Deirdre O'Brien, SEO & Marketing
Deirdre is an experienced marketer and SEO expert who is passionate about creating content for everyone except herself! She previously worked as Head of Content & Publishers for a Marketing Tech Startup where she led paid and organic content strategy for a large portfolio of DTC brands.
Is it just us, or is everybody talking about productivity these days? It’s a hot buzzword right now, as employers navigate a new reality of working from home. Studies have shown that workers across many industries are actually more productive working from home than they previously had been with the traditional office working model.
Even though productivity is on the up, you still might be feeling pressure to assess your own productivity and find areas of improvement. This is especially true for those starting out in their careers.
First of all, don’t be intimidated by all of the conversations about productivity! Finding your own workflow and hacks takes time as you navigate your evolving career, but we put together our top 3 tips for new coders who are embarking on a career in software development. Some may sound obvious, but oftentimes these basic hacks get overlooked or lost in the shuffle of a busy work week. Keep reading to learn out hacks, but remember to give yourself time to fine-tune your workflow, and always be open to new ideas!
Plan, prioritize, divide & conquer
This might sound obvious and not at all like a hack, but you’d be surprised at how much having a set weekly and daily plan can improve your productivity. As coders, there's always a new feature to configure or endless bugs to fix, and while you might want to try and get it all done in a day, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Trying to do everything at once can actually lead to getting very little done, so it is essential that you divide and conquer.
There are so many planning and prioritization methods out there, so you need to find the right flow that works for you. At the beginning of every week and day, create a list of tasks and write down how long you think it will take you to complete each one. Be realistic in the approach and think of 3-4 tasks that are the most important to do. Experienced coders all suggest starting the most daunting task first, as getting that out of the way means it won't be hanging over your head all day as you try to complete the tasks that are a little less painful! One good example comes from our friends at gitential: make a prioritized checklist of things to do.
Another method that is used by the likes of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and former First Last, Michelle Obama is the timeboxing approach. If you are initially having trouble with time management, this method is for you. This technique has gained popularity because of the big names who swear by it, and the concept was first introduced by James Martin, the author of the book Rapid Application Development, as a part of agile software development.
Timeboxing is a simple time management technique that involves allotting a fixed, maximum block of time for an activity in advance, and then completing the activity within that time frame.
You need to hold yourself accountable and actually stop when the time is up; this allows you to assess your progress and move on to the next important task. You’ll find that allotting yourself a set amount of time pushes you to stay focused and get it done because you have set yourself a goal that you are working towards. If you don't complete a task in the timeframe you wanted, don’t beat yourself up. Depending on the importance of the task, move on to the next item on your to-do list and come back to your original task.
Customize your IDE with the right tools (Codiga!)
No matter what IDE you chose to work with, customizing it to maximize coding speed is an action you should prioritize for increased productivity.
Without a doubt, your chosen IDE is the tool you spend most of your working hours with as a developer. All modern-day IDEs come with a lot of configuration options that allow you. to tailor them to meet your individual needs. Outside of this, as you're starting out in your coding career, finding the right tools that can be easily integrated with your IDE is an absolute must.
There are many tools out there that all promise to be a game-changer for coder productivity, but at Codiga, we have expertly designed all of our features to deliver the maximum amount of benefits with the least amount of time and effort on your part.
All of the features within Codiga’s suite can be accessed directly in your IDE thanks to our plugins that can be installed in various IDEs in a matter of minutes! Codiga was created to save our users as much time in their day as possible, and as a young coder, you should know that code snippets can be a game-changer for getting your tasks done in a timely manner, and to the highest standard possible.
Code snippets are reusable blocks of code that can be used as the foundation for most tasks and projects. The right code snippet can save you time writing repetitive code, but sourcing the correct code snippets can take a lot of time, and when you search for snippets online, oftentimes they are outdated or contain defective code that can actually take you more time to fix. That’s why we created Smart Code Snippets within our Coding Assitant tool.
