September 28, 2023

20 Proven Developer Productivity Hacks to Keep You On Track in 2023


Being a great software developer is about more than just your ability to write high quality code. It's about how you contribute to the team and help deliver products on time.

That's why productivity metrics are so central to what we do.

Depending on how your team is organized, your productivity might be measured by things like sprint points, merged PRs or even lines of code. Especially if you're young in your career, these metrics can ratchet up the pressure and push you toward burnout rather than being more productive.

Productivity is all about working smarter rather than harder, and in that spirit, we'll share some of our favorite tips for staying focused and productive at work.

What is Developer Productivity?

Before we dive into the tips, let's take a step back and clarify what we mean by "developer productivity."

Developer productivity is a measure of how effectively a software developer can complete tasks. It's not just about writing code quickly. Instead, it encompasses a broad range of factors, including code quality, the ability to solve problems and implement solutions effectively, the capacity to collaborate with other team members and the skill to learn and adapt to new technologies or methodologies. In a nutshell, it's delivering a great product on time.

A productive developer is able to deliver high-quality work consistently and within a reasonable timeframe, while also contributing positively to the team and the project as a whole. Now, let's get into the tips.

Use Automations, Code Snippets and Libraries

A large part of becoming a more productive software engineer is finding ways to remove the unessential, so you can focus more on the essential. Many of the more menial development tasks can be automated, and by reusing existing code snippets and libraries, you can save a significant amount of time and effort when you write code.

1. Add Helpful Extensions and Automations Into Your Environment

Your environment is the bedrock of your success as a software developer. The specifics will depend on your personal preference, so we can't get too detailed here, but use your favorite text editor (such as Visual Studio Code or Sublime Text), get familiar with the tools, libraries and frameworks at your workplace and customize your environment with time-saving extensions like code spell checkers, debuggers and local caching tools.

By automating the repetitive tasks, you'll have more time for essential tasks, and you'll save yourself the eventual headache of poring through lines of code to find the tag you forgot to close.

2. Utilize Existing Frameworks and Libraries

Using existing frameworks and libraries is a smart way to speed up development and reduce the need to create new solutions from scratch. Open source projects, such as React, Angular, and Vue, offer a wealth of resources that can help you manage newly introduced code and build applications more efficiently. Not to mention, they have large and active communities.

Anytime you're eyeing a new project, it's a great idea to take a look at the community around the project. If discussions are active and lively, there's a great chance you'll find someone who can give you some help if you get stuck.

3. Create and Share Personal Code Snippets

If you don't already, make a habit of creating and sharing your personal code snippets. This practice not only saves time but also ensures code consistency across various projects. When you come across a piece of code that you know you’ll use again, turn it into a code snippet and store it for future use.

Moreover, sharing your code snippets with your team ensures that everyone is working with the same set of tools, leading to fewer errors and increased productivity. Just remember to document your snippets well and make sure they’re secure and accessible to the right people.

4. Leverage AI-Powered Tools like GitHub's CoPilot

More than 1 million developers already use GitHub’s CoPilot to autocomplete code and handle boilerplate tasks. While AI-powered tools may not be perfect, they can significantly alleviate the burden of tedious boilerplate coding and free up your time to focus on more complex tasks.

Master Task Prioritization and Time Management

Task prioritization and time management are essential skills for a productive developer. Making the most of your time and resources involves effectively learning how to prioritize tasks, manage your workload and maintain focus on your primary tasks.

5. Set Realistic Goals and Deadlines

Managing expectations and maintaining a healthy work-life balance necessitates the setting of realistic goals and deadlines. This is often easier said than done, especially in startups, where the team culture might value "10x developers" who grind through long hours. That might be fine in small doses, but long term, it's not sustainable.

By advocating for yourself and your time resources, you can ensure that your goals are achievable and deadlines are reasonable. This, in turn, helps to alleviate stress, boost motivation and enhance productivity.

So, before diving into a new project or task, take a step back and evaluate the situation to set realistic goals and deadlines.

6. Break Down Complex Tasks into Smaller Steps

Large, complex tasks can be intimidating and they can sap your motivation, because after hours of spinning your wheels on it, it can feel like you're not making any progress. By dividing a complex task into smaller, more achievable components, you can prioritize the steps, measure your progress and stay on track.

