Eight tips for becoming more productive as a developer

10 months ago I transitioned to full-time remote work. First to help my medically fragile son, and then again for Covid-19 lockdown. This is a list of things that have helped me cope, and still have a good work-life balance.

1. Reduce randomization

  • Try to start and stop work at the same time every day.
  • Try to take scheduled breaks, ideally at the same time every day

2. Reduce or eliminate time-wasting activities

  • Cut down on social media, news, etc.
  • turn off phone notifications.
  • schedule e-mail checking. (limit to once per hour if possible)
  • when checking messages, you don’t need to respond immediately, schedule responses into batches

3. Create a workflow that works for you (or your team)

  • If you work in a team, ensure that you all follow the same workflows as much as possible (Scrum, Kanban, etc.)
  • if you are a solo developer find what works for you ans stick to it
  • Constantly review your workflow patterns to ensure that they are working (keep doing what works, change what doesn’t) don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Create and follow a template or framework that works for you
  • Acknowledge that all projects are different and have different needs
  • Work in the smallest possible chunks of tasks
  • automate what you can

4. Use good project management tools

  • Find the right tool for you.
  • Do NOT try to keep everything in your head. You will fail.
  • Simpler is better
  • Don’t rely on ephemeral systems (e-mail, SMS, etc)
  • Your goal should be able to quickly create or find tasks and plan your work
  • Find something accessible:
    • Something cloud based and accessible whenever you need it is great
    • Don’t rely on local systems dependent on network availability, or prone to failure.
  • For larger team projects I use Jira or TFS (Azure DevOps). Github is perfect for solo work, smaller teams, or Open Source projects.

5. Use tools to help you code faster

  • Learn your code editor shortcuts, snippets, etc.
  • Find plugins to help you (I love Resharper for C# or RedGate tools for SQL, but your opinions may vary)

6. Take breaks

  • Overworking can cause burnout
  • Take at least one 15 minute break every 1-2 hours.

7. Minimize distractions

  • Set limits and boundaries with co-workers or family members to avoid interruptions.
  • Create a peaceful and productive work environment

8. Always seek to improve

  • Learn new things every day
  • Keep your passion for what you do
  • invest in yourself and your career
  • Dedicate time for learning.