Smart Code Snippets are the enhanced version of regular code snippets. What makes Codiga’s Smart Code Snippets a game-changer for productivity and time management is the fact that Codiga users gain access to a growing library of Smart Code Snippets that have been added and vetted by thousands of other developers who use our platform. This means you can say goodbye to wasted hours scouring the web for the right code snippet for the basis of your task. Smart Code Snippets can be added by any user on our network, and the best part is that you can add, store, share and use Smart Code Snippets without ever having to leave your IDE!
To populate a Smart Code Snippet in your IDE, you simply need to favor it on the Codiga Hub. Codiga Hub is a search engine tool that houses all of our Smart Code Snippets. New snippets are being constantly added, and you can find them by searching by name, keywords or tags that are associated with the piece of code that you are looking for. Once you find one that you want to use, favor it, and it will then populate directly on your chosen IDE with just a few short commands.
As we said, we want our tools to be as easy for you to use as possible, so Smart Code Snippets can be easily added to their working environment using our VS Code, IntelliJ, and Chrome plugins. These plugins support all languages, and Coding Assistant also works with cloud-based development platforms like GitHub codespaces, Replit or Gitpod.
Coding Assistant also acts as a Code Snippet Manager and allows you to add your own Smart Code Snippets that you can share publicly, privately, or with your selected team.
Smart Code Snippets can be created on our web interface, or directly in your IDE( this will save you so much time). Once you have created or found a code snippet you want to share or save for a later date to help with future tasks, simply highlight it directly in their IDE, right-click and select create Smart Code Snippet. From there, the piece of code will populate directly in our add Smart Code Snippet section, and you’ll be directed to add a name, language, a brief description, and most importantly, the keywords that will trigger the Smart Code Snippet to appear in your IDE.
Once saved, the Smart Code Snippet will be available instantly for use. For individual coders, it’s an amazing tool because you can store all of your code snippets in one place and easily find them as you are working. It’s also a chance to help a fellow coder out; by adding a public Smart Code Snippet, you are contributing to our growing library, and therefore helping out other software engineers who are looking for code snippets to save themselves time in their day. For those working in teams, it is very easy for everyone on your team to share their work with one another in real-time and can even mean you cut down on meeting time! Remember, you can also create and store private Smart Code Snippets. Data privacy and integrity is always top-of-mind for us at Codiga, so if you have a Smart Code Snippet that you want to have on hand but don’t want to share, you can set the visibility to private when you are adding the Smart code Snippet.
Schedule breaks( for sanity and creativity)
There are so many studies and theories about how you should approach taking breaks on your first day. We’ll get into a couple of them in a moment, but let us start by saying that scheduling breaks are absolutely essential for productivity. Firstly, when you work on a computer all day, breaks are should be non-negotiable. We know what you’re thinking; scheduling breaks in your day when you’re not even sure if you have enough time to get all of your tasks done feels counter-productive, but in fact, the opposite is true. A recent study by Inc. found that “taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves creativity and that skipping breaks can lead to stress, exhaustion, and creative block. According to research, the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound, or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. You lose your focus and your performance on the task declines”.
So, you should get into the mindset that breaks are a part of work. Once you program your mind to think this way, carving out time will be a lot easier. Studies show that taking 17-minute breaks every 52 minutes leads to better problem-solving capabilities, innovative ideas, and increased creativity( something that is oftentimes overlooked in the software development industry). So, if you can, take smaller breaks more often as opposed to one long lunch break or extended time away from your computer. But, we get that this is the real world, and stopping every 52 minutes is not always possible when working on a group project with a team of developers. The hack here is to take multiple breaks as often as your day allows for, even if it’s only twice per day. Once you integrate breaks into your workflow and block the time off on your calendar, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you give yourself (and your brain) a little downtime!
Starting out in your career is always intimidating, but throw in the new worm from home reality and the non-stop conversations about worker productivity, and it can be enough to make you feel overwhelmed.