This approach not only makes it easier to tackle complex tasks but also fosters a sense of accomplishment as you complete each step. So, the next time you’re faced with a daunting task, remember to break it down and conquer it one step at a time.

7. Break Up Your Work Into Predictable Chunks

While it might be tempting to try to sit down and work for 8 hours straight, research shows you'll be more productive by breaking things up in a predictable cadence.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that can significantly enhance your productivity. Named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer used by its creator, this technique involves breaking your work into 25-minute intervals, known as "Pomodoros," separated by short 5-minute breaks.

The Pomodoro Technique is effective because it encourages focused work while also ensuring regular breaks to rest and recharge. These frequent breaks can help to maintain your mental agility and prevent burnout, while the structured work periods can help you to stay focused and motivated.

Automate Repetitive Tasks for Increased Efficiency

Another potent productivity hack is the automation of repetitive tasks, which frees you to focus on more crucial development aspects. Task runners and build tools enable automation of tasks like:

  • Running tests
  • Code linting
  • Compiling and minifying code
  • Generating documentation
  • Deploying code

This not only saves time but also ensures that your code is always up to par.

8. Employ Task Runners and Build Tools

Task runners and build tools are essential for automating repetitive tasks, running tests, and optimizing code. Tools like Grunt, Gulp and Webpack help to automate tasks like code compilation, minification and bundling, making your development process more efficient and manageable.

9. Implement Test Automation and Continuous Integration

By automating the execution of unit tests and integrating all developer working copies into a shared mainline multiple times a day, you can detect and fix bugs more quickly and maintain a high level of code quality throughout the development process.

Tools like Katalon Studio, Selenium, and Appium are just a few examples of the many software tools available for test automation and continuous integration, helping you streamline your testing process and ensure your code is always in top shape.

Stay Focused and Minimize Distractions

By far, the biggest productivity killer for software developers is focus. Studies show that it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus after being interrupted. In other words, a few ill-timed Slack messages from coworkers can completely sink your day.

To stay focused and minimize distractions, you must create an environment that fosters concentration and productivity. This includes establishing a dedicated workspace, using apps and extensions to block distracting websites and limiting context switching.

10. Establish a Dedicated Workspace

A dedicated workspace is crucial to minimize distractions and enhance focus during work hours. By creating a physical boundary between your living area and your workspace, you can maintain a clear separation between work and personal life. This not only helps you stay focused on your tasks but also ensures a healthy work-life balance.

Consider investing in ergonomic furniture, incorporating plants and artwork, and optimizing lighting to create a comfortable and functional workspace where you can fully concentrate on your projects.

11. Use Browser Extensions to Block Distracting Websites

Silence your phone and if necessary, use extensions to block distracting websites. Tools like:

  • Freedom
  • Cold Turkey Blocker
  • StayFocusd
  • BlockSite

can help you restrict access to websites that are known to be time-wasters, such as social media sites, news portals and entertainment websites.

By blocking these distractions, you can better concentrate on your work and ensure a more productive development process. Remember, focus is key to becoming a successful developer, and eliminating distractions is the first step towards achieving that goal.

12. Limit Context Switching Whenever Possible

Context switching is the act of constantly shifting focus between different tasks or projects. This can be a major drain on your productivity. Studies show that the mental blocks created by frequent context switching can reduce your productive time by as much as 40%.

To limit context switching, try to focus on one task or project at a time. Batch similar tasks together and tackle them in one go. For example, if you have several bugs to fix, dedicate a specific time block to address them all, rather than switching back and forth between bug fixing and feature development.

Using a task management tool can also help in this regard. Tools like Trello, Asana, or Jira can help you organize your tasks and prioritize them effectively.

Additionally, try to limit the number of times you check your email or chat apps. Constant notifications can pull you away from your work and break your concentration. Set specific times during the day to check and respond to messages, and keep your focus on your current task outside of those times.

Continuous Learning and Skill Improvement

For a software developer, staying productive in your role requires continuous learning and skill enhancement. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Dedicate time to learning new skills
  • Take courses or attend workshops
  • Read relevant articles and books
  • Experiment in your free time
  • Join online communities or forums
  • Attend conferences or meetups to network with professionals in the field

By following these strategies, you can enhance your development capabilities and elevate your productivity. After all, the more skilled and knowledgeable you are, the more efficient and effective you become as a developer.

