Developers, programmers, software engineers, DevOps, we are all too similar and sometimes it is easy to become one of them. However, we don't want to be just one of them, we want to stand out from the crowd and we want to be the best in class. But the question is, how do we become the best when most of us have similar work experiences and similar qualifications. Well, the answer is actually very simple, it is to become the most productive person and here are 5 tips to help you become just that.
Before working on a problem or developing an application, plan ahead and think about possible ways to solve a problem. There is a saying that failing to plan is actually planning to fail, and this is especially true for developers. Our nature of work requires us to do a proper problem analysis and consider various approaches before actually sitting down to implement a solution. Even spending just 10 - 15 minutes to plan before working on a solution will save us time and effort and reduce likelihood of failure and rework.
Write things down
Any idea, any task, any to-do list, write them down and free our brain as much as possible. When our brain is not cluttered with a lot of things, we will find ourselves being able to think clearly and work efficiently. Being a developer means using our left brain and by freeing our brain up from remembering trivial stuff, it can be used to process more important stuff and make logical and rational decisions with ease.
Emails, chats, forums, Stack Overflow, Quora, Facebook, LinkedIn, they may have different names but they are all distractions to us and will continue to be distractions. Since they are not going to go way, we need to come up with ways to manage these distractions. While social media and chats give us a false sense of urgency, the truth is we don't need to reply to every message or act on every unread notification straight away. If we set some time aside to respond to emails, social media, etc during our day rather than acting on them immediately, we will become more productive and have more time for coding.
Take a break
When we have been working away at our desk for many hours and staring at the same problem, it's time to take a break and recharge. Take some time off computer to go for a walk, grab a bite to eat or even have a power nap. And then come back refreshed and recharged to tackle the problem and look at it again with a fresh mind. Some of the solutions for the hardest problems were thought of when we are not thinking about the problem, for example, when we are in the shower or taking our dog for a walk. Trust me, because Archimedes's famous Eureka moment came while he was having a bath.
This has to be my favourite tip; to be the most productive developer, we need to work smarter and not harder. Productivity is not measured by the total number of lines of code, it is measured by how much work we put in to achieve desired output. Wikipedia describes it as the ratio of output to inputs used in the production process, i.e. output per unit of input. The more we can get done in less time, the higher our productivity is. Being technical people, we have the skills and tools to automate a lot of things, we can use commands, set up programs and write scripts to do things that are repetitive and time consuming. Deployment process? Automate it! Testing? Automate it! File organisation? Automate it! Process workflow? Automate it! Anything we can automate and automate well, there is no reason why we should not.