10 Productivity Tips for Developers

As a general rule of thumb, you as a developer should never reinvent the wheel. With this rule in mind, here is a list of 10 productivity tips that will help you be more productive and efficient as a developer.
Productivity Tips for Developers

Since DevToolbox is all about helping developers to be more productive and efficient, let’s start with the productivity tips that can really make your life much more easier.

As a general rule of thumb, you as a developer should never reinvent the wheel. With this rule in mind, here is a list of 10 productivity tips that will help you be more productive and efficient as a developer.

1. Use and stick to one IDE or code editor for writing code

An IDE has everything you need out of the box—debugger, autocompletion, linter, etc while code editors like Visual Studio Code, Atom and Sublime Text are more of a text editor but can be extended with plugins and extensions to be as powerful as an IDE.

So, always use an IDE if there is one, like Android Studio for Android development. Use a code editor only if there is no suitable IDE available for the type of development you are working on. Once you have one, stick to it and master it.

2. Use GUI client when working with Git

Git GUI clients like Sourcetree and Fork which is free for both MacOS and Windows can be very helpful when you want to visualise code changes or the commit history. Also, the keyboard shortcuts that are built into these clients make executing command much faster. We recommend using Sourcetree for interfacing with Git.

But if you are already familiar with running Git commands via the CLI, by all means, stick to it as your main Git interface. You might want to use both, and that’s totally fine as long as you are comfortable with it.

3. Utilize frameworks and libraries for your development projects

Frameworks and libraries are codes that are already written by someone else that you can leverage on to speed up development. These are the building blocks that you can use for your development projects without having to write everything from scratch.

There are at least a framework or library out there, open-sourced for every type of application and language. Just search for it and look for those that are being actively developed. For example, if you want to develop a web application using the Ruby language, the most popular framework out there is Ruby on Rails (RoR).

That being said, you should understand the underlying concepts of it and have a good grasp of the language in which the framework or library is written, else you will have no idea what you are doing.

4. Use third-party tools and services to save time

Again, don’t reinvent the wheel. Always leverage on the available tools and services out there to speed up and support your development process. Don’t write you own analytics, ads engine, error logging, etc just because you can.

There is almost always a tool or service out there to make your life easier, and usually, they are free or have a free plan. For example, Sentry is really good for tracking bugs, crashes and errors in applications. They have a generous free plan and the good thing about Sentry is that it’s an open source software. So if you want to deploy your own, feel free to do so.

5. Use Google, Stack Overflow and GitHub to the fullest

When you encounter an error or problem that is new to you, the first thing you should do is to Google it up. 90% of the time, the solution is already out there on the internet because some other developers had the same issue and they already raise that on GitHub or Stack Overflow. If not, you can always submit an issue on GitHub or ask questions on Stack Overflow and in the process, you are helping out other developers that might be facing the same problem.

6. Invest in a good chair

You can compromise on the size of your monitor but never compromise on the chair… unless you are standing while coding.

So make sure your body has the best support in terms of posture and position which can really make your life easier and healthier. It’s is definitely worth investing in a good chair considering the amount of time you spend on it. Amazon has some great choices and, do read Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror)’s round-up on programming chairs.

7. Take short breaks constantly

Avoid working continuously for too long. For every 30 minutes or so, take a 5 to 15 minutes break from your computer and work. Do some walking, stretching… things that are not work-related. This method is called Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.

Wikipedia

Some enforce this strictly but you can follow this loosely. It’s totally up to you how long you want your work intervals and breaks but we suggest that you do not exceed 1 hour of work and 15 minutes of break.

8. Plan and organize your work and tasks

If you are in a team, your team should be using some project management tools like Asana to manage projects and tasks. If you are a solo developer, we recommend using Trello to manage your projects and tasks.

Organize and break down your tasks into daily and monthly to-do lists. From the list sort the tasks in the order of importance and work on those tasks that are on top so that you won’t get distracted and overwhelmed by other tasks.

9. Automate time-consuming and repetitive tasks

You should always automate as much as possible those tasks that you are going to execute over and over again. For example writing scripts to automatically update your local development database with staging data, or build and release mobile apps to the App Store, which can be done using fastlane.

The initial time spend writing scripts or setting up the automation process might be more than the time executing the task itself but, unless it’s a one-off job, it’s totally worth the time to set up the process.

10. Write documentation and comments

This is a classic one.

Documentation allows you to transfer the why behind code. Much in the same way code comments explain the why, and not the how, documentation serves the same purpose.

Write the Docs

After some time, you will forget some of the codes you have written. Well, most of us do, unless you have a memory of an elephant. This is why documentation and comments are important to explain why to those who are looking at your codes. Not only it saves your time, but it also saves everyone’s time.

So, always write at least a README for all the projects you are working on, and well as make it a habit to leave useful comments inside the code you have written.

Conclusion

These productivity tips are generally aimed at new or junior developers who tend to spend time doing and focusing on the wrong things. But, unknowingly to them, these things are causing them dearly in terms of productivity and efficiency.

Finally, feel free to share this article with anyone that you think would benefit from, and if you have any suggestion or your own productivity tips that you want to share, just leave your comments down below.


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