4 Developer Productivity Habits

My 4 most useful habits for increasing daily productivity

Every now and again it's great to take stock and question how you do things. This is not easy because we can unconsciously take many aspects of our day for granted, or be influenced by society or the people around us into doing things in a certain way.

It's also a great habit to observe the habits of people whom you look up to. Your core motivation for doing any difficult task must always be personal. How you execute that task however, is always up for revision in my opinion.

1. Disable any device notifications that you can

I discussed this before in detail. Begin with turning off all notifications on every device! Then enable only the ones whose absence are actually causing a negative effect on your life.

2. Minimise other sources of distraction

Phone calls

This is a big one for me. As well as keeping notifications minimal, I keep my phone silent and schedule all calls with people by email or text message. For me, just having even the unconscious awareness that I could be distracted by a phone call at any time is distracting. You should be able to get away with this if your job is mainly creative (like programming) where interacting with people is not required for most of the time.

Scheduling calls can also work to increase their usefulness since the time feels more precious and both people can mentally prepare what they want to discuss beforehand.

However this may be one of those habits that come with 'societal/cultural inertia': the unconscious assumption that you necessarily remain connected and available in this way might give you a feeling of unease or irresponsibility, even in any actual negative consequences are not obvious. I think it's likely that for most people these kinds of fears are exaggerated in the mind.

Physical distractions

Interruptions by people, noise, heat, smell, light — these are all important to consider. Having more control over these was a big motivation for me to become a freelancer by giving me more opportunity to work from home. I can say that this helped me significantly.

3. Exercise

Exercise increases dopamine and oxygen within your brain, and for many people helps them to feel more relaxed, motivated and alert. These are the immediate short-term benefits, besides the many longer-term benefits.

The earlier exercise is done in the day, the more time there is remaining in the day to experience its short-term benefits. That's why a lot of people enjoy exercising straight away in the morning. This is obvious if you've ever been to a swimming pool at 6 o'clock in the morning!

Not everybody experiences the same level of immediate benefit from exercise, with different people preferring different amounts. We all have natural variations in all of our attributes and this one is no different. The main thing is being aware enough of the state of your body and mind in order to discover what's best for you.

4. Kanbanflow

A great introduction and tutorial to Kanbanflow comes from John Somnez's video. Kanbanflow is an extremely easy-to-use task board, complete with keyboard shortcuts, built-in-timer and many customisation options even within the free plan.

Kanbanflow also keeps track of the number of complete 'sessions' you manage to complete. These 'sessions' are otherwise known as pomodoros (Italian for tomato in case it bugs you). Breaking things down like this is extremely helpful to many.