There are plenty of productivity tips online and some of them are good, some of them are not, but I wanted to create a list of things that actually help me get shit done. Tips that are easy to use and have an immediate effect, not a five year plan. These tips won’t be about what software to use or what color theme is the best, but general practices that significantly boost productivity. However keep in mind – what works for me, may not work for you. These tips may also be relevant to non-developers, but I can only speak from my experience as a developer.
1. Turn off the internet!
Seriously, there is no better advice than that. It is dead obvious and works every time. If you need to get stuff done, just turn off the internet and hack away. Silence your phone, turn off all notifications and just disconnect from everything. I usually download offline docs for the programming language and tools I am using at the moment, but when I really need to research a problem or ask on a forum, I just use my tablet or phone. Ok, sometimes it is faster and easier to just turn the internet on again, but do not wander too far.
2. Set a single goal and visualize the result
I often lose my productivity when I have a ton of tasks and no idea where to start. Choose one and start by doing. If you can’t choose task, at least prioritize them and make an ordered list. I try to avoid over-analyzing and over-planning my tasks, it gets me nowhere. I achieve the best results when I just start working. Visualizing the end result is a great motivator and it helps to maintain a clear path to the goal.
3. Take regular breaks
It is easy to sit all day in front of a computer without actually being productive. I get tired faster and lose focus without regular breaks. Do whatever pleases you, but avoid checking your phone, reading on tablet or doing anything technical or work related. Rest and relax while taking the break, collect your thoughts and check out your surrounding environment.
4. Plan on the night before
I try to make a small plan for the next day when I have finished working or before going to sleep. It makes me worry less about the stuff I have to do tomorrow and actually helps to start working quickly when the next work day comes. Also never leave unfinished work without a note, especially for a whole weekend. It is very easy to forget what bug or feature you were hacking on and nothing spoils a productive day like a whole morning spent on remembering and re-discovering stuff.
5. Optional: Use caffeine and other stimulants
Let’s face it, caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants can boost your productivity a lot. They are not for everyone, but most people use them in one way or another. Coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks are all widely used sources of caffeine. And they taste good too.
Your mileage may vary.