The secrets to optimal productivity are highly sought-after by any professional in any industry. Naturally, they differ depending on the nature of the work – productivity means something entirely different for journalists, athletes, doctors, or in our case, software developers.
Productivity for software developers revolves around several constituent components – the right tools, the right mindset and focus, the ability to dispel distractions, and the ability to organize and divide the work into manageable chunks.
These productivity tips help me personally and I think will work in general for most people:
- Find what connects you to your work. Find a niche that you’re excited about
- Divide your work into 3 levels of priorities: Top, Medium, and Low
- Build a team that cross-checks and encourages you
- Stay in focus by keeping what you want to work on in sight
- Take a 5-to-10-minute break at comfortable intervals. Let your eyes relax and recover
- Dedicate part of your day to yourself – (for example: exercise, reading, etc..)
Let’s look at each of these in more detail below:
Find What Connects You to Your Work
When it comes to productivity, people mostly talk about external factors like social media, smartphones, etc. Those things will divert your focus when working in a niche that you’re not excited about. Your work will not pull you back to it from distractions when you don’t enjoy it. So many people don’t throw light on the passion factor when giving productivity tips. But I want to put this at the forefront of everything. Because a cluttered desk will not matter when you’re fired up for your work. But I can understand that every working person is not someone who has extraordinary, passionate goals. In those cases, try looking at factors of your satisfaction or enjoyment through your work. For example, if you like singing but can’t become a singer, try to do something related, like:
Working in music school and helping others nurture their singing skills
Managing and organizing musical concerts
Contributing to developing music-related products or technology
Divide Your Work Into Three Levels of Priorities
The work we do is of little use if it’s not used or doesn’t hit production. The organization you work for will have production requirements. It would be best to organize your work in sync with the production or publication requirements. Also, there might be some plans to work on some enhancements. Having a sense of priority assigned to your work will be of great help. I propose three levels of priorities. For example:
- Top priority
- Medium priority
- Low priority
Now, dedicate your work hours as per the priority of work you chose. Using this framework, you can have a balanced work schedule instead of rushing to keep up with deadlines.
Build a Team That Cross-Checks And Encourages You
Constructive criticism takes you a long way in your skill development. Sometimes you might get carried away with the work that’s not an immediate priority. You can share your work plans and priorities with your team as per the production requirements. Your team will have a second-person view of your work, matching it with the priorities. If you don’t have a team, try different solutions to have checks and balances like:
Task scheduling applications that send notifications
A white-board with the work plan and priorities written down on your wall
The second thing a good teammate can do is encourage you to work on your interests. Share what connects you with your work with your teammates. To bring the best out of you, ask them to remind you of your interests time and again. If you don’t have a teammate, you can follow the similar alternative solutions mentioned above.
Stay in Focus by Keeping What You Want to Work on in Sight
You’ll get ideas on how to implement or improve your work quality as you brainstorm. Searching on the internet for these ideas will provide ways to implement them. Keep those tabs on your browser open if you’re not working on those ideas immediately. The next time you open your computer, those tabs will remind you to work on them. This tabs trick is a small one but helps you clear up your pending tasks or preserve your ideas for improvement in your work.
Take a 5-to-10-Minute Break at Comfortable Intervals
There is a difference between instant results and long-term stability. When we’re incredibly motivated to work on our ideas, we lose the point that we will get exhausted in a while. It then demands more rest to recover and restore your productivity. I often experienced this by working long hours and facing health issues like headaches and eye strain. So, let your eyes and mind relax, cool down, and regain strength. There is also research backing the point that eyes get tired after continuous screen exposure and release harmful chemicals. So, taking a 5-10 minute break after working for an hour and having some water, stretching, and doing small eye exercises will prevent work from taking a toll on your health. When you’re healthy and rested, you’ll be more productive in the long run.
To implement the breaks effectively, check out the Pomodoro Technique — Why it works & How to do it: todoist.com/productivity-methods/pomodoro-technique
Pomodoro Timer: pomofocus.io/
Dedicate Part of Your Day to Yourself
There is a hormone generated in your brain called dopamine. It takes care of the reward mechanism that keeps you in a happy mood during the day. Whenever we’re happy we tend to be more productive. The happiness from other activities affects your work too. If you’re interested in other hobbies, try to dedicate some time to them daily. As you get good at your hobbies your dopamine releases a happy mood chemical. You’ll try to carry the happiness to your work. You’ll get the confidence that if you get good at a hobby, you can also become successful in your career, increasing your productivity.