The term productivity is defined as the amount of output you produce compared to input. Being a productive developer brings many benefits to you and the project you're working on.
No matter what that job may be, there are a number of ways any developer can optimise their productivity…
1. Reduce distractions
A 2018 academic study found that self-interruptions are more disruptive than external interruptions, and have a negative effect on the performance of the interrupted tasks. Self-interruptions aren't always those times when you're feeling tired and get up to grab a coffee.
They also include those times when you switch tasks before finishing the one you're working on. This has been shown to have a negative effect on your work as a whole.
But more often than not, the workplace is the destroyer of getting things done. One study found an average of almost 87 interruptions per day, while another found that people spent an average of only 3 minutes on a single event before being interrupted. It's a wonder any of us get any work done!
When looking at data related to software developers specifically, the numbers are even worse. A study from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that a programmer takes between 10-15 minutes to start editing code after resuming work from an interruption. Additionally, a programmer is likely to get just one uninterrupted 2-hour session in a day.
"Having the right workplace environment is essential to reducing distractions. It's not like you can't have any fun, but when it's time to get your head down, everyone does it and everyone's productive"
Andrew, Senior Software Developer
2. Prioritise the most important work
It’s easy to accomplish 100 small tasks to make yourself look more productive. But sometimes, you have to tackle a single, big task. But, how do you decide which tasks are the most critical?
Most development tasks within a sprint or iteration already have a priority assigned to them. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t sometimes competing tasks to consider.
The first thing to do is to list all your tasks. Next, decide what's urgent and what's important. Which tasks need immediate attention? Work that, if it is not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have serious negative consequences such as a missed client deadline, missed publication or release deadlines. These are urgent tasks
Important tasks are ones that are critical to moving the project on to its next step. These tasks may not have urgent deadlines, but are essential in order for the rest of the team to get the job done.
That's not to say that urgent tasks are not important. Sometimes they are. By listing out each job and its deadline in a logical way, you can easily prioritise your work.
3. Work less
It can sound counterintuitive, but working fewer hours per week can improve your productivity. First, you are focused on the task due to time constraints. Second, you are more inclined toward smarter solutions and the ability to find better ways of working.
Working less makes sense because we are not machines. The more hours you put in, the worse your productivity becomes. Why? Because we experience diminishing returns due to loss of energy or enthusiasm.
Each consecutive hour of work on any given day becomes a little bit less productive. The more hours we work on any given day, the less productive each hour becomes on average.
Productivity doesn't mean throwing more hours at a problem, it's about solving the problem. To achieve that, sometimes you need to step back, recharge and go again later.
4. Use Scrum
Scrum is an agile development framework that focuses on making the most out of complex coding projects. It's widely used in the IT industry and is based on "sprinting" and constant planning, rather than having a single, long milestone.
With Scrum, a team is assigned feature implementation every 2 to 4 weeks. To make sure the work is moving forward correctly, daily meetings are held by scrum masters at the start of the day.
"When innovation is the priority, Scrum is a good path to take for improved productivity. If you're a team leader, you should consider rolling out Scrum in your projects."
Ashley, Senior Back-End Developer
5. Encourage incentives
Studies show that a well-motivated software development team that follows time management could produce ten times more than a team with no motivation.
When you're feeling motivated, your productivity increases, so be sure to reward yourself at every milestone. Dev teams need to feel like they’re part of something important and they have significant impact on the project and business.
If you're a developer looking to join a productive team, talk to our specialist recruitment team today.