How to Improve Developer Productivity? [Guide]May 10, 2022
You work as a developer or software engineer and sometimes you feel tired, procrastinating and not satisfied with your effectiveness at work. It is a common thing for many developers because web-development is hard work that requires a lot of concentration and brain tension.
In this article we are going to discuss 10 recommendations on how to make the development work more efficient and how to improve developer productivity!
But first, let’s clear up what productivity means?
What is Productivity? How Can it be Measured?
Productivity means that you get more work done with the same resources or during the same period of time. Different companies can use different tools and metrics to measure developer productivity. Usually it is based on how many lines of code, features, or tasks a developer could do. For example, you can use as metrics quantity of lines of code, code reviews, bugs fixed, number of commits, finished tasks, or number of deployments or releases. You should also keep in mind that measuring developer performance requires more transparency in products and processes. The way of measuring what your manager or company chooses can depend on objectives, business goals, size and structure of the company and so on. It can also be team or individual measuring. But anyway, the main idea is to improve these metrics by improving developer productivity.
How can we describe modern IT developers?
Also, before we start discussing recommendations on how to improve developer productivity, we would like to define the audience.
Ten or fifteen years ago, when we discussed developers or software engineers, we would have imagined socially awkward, stereotypical geeks, similar to the main heroes from classic IT series and movies like Silicon Valley, The IT Crowd and so on.
But nowadays this stereotype is fading into reality. Now we can find absolutely different people working in web-development. We are going to propose common tools that can be useful for all types of personalities (and even not only for developers!).
The IT sphere is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The quantity of employees is significant. According to statista.com, the number of full-time employees increased from 52 million in 2019 to 65 million in 2022. And the demand for IT professionals is still growing! And the level of professionals and competition for a good offer are also high. So you should do your best to improve your skills and productivity at work. We are going to help you with this! So here goes!
Find below 10 tips on how to improve developer productivity:
1. Develop yourself first!
It may sound like a banal piece of advice, but it is absolutely effective and true. If you want to be a productive developer, you have to increase your base of professional knowledge, commercial experience and so-called hard skills. Deep knowledge of your stack, tools, libraries and so on will help you to find the right solutions faster and easier.
But what is more important to all developers is their fundamental knowledge. You can go deeper into algorithms, systems architecture, or devopsing. And a good understanding of these things will definitely help you to feel more confident at any project you work on.
Stay a constant learner all your life to keep your brain working at the most productive level!
2. Create an optimal environment
The ideal developer workspace may look different for everyone, but the basic idea is to minimize distractions and make it comfortable for you.
Working on the beach with a laptop looks perfect only in pictures on social networks. In fact, an ergonomic workspace with a desk, a quality chair, and proper lightning is crucial for developers!
What is most important in your working environment is the right hardware! For all IT-specialists and especially for developers equipment plays a significant role in making their workspace convenient and their work productive.
Don’t forget about your online workspace. It is worth mentioning that there are also tools which are not software-related, but can help you much with planning, organizing and managing your performance, tasks and habits. Some of the most common project management and time tracking systems are Jira, Asana and Trello. There are also tools like F.lux to help reduce eye strain while looking at screens. There are plenty of other applications and tools to improve developer productivity and make your work more comfortable and efficient. Just if you feel like you need to improve something in your working environment at the office or your home office, be free to ask your manager and justify the importance or try to improve it yourself. Optimal workplace helps to improve developer productivity and performance as well!
3. Decrease the quantity of distractions
If you ask developers what is the most annoying thing for them, most will answer that it is getting interrupted in the middle of a difficult working process. Because after being distracted, it is hard to catch that flow again. But distractions can be everywhere and affect everyone. So how can we avoid them?
One of the first and easiest ways is to turn off notifications in messengers and applications. You can read messages when you’re ready for a break. It will definitely save you hours of interruption for you.
- Use noise-canceling headphones and mute your phone.
- Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is not what developers should practice much, but sometimes it is an essential skill they need. But to switch effectively between tasks, you can plan ahead and split your work day into some sessions.
- If your company uses apps like Slack, turn on the “Do not disturb” feature before starting your work session.
Regular communication among the team helps to share important information that’ll impact how effectively you get your work done. Some ways to provide more frequent communication include:
- Slack channels
- Daily standups
- Team lunches
- Project boards
It’s important to keep meetings and calls short and only include the people who need to be there. Speaking of Slack, it’s best practice to save group chat for communication that applies to all members, and use DMs for personal one-to-one discussions.
Regular communication and feedback lead to more engaged customers and stronger customer relationships, but it can also help to improve developer productivity. Feedback gives a team proper information to help them decide what features and requests to work on and when.
