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Use the full power of Your Brain to be a Better Developer 🧠❤️👩🏻‍💻

sarthology profile image Sarthak Sharma ・7 min read

I'm going to tell you the recipe for a pill that will increase the power of your brain.

Well, NO! Not that kind of pill.

Also, this post is not about meditation.

But in fact, in this post, we will discuss some simple yet effective tips to use your brain to achieve more in your Development career. So let's get started.


The human brain is a complex machine and it's a result of thousands of years of human evolution. Our world has evolved very fast. For the brain, being such an old machine, working in today's complex and distracted world is very hard. But if we use our brain as our ancestors did, we can use most of it. The following steps will help you achieve that.

Focus

tdlr

Our brain can focus efficiently on one thing at a time. When our ancestors used to hunt, they needed extreme focus. They couldn't risk focusing on anything other than the animal they were about to hunt. For them, it was a matter of life and death. The only way they would shift their focus was if they got attacked by some bigger predator, because that became a more immediate threat to their survival, and hence, took higher priority.

Similarly, when people in other professions enter their workspace, it's a completely different world. Take the example of a composer in his studio or mechanic in his workshop. Their workspace has tools just to perform a specific task and that's their work. You won't see a guitar in a mechanic's workshop even if they happen to know how to play one. And that's no coincidence. It's to make sure they have no distractions and can focus on the task at hand.

In case of software developers, the room where you sit in is not the workspace, but your laptop is, and it looks something like that ⬆️.

We have all the tools there, but along with those tools we also have tons of other distracting things that have nothing to do with our work. These apps are great at distracting you from work and giving you instant gratification. That's the reason you start working on bug #396 but find yourself watching cat videos on YouTube after two hours.

How to Improve Focus?

1. Use as few apps as you can

  • When you are developing, you only need a text editor, terminal and browser most of the time. Shut down that email client of yours for a while, mute Skype, Slack or any other messengers you use, and try to open as few tabs in your browser as you can.
  • I have also seen another approach which is to make a separate user account on your laptop: one with all your work-related apps and one with all the other stuff. Let me know in the comment how well that works.

2. One task at a time

  • Dedicate yourself to one specific task at a time and block that time. Don't do anything else or allow any other person to disturb you in that time.

  • Use Pomodoro Technique to achieve that. Set a timer and get hustling to crack one task a time.

3. Choose your music wisely

  • If you have premium YouTube and/or Spotify accounts, that's fine. If not, use offline music. In that way, you won't get distracted by ads and your music will also help you get into the zone.

  • Play YouTube mixes instead of one song at a time. Going back and forth changing music is super distracting and is often an unnecessary time sink. Remember you're a developer, not a DJ.

  • Listen to non-lyrical music. This is debatable but studies show that non-lyrical music is far less distracting than lyrical music. If you don't know any good instrumental music, check out this this repo, and if you already know some, don't forget to contribute.

4. Put that phone down

  • Mobile phones distract you the most. Put your phone on silent or flight mode while working.
  • Manage your phone's notification settings well to make your phone less distracting. Check this guide out for more tips on that.
  • Use a secondary phone for your workspace. I have personally tried and found it very effective. Read this article for more info on that.

5. Track distraction and get rid off it

Do this little experiment the next time you get distracted. Observe what stimulus lead to that distraction, note it down, and then rid your workspace of it.

Remember

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You can't remember everything and you don't have to. Although thanks to the internet, we all are bombarded with lots of information that we process every day and we don't remember most of it. The best way to go is to organize information with the help of meta information. It's a simple technique that our ancestors used for directions as well. Before we had powerful GPS and even maps, it was hard to remember the exact path to some place, so they used the directions of the stars to point the way for them, and that's a great example of storing meta information.

Writing things down also helps and the best way to do that is to keep a journal. You don't have to remember simple things all day, like taking your dog for a walk or cleaning the garden. Just write it down somewhere you can check later. That way, your brain won't be bugging you every minute to remind you of something that you have to do hours later.

Last but most important is to consume less and apply more. You have to be an action-based person to learn better. Our brain learn more by applying our raw knowledge. That means stop just watching 2-hour long Javascript tutorials and pause in between to actually write the code and execute it. You'll learn better and retain way more information than way.

How to remember better?

1. Organize bookmarks

  • Don't just bookmark sites and important links. Make folders to organize them so that it's easy to find what you're looking for.
  • If you are using some other tools like Pocket, then use relevant tags to store them.

2. Save code snippets

  • Make a habit of storing important code snippets and remember the shorthand for them. Remember the metadata, that's the key.
  • Check this post out to learn how to use code snippets effectively in VS Code.
  • Tell everyone how you store your code snippets in the comments section below.

3. Use official documentation more than Google

  • I can't tell you how important it is to master this skill. Documentations are the most organized form of information that you can get out there. While learning any language or framework, spend some extra time on official documentation as well.
  • Use tools like DevDocs to access these documentations offline on the go.

4. Go analog and write it down

  • In my latest discussion, I have talked about the importance of having a journal and using it. If you haven't started it yet, this is the right time. You remember more by writing more. Check out this guide on how to start your first journal.

5. Just do it

  • Stop spending more time on just reading and watching tutorials. Stop in between, test the code by writing and then move forward.
  • Start your first Open Source app. Yes, do it. No one will judge you. Think of an idea and start writing your first line of code and learn as you go. If you don't have any idea, go with the plain old to-do list for yourself. Remember, your own experience can teach you more than any book out there. Because experiences are hard to forget.

Healthy Brain

Most obvious section of the blog is here, yay! Like any machine, our brains require maintenance too. Although your brain's health is dependent on the overall health of your body, there are a few actions you can take to improve the health of your brain.

How to improve the brain's health?

