Avoiding Productivity Pitfalls as a Developer
No matter how many projects you’ve completed, or progress you’ve made as a developer, there’s no one secret to perfecting your productivity as a developer. Everyone deals with pitfalls in their productivity. So, I’m here to help you optimize your productivity.
I’ve been working on a project called Flowductive, a personal productivity app. I’ve been studying the different states of the brain, what helps people gain and retain motivation, and patterns that indicate increased concentration during deep work. I’m also a passionate developer, and I’ve spent a lot of time working to optimize my skills for my everyday work.
Over the past few years of learning development, talking to others, and growing as a person, I managed to notice patterns that affect the productivity of myself and the people around me. The biggest thing I noticed is that with the right attitude, one can have a great grasp on their productivity. In turn, they’ll be able to live a more healthy, balanced lifestyle.
So, I’m here to share with you my best ways to avoid productivity pitfalls. If you are mindful about yourself, these helpful tips, and your environment, you’ll likely be very successful in staying motivated!
Optimize Your Space
This is a common tip. But it’s also an important reminder, too. It’s critical that you optimize your space and environment in the way that best supports your work and productivity.
I’m talking the clean-up that you usually never want to do, but should do. Take an extra 10 minutes at the start of your day to organize your space. Your “space” can be anything related to your work, such as
- your office or room,
- your desktop,
- your keyboard shortcut setup,
- your file system,
- your IDE,
- or, the dozens of windows and running applications open.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive by any means. But you get the idea. Organizing your space can help you avoid frustration and wasted time throughout your day.
For example, if you’re constantly searching for a file, you’re going to waste time that could be used more productively. The same goes for a cluttered desktop. A messy desktop can be a constant distraction, pulling your focus away from the task at hand.
By taking the time to organize your space, you can minimize distractions and maximize your productivity.
Having an organized, tidied up space will also give you a healthy, fresh start to your day. It’s like starting with a blank slate. And we all know how good it feels to start with a clean slate. So, take some time to optimize your space. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Take Shortcuts, Automate
It’s OK to cheat. Of course, I’m referring to taking cheats and shortcuts in your computer system. If you find yourself performing a repetitive task, take an extra few minutes to find a faster way.
For instance, I began hating having to move my mouse to the url bar every time I opened my internet browser. Then I learned about ⌘L (^L on Windows), which focuses your keyboard on the URL bar. One less mouse stroke, achieved!
You may wonder why saving 0.1 seconds off something as simple as entering a URL on a new Safari session is a worthy investment of your time. Consider that over time, those little savings add up. They’re also an example of good system design:
- They make you faster.
- They make you more accurate.
- They reduce wear and tear on your body (in this case, your mouse hand).
Moreover, good shortcuts are discoverable. That is, if you invest the time to learn them, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come. The best shortcuts are the ones that become second nature; you don’t even think about them anymore, you just do them.
Of course, there are some tasks that are too repetitive or time-consuming to bother with shortcuts. In those cases, it’s often better to automate the task altogether. For instance, I used to manually export my browser bookmarks as HTML every few months so that I could import them into another browser or share them with a friend. Then I learned about a bookmarking service that does this automatically for me (and more). Now I never have to think about it again–it just happens in the background whenever I add or remove a bookmark.
In short, taking shortcuts and automating can help developers avoid productivity pitfalls. Not everything needs to be done by hand; sometimes it’s OK (and even preferable) to let the computer do the work for you.
Maintain a Good Mindset
This is crucial to getting anything done. A good mindset is more than just being productive. It’s more than feeling ready to do work. Have a good mindset about your productivity reduces to having a consistent and confident attitude about your own ability. It’s a combination of patience, diligence, and planning.
When you have a good mindset, you approach your work with the belief that you can get it done. This doesn’t mean that you think you’re perfect or that everything will go according to plan. It means that you trust in your ability to figure things out, solve problems, and get the job done.
A good mindset also means being patient with yourself. You know that some days will be more productive than others. You don’t beat yourself up when you don’t meet your own expectations. Instead, you focus on the positive and keep moving forward.
Lastly, a good mindset is about being proactive rather than reactive. You plan your work in advance so that you can be as efficient as possible. You know what needs to be done and you have a system for getting it done. This helps you avoid last-minute scrambles and stressful situations.
Remember Your Passion
Being a developer is an amazing occupation. As developers, we can create, learn, build, and grow our projects and passions. It’s important to take mindful time and be grateful for what you’ve already learned and built. It’s also important to make an extra effort in your projects to keep the “spark” alive.
Developing a positive mindset is a keystone habit that supports other habits that improve productivity, like writing code every day or taking time for self-care. A positive mindset allows you to focus on your goals, rather than on your perceived failures.
Some things you can do to develop a more positive mindset as a developer:
- Find your “why.” Why did you become a developer? What are you passionate about? When you remember your “why,” it will be easier to stay motivated when things get tough.
- Focus on your strengths. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Rather than dwelling on your weaknesses, focus on developing your strengths. This will help you feel more confident and capable as a developer.
- Seek out support from others. When we feel alone, it’s easy to spiral into negative thinking. Seek out supportive people in your life — whether that’s friends, family, or fellow developers — who can help keep you grounded and motivated.
- Practice gratitude. Gratitude is one of the quickest ways to shift your mindset from negative to positive. Each day, take some time to think about what you’re grateful for in your life and career as a developer.
As a short bonus tip, I strongly recommend the time-blocking technique. It’s a simple method where you pick a time to start, pick a duration and focus area, and get to work. I use time-blocking to balance my work, mental, and physical health. It’s all coupled together using Flowductive, my time-blocking productivity app. Feel free to check it out, as I’ll be sharing more about Flowductive in future articles.
Thanks for reading! And happy developing! 🥂🔨