Saying improving productivity in software engineering is challenging is an understatement. You have to meet deadlines, work on extremely complex problems, and keep your good health in the meantime. That’s why I’m here to show you six straightforward steps that can transform a not-so-efficient day into the best day of the week!
The key to enhancing productivity in software engineering is not about creating a to-do list but rather about strategically managing your time and tasks. Re-evaluating your routine and adopting new strategies can help boost your efficiency, reducing stress and freeing up time for what truly matters in your life. Let’s see the six key strategies you can apply to your life to make high productivity a reality.
Each person is unique in how they function most efficiently. Understanding your peak energy times, strengths, weaknesses, and personal habits can offer valuable insights into your optimal work patterns. Use this knowledge to create a routine that complements your natural workflow, maximizes your strengths, and provides support in areas where you may struggle.
For example, I like to go to the gym and practice Jiu-Jitsu, but how can I fit everything into a balanced routine? For a long time, I tried training at midday. Still, I realized it was decreasing my productivity because I don’t like to break my work day, so it was taking some time for me to get focused again after the training, so midday is not a good time for me, but rather in the morning or the evening.
However, some people prefer the opposite, so you need to find out what works better for you. Try analyzing how you perform your work tasks during the morning and afternoon. Which time is better for you? If you do some activity at a certain time and feel like you are not productive, what if you try a different routine? We tend to avoid changes, but sometimes it can be the key to increase productivity in software engineering.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, suggests that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your efforts. You can strategically prioritize your workload by identifying the tasks that give the most significant results. This approach lets you focus on tasks that truly matter, promoting effectiveness rather than simply being busy. Being busy doesn’t matter much if the tasks do not help you increase productivity in software engineering.
Imagine struggling for 6 hours to solve a simple task when it probably could have been done in 30 minutes if you had asked a co-worker who already had experienced this issue or even simply read the documentation. Another example could be in a web application. Suppose we have an extensive backlog with many new features and enhancements to be implemented.
We always have those enhancements that don’t give a lot of value to the final user, so what do you think would be better, spend a whole sprint to get done 5 small enhancements tasks that sometimes the user wouldn’t even notice, or get 1 new feature done that would make the user very happy? Sometimes getting this single feature done takes less time than doing the 5 enhancements. Of course, sometimes, we are not the person who makes the final decision prioritizing the features, but we certainly can give opinions and help on it.
Automation and delegation can play a significant role to boost productivity in software engineering. Nowadays, we have many tasks that can be automated, we have automatic payment and automatic creation of invoices, and we can automate workflows using existing apps or even create our own bot using something like Puppeteer for whatever you want.
Also, we tend to do by ourselves tasks that could be simply delegated to people who are professionals on it, and it’s not just about work, I mean, if you feel like you are wasting too much time washing your car or cleaning your house, you could consider paying someone else to do that and use this time to study or invest in your personal projects.
Anxiety can be a great obstacle in your journey to maximize productivity in software engineering, causing you to lose focus and waste valuable time thinking about future stuff. A simple but effective strategy to manage anxiety is to write down your anxious thoughts. This practice helps reduce their intensity and allows you to analyze them more precisely. This is a mental decluttering that helps you to focus on your work. For example, if you know you will have a busy day/week, it’s a good idea to plan in advance which time or day you will do each task, creating a calendar to guide you through this busier time.
You know, that repetitive task that you feel like you have to do every day, that activity you are doing that you are already sick of, but you feel like you can’t put it down, and it keeps making you busy forever. It can be simple day-to-day activities or even courses you started, and you feel obligated to finish it.
Sometimes the best thing to do is simply declutter it from your routine. If it doesn’t make sense anymore, there is no reason to keep doing that, this is totally the opposite of productivity. That way, you will probably spend a long time doing a course that you are not even getting the knowledge anymore because you are already sick of it. A good tip to maximize productivity in software engineering by decluttering is to write down everything you have in your routine and analyze it, thinking: “Does it still make sense”?
Have you ever gotten yourself with a terrible headache at the end of the day because you worked and struggled a lot in a certain task? Lack of sleep can lead to decreased concentration, poor decision-making skills, and decreased productivity. Prioritizing a healthy sleep schedule is probably the most important step to improve productivity in software engineering. If I would suggest only one of the rules that are described in this article, this would be the one.
I have to admit that I neglected a healthy sleep routine for a long time, believing that it would be better for my career if I slept less and studied more. Well, I definitely learned a lot, but it was 100% not the optimal way to study. I mean, I could wake up 2 hours earlier and use this time to study, but what’s the point if I don’t concentrate enough to get the knowledge?
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