But don’t overdo it! 😉
Communication is useful, but like many other good things, you can overdo it. Too much communication can negatively impact productivity and reduce working time and energy available to get the main tasks done.
5. Set reasonable deadlines
To set deadlines that are reasonable for you, you first need to determine the scope of the project. Deadlines are great if they motivate a team and help them plan and prioritize tasks and plan for dependencies. But too much or too early, and they can become overwhelming, negatively impact concentration, and cause stress. When setting deadlines, you should provide a reasonable estimate of how long the task will take, and take into account unforeseen bugs and roadblocks, as well as other priorities that may arise.
If you are using project management software, be sure to monitor it regularly when you work on your tasks.
6. Implement healthy habits
This tip is 100% suitable for all, not just developers.
Drink more water, pay attention to mental health, get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and ventilate the room to breathe more fresh air. Make sure your other muscles get some work to do and not only your brain!
Healthy habits lead to a better level of energy and as a result they will help to improve developer productivity. Take care of yourself first!
7. Design before you implement
You should understand the task clearly because uncertainty will lead to procrastination and wasting of time. Your first goal should be to understand a task clearly and define the tools and strategy you will use.
It is a common beginners’ mistake to jump right into writing the code, without first mapping the nature of the problem and the logical paths for creating the solution.
The best way to follow this tip is to keep a notebook and a pen nearby. Draw maps, outlines, flows and schemes. Write down all the comments and ideas that come to your mind during the process. It will definitely help you not to lose the thread of your logic when you get distracted by something, for example.
8. Find your flow state
Just as a muse comes to writers or artists, so do developers who can catch the “wave” and be fully involved in the process and even do not notice how the time goes. It’s a magical feeling when your knowledge, motivation and concentration align to produce maximum performance. Try to feel this condition and use it to be productive to the maximum.
It is necessary to learn more about yourself and analyze when you are the most productive and what you need to create this “magical flow”.
Due to this reason, remote work and flexible working hours are so important for most developers as you are more flexible and have the opportunity to work when you feel most productive.
Being productive doesn’t mean sitting at your desk from 9am till 5pm. These days many developers think about their work issues and work even when they commute, do sports, relax at home, or have important conversations with peers at a local cafe or a bar. Flexibility is one of the main advantages of remote work. Being flexible with when and where developers work allows them to work smarter, innovate and be more productive. But there are some threats to working remotely, and to prevent them you can follow the tips in our previous article in the blog about remote work.
9. Keep your code blocks clean and short
Nothing is worse than trying to figure out what you did some months ago and how it needs to be changed. When you have massive methods and classes, it can be very difficult to figure out what the original logic was. To implement this rule you can follow some effective principles.
The first principle is DRY. It means “Don’t Repeat Yourself” and was first mentioned in the book The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas. The second principle that we recommend to improve developer productivity is the attractive KISS principle. This abbreviation means “Keep it simple, stupid!
It’s important that your code can be understood by you and other developers, even when it has been written a long time ago. Optimize your code for readability and understandability.
There is a popular and demonstrative quote by Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it well enough yourself.” Don’t forget it while doing your work as a developer, please!
The KISS principle is also offered in two other forms (for those who don’t feel good about the inclusion of the word “stupid”):
- Keep it short and simple
- Keep it simple and straightforward
As you can see some words may be changed, but the sense of the principle stays the same.
10. Don’t ignore the code reviews
You might be the smartest guy in the room, with the best time-management and knowledge of all the key bindings in the world, and, still, there will always be room for involving others. Everybody makes mistakes and we want to have at least a second pair of eyes to look over a solution before it goes into production. Invest in yourself and introduce pairing programming, code reviews, or some other collective practice to your development process.
One of the best types of code reviews is when you have a good programmer who is only a little familiar with the project looking at the code. If you need to explain all the details, you’ll learn your code better, and sometimes an outsider will see problems that you, as the insider, missed. Code reviews cost you nothing but time, but often save you much more than it takes to do it.
Code review is an essential part of workflow, also for sharing best practices with your team. This is connected with our first tip about improving professional knowledge to improve developer productivity.
Outsource some of your projects or use Flatlogic Products to save time and improve developer productivity!
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Productivity is about doing more. But it’s important to make sure you are working on products and features you or your customer need, because this won’t add any value to the business. That’s why productivity is always best combined with efficiency. It’s not just about getting the job done more quickly, but focusing on the right things and producing quality work.
It can take years of discipline and practice to be productive. So, don’t push yourself too hard and expect perfection in the beginning. But we hope that following the tips from this article will help you to improve your productivity.
If you work remotely and feel like your motivation and productivity decrease, you can read our previous article Why Does Remote Work Make Us Paranoid? And What To Do About It?