Productivity hacking: 7 developers share their best tips

by Liz Warren
March 29, 2018
developer
image via shutterstock

Productivity can be a struggle for a professional in any role, but it’s especially challenging when you’re expected to create new products on a regular basis. That’s the case for developers, who are responsible for building and managing customer-facing products every day. We talked to developers on seven different teams, and they all shared their best tips for staying productive and efficient.

Viola Pirri
Senior engineering manager

At Justworks, Senior Engineering Manager Viola Pirri manages a group of engineers responsible for the company’s HRIS product features. She explained that productivity starts with your attitude.

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

By staying positive. I remind myself why I’m doing a particular task whether it’s for my team member or to help make our customers’ lives easier. Outside of work, I lift weights. Since college, I have always enjoyed getting my morning workouts in. I do this five-to-six days a week and I feel energized the rest of the day. I am also passionate about volunteering in the NYC tech community. I help run NY Women in Tech, a Meetup group that helps women make meaningful connections.

Any advice for fellow developers?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are resources out there willing to help, whether it’s at your workplace or in the tech community.   

 

 

Daniel Vaughn
Full stack web developer

At White Ops, Full Stack Web Developer Daniel Vaughn is responsible for building and maintaining its client-facing dashboard so customers have a fast and intuitive way to access their analytics. He explained that it’s the small things that have the biggest effect on your productivity.

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

It’s the small things that matter most — particularly, the seemingly trivial. I have: one, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, two, a chair with great lumbar support and three, I drink a ton of water throughout the day. These three simple things will do more for your work ethic than any other life hack.

Any advice for fellow developers?

Whoever founded your company is pursuing their dream, not yours, so figure out how your own dream fits into theirs and you'll have all the inspiration you could ever need.

 

 

Andrew Lim
Data scientist

Data Scientist Andrew Lim works at Custora, which generates insights and predictions based on a customer’s data and presents findings in a web-based dashboard. He works on the statistical part of the code, explores different modeling approaches and develops the back-end infrastructure. For him, the key to staying productive is to never multitask.

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

I'm not a multitasker; switching my train of thought is costly. I usually have one main project that I think about at a time, and I keep low-urgency side projects for when I need a break. These are typically small things in our code I've always wished for but haven't been able to prioritize. If I am in a productive spell, I avoid responding to messages (either work or personal) unless they truly demand immediate attention. I stay logged out of social media by default, and I set my phone alerts to low-priority levels.

Any advice for fellow developers?

Always leave time in your week for reading, learning and trying things that are not related to your work.

 

 

Alberto Huerdo
iOS developer

IOS Developer Alberto Huerdo is responsible for adding new features to the Roomi app, proposing implementation strategies and supporting requirements from other teams. He told us the key to staying productive is to prioritize tasks accordingly.

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

I try to work out every morning, as it gives me energy throughout the day. I also make a list of my daily goals and try to stick to it. Also, it’s common to get requests for smaller tasks throughout the day that aren't in my plan, so for these I follow the “two minutes rule.” If I’m 100 percent sure I can complete the request in less than 5 minutes, I do it, but if I need more time and it’s not urgent, it goes to the pending list.

Any advice for fellow developers?

Get out and talk to people.

 

Carlos Beltran
Software engineer

Software Engineer Carlos Beltran is responsible for writing clean, modular and maintainable code for several projects at Aircall. To stay productive and clear any creative blocks, he has one strong suggestion: Consult a bobblehead.

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

I keep a notebook at my side so that I can jot down quick notes regarding whatever problem I’m currently trying to solve. There’s also the concept of the “rubber duck” in programming — basically, you have an object at your desk that you consult when you’re stuck on something. In my case, it’s a bobblehead from the Fallout game series.

Any advice for fellow developers?

I’d say find something that interests you and makes you curious again — whether that’s a new framework, platform or technology.

 

Travis Vander Hoop
Developer consultant

At Stride Consulting, Travis Vander Hoop works as a developer consultant, programming with the team and advising them on best practices — and he has some productivity tips for developers across the board.  

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

My productivity hack is stepping away from my computer. The moment I come upon a non-trivial design decision, I put my machine to sleep, write down any high-level approaches that I can think of in my notebook or on a whiteboard and then I take a short walk. Often, the time away surfaces possibilities that never would have arisen had I continued to stare at my monitor.

Any advice for fellow developers?

Use mundane tasks to your advantage by practicing something you're actually excited to get better at, whether that's becoming more proficient with your text editor, practicing strict TDD or automating the task outright using a language you're interested in.

 

Tapley Stephenson
Software engineer

As a software engineer at Call9, Tapley Stephenson helps build technology used to treat elderly patients in emergencies. He recommends people invest in helpful tools for avoiding distractions.

How do you stay productive throughout the day?

I’m most productive when I can focus deeply on a task, so I use tools that minimize distraction. My favorite tools are my noise-canceling headphones, an ErgoDox EZ keyboard, Spotify for music and Vim configuration. If things go well, I can code for hours without realizing any time has passed. If I get stuck, I go for a walk and then try again.

Any advice for fellow developers?

Find a community you want to serve and then make something people want — the rest is just details.

 

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