How to become more productive in development and life

How to become more productive in development and life

At the beginning of the year, many people set important goals for themselves, imagining in bright colors what they will try to achieve in the next 365 days. To reach a new professional level, to become a more sought-after, highly paid developer – these or more private work goals are also usually on the list. In this post, we’ll share the small steps you can take to get closer to them.

Next, we will divide useful techniques and habits according to the areas to which they belong.

State of flow (“being in the moment”)

During the working day, we always have many temptations to distract ourselves from work. Even those without a diagnosis of ADHD struggle mentally to switch their attention to something else. Often this is directly related to work: here you write the code, here you see that you need to fix the CSS, here you start looking for a better way to do it … and come to your senses in an hour at a distance of a dozen tabs from the work window. A fleeting desire to see, for example, what’s new on Twitter, can lead to the same result. The reason for such behavior may also be that you have reached the most pleasant item on the to-do list – for example, to call or write someone a letter.

An easy way to maintain focus is with focus mode, a feature that has long been built into the Mac OS. A crescent moon icon is provided for it on the keyboard and in the system. You might think that this is some kind of night mode that reduces the blue component in the picture and lowers the brightness. But in fact, it is a flexible tool for limiting external stimuli.

Of course, after such periods of focus, you might be shocked at how many notifications you miss. But how much did you manage to do while they were gone! Nevertheless, approach such a focus sensibly and leave room for emergency contacts – wife, children and others.

In limiting yourself, you can go even further and install programs that limit access to certain resources during a given period of time – up to the complete exclusion of other activity, except for work.

Focus — an example of a limiter program with a simple interface and a bunch of settings, including full customization of scripts. Instead of blocked pages, Focus offers quotes from famous people. Available for Mac only; for other OS, you will have to look for analogues.

Event reminders

The difference in the approach to reminders is visible from the very morning. To wake up, some set dozens of alarms at short intervals, others get up immediately after the first one. They have a hard time in one bed. It’s the same with meeting reminders: some people need one reminder, others need several. Fortunately, many calendars today take into account habits and the second group, allowing you to set more than one reminder before each event.

This is what reminders look like Notion Calendar. Yes, knowledge now has a built-in calendar, which can be useful if you actively use this tool.

Development of habits

To consolidate skills, there is a whole class of applications in which you record your progress and receive virtual rewards. Do not use them to track already formed skills, such as brushing your teeth twice a day – it makes no sense. But if you suddenly decide to take up something new, then a good habit tracker, convenient and with a well-thought-out gamification system, will be appropriate.

You can choose Streaks as a habit tracker. The program is paid, but it is available on at least all devices of the Apple ecosystem.

At first, it can be difficult to close “marathons of habits” with the help of such applications, and during this period you can be motivated by virtual rewards. But gradually new patterns of behavior will become more familiar to the brain than the old ones and will develop into new habits. Combined with a focus mode that protects you from distracting behavior patterns, habit trackers can make a noticeable improvement in your life in a matter of months.

To-do lists

If you feel that you are losing control over life and are not achieving sufficient efficiency, it is worth thinking about global changes in the approach to your resources. You can try, for example, the technique Getting Things Done; presented at the beginning of the century, it still collects positive reviews and is updated by the author.

If you just need to better track your activities, a good app might be enough for that. On the Mac, the Things app is very popular and is praised for its integration with Siri.

With such a price, some kind of demo mode and built-in purchases would still be appropriate.

The simplest option is, for example, a web application Height. It is free for small teams, there is a restriction only on the use of automation-type AI features (we have already seen such an approach in Notion). Either way, the best task tracker is the one you’ll actually start using. A paper notebook may be sufficient for some, but in this case there may be difficulties with tasks that require returning to them for some time.

The principle “eat the frog” is connected with the planning of affairs. It can be explained as follows: you need to eat a frog (do the least pleasant thing), otherwise the frog will eat you (you will procrastinate all day). All else being equal, prioritize tasks in order of decreasing anxiety. Once you complete the first task on this list, you will immediately feel relieved, your mood will lift, and it will be easier to tackle the rest of the list.

The power of the calendar

Despite the abundance of trackers and to-do lists, the good old calendar remains the most important tool for staying focused. It is the calendar that tells your colleagues that you are unavailable at a certain time. And it is the calendar that tells you what to do at this time. Try to use the calendar not only for meetings, but also to plan your own activities. Set aside slots for answering mail, for focused work, for planning. Sometimes, managers don’t understand that you need long, uninterrupted periods of time for quality coding. Then capture them yourself! Tight planning of meetings will also help in this: try to keep the time between them as short as possible, and then you will be able to have more time for your own tasks.

More screens mean less performance?

A controversial statement, but why not give it a try? We’re used to seeing developer workstations with three displays, but one of them is dedicated to entertaining background activities. Of course, this is not as dangerous as YouTube on the phone at the wheel of a taxi driver, but it is tempting to get distracted with a similar configuration above. Maybe you should try working in tabs on one screen?

By setting up quick swipes, you will be able to lose focus less when switching between windows. Also, fine-tuning the interface of working applications can help here: just remove icons and tabs that are not used. Pay attention to the extension of your IDE, where you can find something to improve the UX.

Getting started is the hardest part

Habit trackers, focus tools, and most of the tools touched on in this post are, to varying degrees, aimed at making it easier for you to start doing something. Once you learn to overcome this mental barrier, you will immediately feel how much your productivity has improved.

We’re very interested in learning what productivity and life-enhancing techniques work for you. Share them in the comments 🙂

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