How to improve productivity for a web developer

Here are some tips to improve productivity for a web developer based on my own experience. I work as a web developer since 2010 so I know what to do to improve my own productivity on the work.

Sorry if this sounds more like personal growth advice, but they work for me.

Pursue this feeling first: Relax

When I am in a relaxed condition, my experience shows that I can solve the problem quicker. I also finish more tasks on hand. Besides those, I always notice more details in the work.

When I am not, I often procrastinate. Easily got bored. Then, my mind usually ends up wandering somewhere else. When this happened, usually I will step up from the screen.

Otherwise, I may end up:

  • reading the news

  • browsing Reddit

  • watching a movie on Netflix or Youtube

  • reading the manga online.

And it’s not good. So, when I don’t feel relaxing, I step up and do some off-screen activities like:

  • walking around in the garden.

  • eating my favorite healthy snacks (don’t ask what are they)

  • sitting somewhere, try to meditate mindfully.

Listen more to the body

In the past, I often ignore my own body. I often ignore my stomach is growling because it asks something to fill.

Another one is I also often ignoring the feeling of thirsty. The feeling that I need to drink some waters.

This usually happens when I am in the middle of tracing the bug or pursuing to finish the task as soon as possible. Although the deadline is still far away.

I just realize this later when I am not feeling well. Got a sore throat and diagnosed to begin to have an ulcer.

From this point, I always try to listen more to my own body. Because, when I am not feeling well or even worse: getting sick, it will decrease my productivity.

Do sports regularly

Do your own favorite sports regularly. This will help to keep your body and mind healthy. Without it, don’t ever think about improving the productivity. Instead, you’ll see your productivity keeps going worse and worse.

Personally, I did morning walk regularly. Then, do two or three sessions (each of 20-30 minutes) of treadmill every week.

Try to be less stressful

As a web developer, I often encounter a challenge. Some of them even harder to tackle. Fortunately, I work with some nice clients. They always communicate their needs very clearly.

To avoid being more stressful, I always try to avoid my own perception. When anything is unclear, I don’t hesitate to ask them about it.

Instead of drowning with my own perception and continue the implementation which may lead to the wrong way, I prefer to discuss with them first, to make the requirement crystal clear.

By avoiding to waste the precious time of all parties, I can try to be less stressful.

Go easy

I always take my tasks very seriously. I pursue to finish them asap even when the clients said “no rush”.

Yet, I also tend to take many things seriously. Even some events that are not under my control such:

  • Updates on tools I always use. Later, I realize that it’s the nature of this tech industry. Even more, it’s the nature of life. Everything will change and we can’t prevent it.

  • Negative feedbacks from some folks on some tech forums where I participate.

I never realize this until I come across the “mindfulness” term. Now, I learn to let go of the things I can’t control. Once I can let them go, it’s easier to go easy on myself.

If not, I will just hurt myself more and eventually my own productivity as a web developer.

I always try to avoid mistake but when it happened, I just calm down myself and think: well, everyone makes a mistake. Just learn from it so I won’t fall to the same mistake again.

Be more mindful

Yes, I always try to be more mindful of the task on hand. I keep myself from worrying about the next tasks or upcoming ones.

Additionally, it is very helpful too, to be more mindful of the specification of the task.

Focusing my attention on the details of the task specification often reduces the effort to revise or redo the task later.

Never hesitate to ask

I never hesitate to ask the higherups when anything is unclear for me. I’ll pursue it until I got crystal clear understanding before I go with implementation.

This is very important so I have confidence that the implementation I am working on is the correct one.

Always be technically clear

When a task is difficult or a bit more complicated, and I realize it along the way, I always give clear updates to higherups.

I explain politely. The task is a bit more complicated so I need more effort and time to tackle this.

If I am a part of the team, I don’t hesitate to ask my fellow worker to see if he/she had gone through a similar problem.

Most of the time, I got a clear direction for such an effort. That leads me to finish the task faster.

Never afraid of bug or error

There’s a short story about this. When I was still a Computer Science student, one of my masters told me:  Even Microsoft Windows had bugs. That’s why they keep releasing updates and patches. So, don’t be afraid of them when you’re building software.

It’s just the nature of software development. Both bugs and errors.

No matter how hard I avoid such bugs or errors, they will keep coming up.

Don’t forget the automated tests

This is where the unit test, feature test, and integration test come into the play.

With automated robust tests, it will be easier to detect the bugs or errors earlier after some updates.

Even better when those automated integrations tests are running to check before the deployer script decides to deploy updates on the live site.

With such good tests, your life as a developer will be easier. Adding a new feature or fixing bugs will be checked against the defined tests before it goes to live and breaks everything.

Avoid unnecessary things

Like participating in a debate about the new feature. I do participate in the technical discussion, but I always try to avoid a debate about  how the new feature should be like.

My role is as a developer. I let the higherups and clients themselves to decide what feature to add. However, I would be happy to give a technical discussion.

On top of that, I don’t want to waste my precious time to participate in unnecessary things. My purpose is to take care of my tasks as soon as possible and move on to a new task, or else, take a rest.

Also, avoid multitasks

It just ruins the quality of work for each task. I never want to work on multitasks. When I need more time on the task on hand, I always notify the project owners so they won’t ask me to take care of another task.

Don’t forget to do things I love

We, developers, are also ordinary human beings. We need entertainment, we need a vacation. We need to take a break. Sometimes, we feel stuck and bored.

I handle such things by practicing mindful breathing or mindful walking. I know this is completely unrelated to techs, but such practices do help me to improve my productivity as a full-stack web developer.

Last: try to love it

I love to work as a developer. Solving a hard problem is fun. It feels good. With such love, I can overcome any obstacles and difficulties along the way.

I won’t easily surrender when I face the new hard, and complicated tasks.

Conclusion

Improving productivity as a web developer is a continuous effort for me. There are some that did not work, which I let go. There are some that did work well and I keep doing that.