5 daily habits to become a productive developer

First of all, I would like to avoid any confusion that might come out of this post…

I won’t focus on the technical stuff and what is a better coding practice to use while working on a project (will leave that for another story). I will write here about some daily habits that I have developed through time and were the key for me to become a better developer and increased my productivity through the day.

A good developer is not only being a great programmer but also possessing great habits.

#5 Fix your sleep-wake cycle

Sleeping properly plays a big role in your productivity for the day that is coming. The recommended sleep for an adult is at least 7 hours. Working until 4 AM and then getting up at 11am-12pm just won’t work. You’ll need a full night sleep, in order to get the maximum out of yourself the other day. Try to schedule your waking hours to be the same for each day, and let’s say an hour difference for the weekends. To be consistent means you reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can plan your day better because you always know when you will wake up.

#4 Be physically active

We sit in our chairs for at least 8–12 hours a day with few goings to the bathroom or the kitchen and that’s it. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and also improves your memory and thinking skills. If you are in a position (like working from home) go visit the nearest gym or another place for physical exercise that you prefer in the middle of your working day, otherwise go after your working hours. Usually, I visit the gym after the 4th hour of work and getting back refreshed to finish my day. Try and keep consistency as #5.

#3 Don’t overwork

Usually, developers are exposed to a heavy workload either working on a single project that has tight deadlines or working on multiple long-term projects at the same time. To achieve this sometimes you work even more than 12 hours a day, but can you stay productive for 14–16 hours a day and then keep the same tempo through the whole week? – The answer is no

From my experience, I have been pushing the limits of my body and brain with working as described above and I have never found this method a success. I have noticed that in the first 8 hours I am very productive and doing twice as much work as after those 8 hours(especially in the mornings). I have also realized that I was only getting stuck in problems that I couldn’t solve for 1–2 hours and that I was decreasing 2–3 hours from my sleep and daily activities just to finish the project. Then I have changed this habit and limited my work to 12 hours max, and the results were visible after the first week. I’ve never spent an insane time on debugging from that day because my mind was always present and focused. One unwritten rule that every developer on the planet has faced in their work:

If you are stuck with an issue for a longer time, just leave it for the morning and continue with something else. You will fix it in 2 minutes, guaranteed!

#2 Increase your knowledge each day

Every day we see new things in programming (language versions, programming practices, frameworks you have never used before, etc.), a world which is like a never-ending ocean. That is why you must keep track with it, and learn something new each day. Expand your knowledge in your area with stuff that you have never implemented before in your projects.

Think of something that you wanted to know how it works and find few tutorials to see how it’s done. Then, create a test project and start implementing that particular feature. Keep all these test projects that you are doing in a folder on your machine. I am keeping a lot of test projects, and in mine experience, they have increased my project development delivery by at least 50%.

Here is one example…

I am receiving a project with a camera feature which I have never implemented before in any of my projects. But, instead of losing hours on research how to do it you already know how to do it and have it ready for reuse in a minute.

#1 F-O-C-U-S

First place goes to … FOCUS!

Let’s say you are working between 8–12 hours a day, but how many of those hours are an actual WORK? How many hours do you spend scrolling on social media, speaking on phone, while you are in your working hours?

For me personally, this has been the game changer in my productivity. Train your focus, and start throwing away stuff that is not important at the moment. Find time for when you work, and when you do your free-time activities. Don’t mix them in the same basket.

Here are some advises how to improve your focus:

  • Stop scrolling on social media and browsing on unproductive sites — you can start with this point, as I think this is the most time consuming one. Let’s say you are spending an hour on this, imagine how much work would you finish if you focus on your work. There is great software for free that can block these sites while you work if you are having a hard time to control yourself.
  • Call only for emergencies — when I mean focus, I really mean it. The call from your friends, or from whoever needs you in the moment when you are working can wait. Finish your task (or even your working day) and then call them. You can easily forget the solution that you’ve found for some complex task if you get distracted. Also, from my experience, I need my focus the most when I am debugging some issue.
  • Don’t overuse your pauses — the bigger the pause is — the lazier you get.

Hope that these 5 habits will help you in your productivity as they’ve helped me. Please share these daily habits if you find them helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the comment section.

Have a good and productive day! 🙂

Recommended for you: Communication – the hidden force to becoming a successful developer

2 comments

  1. Alex Reply

    “The recommended sleep for an adult is at least 7 hours. Working until 4 AM and then getting up at 11–12 AM just won’t work.”

    If this is a typo and you mean 11am-12pm, then what’s the problem? That’s 7-8 hours.

    If you really mean “12 AM” (i.e., midnight), then that’s logically impossible. You can’t wake up 4 hours before you go to sleep!

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