply cracking an idea. For a writer, a productive day could be penning 2000 words in a day.

For a developer, it is often the number of lines of codes written and their quality. The essence of it is balance. Too many lines with too many mistakes stall the project. Too little lines but good quality delays the project.

So, a productive developer is one who manages to meet the required number of lines in a day without having to revisit the codes for errors and debugging.

Productive developers are in-demand today because of the impact they create in a project, their focus, dependability, and more. They are also well-paid and tend to have better job security than their less productive counterparts.

Now that we’ve understood what developer productivity is, let’s look at some effective ways to improve it.

10 Effective Ways to Improve Your Productivity As A Developer

boosting developer productivity

1. Work for Fewer Hours

Improving developer productivity by working for fewer hours sounds oxymoronic, right? But trust me, this is game-changing. When you visualize 8 hours a day for your work, you involuntarily tend to plan your tasks for the entire day.

Even tasks that could be completed in a span of five hours are extended for 8 hours. On a lighter day, you tend to spend more time on breaks, surfing, or doing other things. The scope of distraction is more in this case.

But when you assign fewer hours to yourself to complete work, you become laser-focused. You tend to believe that all other distractions, texts, notifications, and even small breaks can wait until you complete your task.

Besides, when the assigned hours are less, you also come up with smarter approaches or solutions to problems. You figure out new hacks to complete tasks and eventually end up doing more than you would otherwise.

Also, starting your day on a good and planned note will also get you to become more productive. These 10 productivity hacks to kickstart your day should be useful to you.

2. Fewer Distractions

One of the primary enemies of a developer is a distraction. Distraction in the form of social media notifications, calls, texts, video suggestions, colleagues, and more. Sometimes, even meetings with pointless agendas and birthday celebrations could also be distractions.

While some distractions are beyond our control, there are a few that we could moderate and reduce. Digital distractions are increasing relatively, causing a decrease in our attention spans. As you start to write a line of code, you would get a call you have to take, a notification that you need to see, a text you need to reply, and more.

These distractions are costing you, your project, and ultimately your company. For those of you who didn’t know, it takes a developer up to 15 minutes to get back to work after a single instance of distraction.

However, the good news is that such distractions can be avoided. There are ample tools available online that allow you to focus on your work more than anything else. For instance, a tool like Freedom does a tremendous job of blocking all websites that cause a distraction to a developer. It offers features like Lock mode that doesn’t allow you to unblock digital aspects that consume your time until you complete your work.

3. Scrum Methodology

An increasingly implemented concept in companies (especially IT) today, scrum is proving to be effective for teams in optimizing code quality, time management, inter-departmental coordination, and more.

For those of you who are unaware, scrum methodology is where the process of developing a product is broken down into fragments of modules. These modules have assigned deadlines called milestones.

Instead of building a product as one single entity or project, teams simultaneously work on building modules that lead to a faster development process. To ensure the deadlines are met and that the process is efficient, scrum masters tend to hold meetings or sprints every week or alternate week.

This is generally the duration within which the milestone needs to be met. Each sprint is followed by product demos or status updates, concerns, and limitations and planning for the next sprint.

To become more productive, we recommend implementing this in your work schedule. You could also speak to your managers about this and have this incorporated in your team. This would help all developers in your business stay productive.

4. Have a Pet Project

Apart from your professional or office work, always have a pet project to work on. This could be something very simple, complicated, or close to your heart. The reason here is to use that as a medium to learn new skills and techniques.

The project that you have to work on in your workplace offers you limited scope for being creative or exploring unconventional methods to accomplish tasks. They are bound by people and processes. But when you have something like a pet project, you get exposed to new information, ways, techniques, tools, and avenues to explore and get familiar with.

These will offer you eye-opening insights that might ultimately help you become better at work as well. Plus, it is always refreshing to work on something else that is not office work. 

Let’s be honest here!