13. Contribute to Open Source Projects and Collaborate with Other Developers

You can gain valuable insight from others’ experiences and enhance your skills by contributing to open source projects and collaborating with other developers. By working with others on real-world projects, you can gain valuable experience, learn new techniques and establish connections with other professionals in the industry.

Additionally, collaborating with other developers can help ensure you are familiar with the latest trends and technologies, making you a more effective and competitive developer.

14. Attend Online Tutorials, Workshops, and Webinars

Continuous learning and enhancement of your technical skills can be achieved by attending online tutorials, workshops, and webinars. These online events provide educational content and instruction on various topics, often hosted by professionals in the field.

By participating in these events, you can stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and developments, as well as acquire new skills and techniques. With the wealth of resources available online, there’s no excuse not to continue learning and growing as a developer.

Write Clean and Maintainable Code

For any developer, producing clean and maintainable code is a critical part of your job. Adhering to clean code principles not only makes your code more readable and understandable but also helps to prevent obscure errors and improve productivity in the long run.

By following best practices and coding standards, you can ensure that your code will be easy to maintain and debug, allowing you and your colleagues to focus on more important tasks.

15. Conduct Regular Code Reviews and Refactor Existing Code

Maintaining high code quality and increasing long-term productivity require regular code reviews and refactoring of existing code. Code reviews help detect potential bugs and security vulnerabilities early, while refactoring improves code readability and maintainability.

By employing these practices, you can ensure that your code is always up to par and that your projects run smoothly. Remember, the key to successful development is continuous improvement and a commitment to excellence.

16. Use Version Control Systems for Efficient Collaboration

Version control systems are indispensable for efficient collaboration, change tracking, and code management across multiple projects. Tools like Git, SVN, and Mercurial allow you to track alterations, revert to earlier versions, and collaborate on code across multiple projects.

By leveraging version control systems, you can streamline your development process, ensure code consistency, and facilitate effective collaboration with other developers. After all, collaboration is at the heart of successful software development, and version control systems are the backbone of efficient teamwork.

Optimize Your Well-Being for Peak Performance

Prioritizing your well-being is essential to achieving peak performance as a developer. By focusing on self-care, taking regular breaks and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, you can prevent burnout and ensure that you’re always performing at your best.

Remember, your physical and mental health play a significant role in your productivity and overall success as a developer.

17. Prioritize Sleep and Exercise

Improving mental performance, focus and overall well-being requires adequate sleep and regular exercise. By prioritizing these aspects of your life, you can ensure that you’re always performing at your best and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Establish a consistent sleep schedule, find a physical activity you enjoy and avoid screens before bedtime to promote restful sleep and a healthy lifestyle. By taking care of your mind and body, you’re setting yourself up for success in all areas of your life, including your career as a developer.

18. Maintain a Balanced Diet and Stay Hydrated

This one is pretty obvious, but by limiting certain processed and sugary foods and staying hydrated throughout the day, you can ensure that your body and mind are functioning at their best.

Remember, a healthy diet and proper hydration are essential for maintaining focus, preventing fatigue, and ensuring peak performance in all aspects of your life, including your work as a developer.

19. Cultivate Hobbies and Interests Outside of Work

To keep yourself productive at work, you need a life outside of work. This helps recharge your mind and maintain a sense of balance in your life.

Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, participating in sports or exploring the great outdoors, having hobbies outside of work can help you stay motivated and focused on your development tasks. Remember, all work and no play makes for a dull developer – find activities that bring you joy and make them a priority in your life.

Leverage the Right Tools and Platforms

Maximizing productivity and ensuring project success in the software development world involves leveraging the right tools and platforms. By using high-quality development tools and platforms like 8base, you can streamline your workflow, automate repetitive tasks and focus on the more important aspects of development.

Remember, the tools you choose can make all the difference in the success of your projects and your overall efficiency as a developer. Make sure to invest in the right tools and platforms that align with your goals and needs.

20. Choose High-Quality Development Tools and Platforms

Choosing high-quality development tools and platforms, like 8base, can markedly enhance your workflow and boost your productivity. 8base is the first full-stack low-code platform built for JavaScript developers, offering a rich set of features that support development and developer workflows. 8base enables developers to save a serious amount of time while they build beautiful, feature rich applications.

By choosing the best tools for your needs, you can ensure that your development process is efficient, effective, and successful. In the end, the right tools and platforms can make all the difference in your ability to deliver top-notch solutions to your clients.

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