Productivity Hacks

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Hey Guys ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿฝ,

Hope everyone is OK. When learning (reading a lot) i've found myself getting distracted easily so today I thought to try the Pomodoro technique and i'm happy to say I saw some great results!

It got me thinking, what other hacks work you guys?


Thanks for reading. To keep up with my coding journey come say hi ๐Ÿ‘‹ on twitter or on our #devNewbie Discord server where we have a friendly group of learners sharing their experiences.

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Alongside the Pomodoro technique I make sure I actively get up from my desk and go for a little walk around the office and try to have a quick chat to the other devs (provided they are not in the middle of something, obviously). Just doing a quick lap of the office helps clear my head.

 

cool, thanks thats my next goal, step away rather than play with my phone ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

 

DISCLAIMER, not making a truth claim or anything of that nature. Just sharing personal workflows that work for me...

For productivity (macOS):

For attentiveness:

  • โ˜•
  • ๐Ÿƒ(exercise)
  • comfortable clothes
  • good chair
  • Personally, I get distracted surrounded by a lot of people talking or walking around (open office spaces, cafes, weworks, etc)-- If I can find a quiet phone room or even in a car, or someplace quiet and isolated(ish) I can usually get a lot more done versus being surrounded by a lot of peoples.
 

thanks for a great list Derek. I use alfred and the โ˜• already, will try some of the other stuff.

 

welcome ๐Ÿค™๐Ÿฝ!

Cool, yeah Alfred3 is awesome! If you haven't wired up some workflows yet github.com/zenorocha/alfred-workflows are plug and play. There's also a workflow to integrate kapeli.com/dash.

Oh and if you haven't already set up Alfred3's clipboard history management, you might want to look into that as well. For all things copy ๐Ÿ.

๐Ÿ˜ฎ mind blown right now. Had no idea Alfred could do all that. Thank you

 

If a task takes less than 5 minutes do it straight away.

Keep a log of work done each day and a separate list of jobs to do ordered by priority.

select which tasks you want to accomplish each day, if you are implemeting a new feature ensure it is broken down to stories and tasks which are no more than 4 hours at most.

headphone are essential to remove background conversations in an open plan office.

always look to improve the workflow and clean code as you go

 

Thanks John. I love the < 5 mins idea. Started applying it today :)

 

To me the biggest productivity technique is: remote working.

  • Commuting is terrible. Wasted time at the start and the end of day.
  • It doesn't matter if you are in the zone you need to stop working to catch your train or your bus back home.

And the biggest productivity killer is Slack

I don't like distractions (that's another good reason for working from home) and Slack is demanding your attention constantly. I prefer to communicate in asynchronous ways like the email. I can close my email app and answer all emails later on. You can't do that with Slack where everybody expect you to answer immediately.

 

Some great points raised Jorge. Totally agree with the Slack! Iโ€™ve learnt to switch off distractions now, still a little improvement required though

 

Music + remove distractions. Simple things as silent notifications, remove too many chrome tabs (twitter and medium are my main distractions), use headphones (colleagues tend to not interrupt my focus).

 

cool, thanks. Distractions is a big one for me too. I have learnt to avoid them but can improve

 

I'm really big on batching work. It's where you do similar tasks all at once and hyper-focus on those tasks before moving on to another one. I also will shut off notifications on everything when I need to do deep work.

I also like going into work super early in order to work on personal stuff so that I don't hit traffic on the way in. (My commute goes from 20 mins to 1.5 hrs if I leave late). I also stay late for the same reason.

As far as apps go, I love Google Inbox (RIP), TweetDeck, TicTic for todos, and text expander for responding to similar messages. In addition, I don't really do phone notifications other than text/call.

 

๐Ÿ˜ƒ Ali, you are a constant source of inspiration so thank you. Only today I took some of your mac set up tips and tricks - very cool.

Got to check this list now too. Yes bummer about inbox โ˜น๏ธ There was a cool alternative but the were acquired.

 

Sometimes music helps me stay focused. I do have some days where I'm more distracted than others though! Interested in giving the pomodoro technique another go.

 

Hey Lynne,

Thanks for getting back! Yes I think music helps too, but I read a lot of docs lol so sometimes it gets a little noisy too. Yes I would definitely say give pomodoro another try. I'm on day two and i feel so much more productive ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

 

Ah yeah, I agree it can be more distracting when reading! For coding, sometimes I'll choose music that has no lyrics, like film soundtracks or dance or something. I'll give the pomodoro technique a try today :) do you use a specific app or anything for it?

Thanks, I have thought about music-only tracks before - will give it a try. Yes, i have been using this extension. Its open source and does the trick. Do let us know how you get on.

musicforprogramming.net
Also, your link to the chrome extension was broken. Seemingly did to the registered trademark character, here:
chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/....
Thanks for that suggestion. I'd been using tomtato-timer.com

 

Everyone is different, so what works for me may or may not work for you. But since I started working on my current project I've been experimenting with a new way of increasing productivity by being conscious of flow state and its conditions and it's working quite well for me.

  • Optimize for being in flow state as often as possible and for as long as possible. I aim for at least two long periods per day (morning, afternoon). It doesn't always work, but it's a good goal. Making it happen isn't easy, here's how I made it work for me:
    • plan coding tasks ahead of time so you can spend a long time just cranking code.
    • use technologies that you're already familiar with, or that have good documentation so it's easy to learn without major interruptions
    • get fast feedback: invest on good tests and avoid slow builds. Don't tolerate flaky tests!
    • avoid meetings like the plague! In my experience, a meeting will basically disrupt a whole period of work (say, a meeting at 10am will destroy my productivity from 8am to 12am!)
    • find a distraction-free work environment. I like to work from home when kids aren't around, or from a coffee shop or a public library. Some level of background noise actually helps concentration. Same for music.
  • Use a desktop app to track your productivity, how much time you spent doing work or slacking off. Having a report of how much "productive" time I spent on a week works great for my own personal accountability. I use timingapp.com but I'm sure there are others.
  • Make it harder to keep bad habits:
    • Remove social apps from mobile phone
    • Block twitter.com, etc on the laptop's /etc/hosts.

Things that don't work for me:

  • I don't use pomodoro techniques, personally. It goes against the goal of being in flow for a long time. I like to work with full-concentration, in the zone, uninterrupted for long hours and just forget about the world around me.
  • our team avoids slack, telegram. We have an arrangement to avoid distracting each other (because it interrupts the flow), so we prefer asynchronous forms of communication (e.g: Trello).

I hope this list is useful for someone out there!

 

WOW, thank you Yves, for such great detail and introducing some alternative concepts. Things that I can try in the coming weeks.

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Waqar Mohammad profile image
After graduating with a Law Degree, I decided to stick with my passion for software engineering. Currently focused on learning Javascript. Itโ€™s a dream to be able to master it enough to teach it.