5. The Power of Automation

UX designer working on a project

A lot of experts are seeing automation as something sort of an agent of doomsday. Unnecessary buzz is created around the scenario that automation would result in job losses and that machines would eventually take over the world.

This is futuristic and is not something on the cards for right now. Automation could be a developer’s best friend if one knows how to leverage the full potential of it.

If you’re a coder who has to repeat a set of redundant tasks every day that is time-consuming or have fragments that tend to get repeated, you could bring in automation and let the machine write the lines. Tasks such as compiling code after minute changes or migrating data into databases after small modifications can be automated.

This is a developer productivity hack you can implement to get more things done in your limited time.

6. Implement Gamification

This is a relatively new concept being increasingly implemented in corporations and companies. This is usually brought in to build team players, productivity, and quality among colleagues. But as an individual, you can implement a very basic aspect of gamification.

What you have to do is assign a reward for yourself to motivate yourself to complete a task. This works best when you have a lighter day or have redundant tasks to perform which makes you think you could procrastinate.

But instead of delaying your task, implement gamification by choosing to complete it and going for a reward post-completion. For instance, your goal could be to sit for two hours straight and code and get a cheesecake after lunch as a reward.

It could also be staying away from your phone until lunch or writing error-free codes. Your challenge and reward could be anything that makes your otherwise redundant work more interesting.

7. Get More Familiar with Your Tool

They say when you are assigned the task of chopping down a tree in two hours, you should be spending 90 minutes sharpening your ax. You should know your tool or weapon in and out so you know the best ways to work on it.

Being a coder, you should have a complete grasp of your tool and be aware of all techniques that come with it. Know libraries associated with your programming language and make use of it whenever appropriate. Don’t stretch too much on things you have a relatively alternate solution to.

The more you become familiar with your tool, the better you will know of the different ways to complete one single task.

8. Get Good Sleep

A coder can never be productive if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Irregular sleep or inadequate sleep can bring in a lot of consequences in your everyday life. You would be grumpy throughout the day, you would get zoned out too often, you would become more sleepy post-lunch, your lines would go haywire and you would feel irritated overall.

The best way to avoid these is by getting good sleep. Make it a point to get to bed early and wake up early. Reduce screen time at night and keep binge-watching sessions and social media sessions for your weekends. They tend to deprive you of good sleep and bring in unnecessary anxiety.

Sleep in a dark room and have a good shower before going to bed. Minor changes in your lifestyle can help you improve the holistic well-being of your mind and body.

You should also check out these 5 sleep tips to make your days better.

9. Be Clear on Your Project

employees talking with each other discussing about mental well-being

Sometimes, the frustration or dullness programmers face don’t stem out of lack of interests or personal hindrances but lack of clear project vision and goals. A poorly communicated project specification puts everyone in trouble, especially developers.

When your understanding of your project and its outcomes are unclear, you wouldn’t know what strategy to implement, the right tools to use, and more. As thoughts like these pile-up, they involuntarily tend to make you delay things and feel frustrated.

This is not good for your project and yourself. So, when you are assigned a new project, make sure you have a complete understanding of it from all aspects. Even questions that might seem dumb can be clarified as it only translates to better output.

When you start off on a good note and with a vision of how to go about accomplishing your task, the interest in doing your job will sustain for a longer time as well. You would also feel more enthusiastic about laying hands on your keyboard.

Wrapping Up

Like we mentioned before, the life of a developer can be chaotic. But small hacks and changes can make a lot of difference. These are tried and tested developer productivity boosters that have worked for me, my team, and followers.

All you need to do is follow them starting today or tomorrow if it’s too late already. Apart from these, also have a positive outlook towards life and indulge in things like having a tech or gadget-free weekend, reading books, developing music taste, gardening, and more.

They would allow you to come back on Mondays fresher and open to challenges.

Written By
Hardik Shah is a Tech Consultant at Simform, a leading mobile application development company. He leads large scale mobility programs that cover platforms, solutions, governance, standardization, and best practices. Connect with him on Twitter to discuss the best practices of software methodologies.

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