1. Get enough sleep

  • While you are sleeping, your brain processes and stores information for future use. If you sleep less than an optimal amount, your brain won't be able to do that and will fail to retain enough important information.
  • Use 90 minutes sleep cycle technique to get a night of better sleep.

2. Drink more water

  • Well, of course, the brain is made up of water mostly so you should consume more water to keep it healthy.
  • Drink at least 2-3 liters of waters as it's also good for your eyes, as explained in this articles and other body parts.

3. Work out daily

  • Doing exercise will provide more oxygen to your brain. More oxygen means more energy for your brain.
  • Studies has shown that individuals who work out daily have better productivity than those who don't.

4. Eat healthy

Here is a list of things that you should include in your diet to improve your brain power. My favorite is walnuts, quick and easy snacks to carry along to your workspace.

  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Coconut Oil
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Egg Yolks
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Green, Leafy Vegetables
  • Rosemary
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts

5. Start meditation
(Tricked you, ha!)

  • Relax, you don't need to go pro. Start with this simple exercise.
  • Sit in a quiet place, plug-in earphones, play some natural sounds like beach, forest or a windy mountain. Now, imagine yourself sitting in that terrain. If imagining is hard, just try to focus on the various sounds. Do this for 10 minutes a day and don't let your surroundings distract you. If that happens, just bring your focus back as soon as you realize your mind is wandering.

Hey guys, hope you liked this article, and if you did, share it with your friends and colleagues to help them too. If you have some more tips, share them in the comments section.

I have more great content ready for you all this year, so don't forget to follow. Also, if you want to get rid of your phone addiction, check out my articles on Medium. Good day!

Discussion

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yannis182 profile image
Yannis

Thank you very much for the tips, I really enjoyed this article!
To boost my productivity, organization and store my code snippets I use the app boostnote.io ! It’s like a Evernote for programmers, totally free and open source

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Nice app Yannis. Thanks for sharing. 😊

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Excellent tips! I use most of these already, and I can guarantee they work.

Depending on my mood, lyrical music sometimes helps me focus better, strangely. (RED is one of my favorites.) That said, I just contributed some of my favorite instrumental albums to your soundtrack repo. (Seriously, go listen through Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, Andrew Seistrup, and Aaron Mist on FreeMusicArchive. Unbelievable stuff!)

I detailed some of my distraction-busting strategies in Attack of the Focus Leeches, which mirrors many of these tips.

Unfortunately, Hamster Time Tracker, which I used to rely on, is something of vaporware now. Time to build my own, I suppose. ;)

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks for sharing awesome those soundtracks. 😊

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ambroseus profile image
Eugene Samonenko

Throw out alcohol from your life

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Damn, totally forgot that one 😂

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louissaglio profile image
Louis-Saglio

Why am I reading this instead of working on bug #317 ?

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selahattinunlu profile image
Selahattin Ünlü

This one is the best comment lol :D

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

😂😂

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i_ankurbiswas profile image
Ankur Biswas

Great article. I already followed some of these methods and I can definitely say that it did boost up my productivity. Like:-

  • I always found non-lyrical music is the key to focus better. That soundtrack repo already got my favourite soundtracks that I listen most often.
  • I always prefer the official documentation over Google.
  • I use journal for my ToDo's.
  • Use Pomodoro Technique. (not often)

I'm definitely going to try:-

  • Saving code snippets.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Work out daily.
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soosoo7 profile image
SooSoo7

When it comes to the brain, its health it's necessary to add information about nootropics. Yeap, some people find this topic questionable but it's worth mentioning. I myself don't know a lot about them. I read here wisepowder.com/product-details/684... about one of such remedies and it turns out that reasonable consumption can really improve your brain health.

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codingmindfully profile image
Daragh Byrne

I'm glad of the trick :) - if anyone wants more in-depth stuff about meditation, my articles section is a treasure trove (coder and meditation teacher here).

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Would love to check them. ☺️☺️

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codingmindfully profile image
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catherinecodes profile image
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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks Catherine 😊

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shilpa3495 profile image
Shilpa

This is very effective for me.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

That's why I told you all to follow this 😃 🔥

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pepibumur profile image
Pedro Piñera Buendía

Thanks for writing this up. I agree with most of the tips that you shared.

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sarthology profile image
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nguyenquangtin profile image
Tony Tin Nguyen

Thank you very much for this article. It's really helpful for me.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Glad this could help😊

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kingsten profile image
Kingsten Banh

Thanks for sharing! I will start focusing on my sleep cycle because it is the most important part of life. Getting enough quality sleep to have a better start of the day.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Exactly 😊

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vrinek_94 profile image
Kostas

These are some nice tips.

Can you share the source of the food list in “4. Eat healthy”?

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Yeah sure, it was webMD.

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sanjayojha profile image
Sanjay Ojha

Thank you for the tips. Its very helpful. For focus, I love to listen nature music. Check noisli.com. You can mix sounds. I love the rain sound along with wind.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Have used Noisli. Great product. Now I use Noizio.

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mkrypka profile image
Maykol Rypka

Nice article!

I suggest you to read this book if you want to go hardcore... "Your brain at work by David Rock"

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

And here it goes to my reading list 😊

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axelledrouge profile image
AxelleDRouge

Thanks for the tips, and all your others posts. I'll use for Code Snippets, and I really like your Purpose Book.

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sarthology profile image
Sarthak Sharma Author

Thanks a lot Axelle. 😊😊

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shivtaj profile image
Shivtaj Virk

great tips.I usually get distracted because of my phone.I'll definitely going to try
listed tips..

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sarthology profile image
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vaibhav63101425 profile image
Vaibhav

Nice article ...gonna be beneficial for me

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sarthology profile image