How to stay focused on your work

Have you ever been working on a project when a support issue came up? You spend time working on fixing their problem. Five minutes, one hour or even a couple hours you have it solved and fixed. Your customer is happy. You return to your programming project. Now, you can’t even remember where you left off.

How to Stay Focused On Your Work
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Interruptions like support issues, coworkers asking questions or meetings can prevent you from staying focused on your work. What can you do to help concentrate on your work?

You can manage the things you can control like environment, distractions and time management.

Environment

Whether you work from home or in an office, you can control certain things about your workspace.

Chair, desk and computer

You will spend a lot of time sitting at a desk. Your chair and desk should be comfortable for you to work at. If it isn’t, ask for a different one. Consider buying cushions or pillows to help support your back. You can ask for keyboard trays and monitor risers to adjust the height of your computer monitor and keyboard. Or switch to using a standing desk.

Are you warm or cool enough?

Most offices are not comfortable for everyone. Some people are either too cold or too hot. You may want to bring in blankets, sweaters, space heaters or even a fan to make yourself comfortable.

Do you like to listen to music while you work?

Music can help you work. Choose the type of music that inspires and motivates you while you work.

Keep water handy

Water helps you stay alert and hydrated. Dehydration can affect your ability to focus. You want to drink water while you are working.

Distractions

Your phone and emails can affect your productivity. You can manage how you use your phone and how often you check your email.

Your phone

You can make your phone less distracting. Consider putting your phone in silent mode and choose to look at it durning specific times per day. Or install an app that allows you to control how you use your phone.

Emails

Emails can demand your attention. How often to you check your email? If you don’t know the answer, you make be checking it too often. Try these tips for managing your emails.

Time Management

Find a time management strategy that works for you. You can try the Pomodoro technique, Time Blocking or 80/20 rule. Each one of these strategies helps you to manage your time, stay focused on your task and limit distractions.

Staying focus throughout the day can be challenging. By managing your environment, time and distractions like your phone, you can stay focused on your tasks much easier.

Tips for Managing Productivity as a Developer

Do you manage your time or does it manage you? If you are like a lot of people, time manages you. As a developer, you need to handle distractions, projects and people. It can be difficult to manage distractions, maintain focus and get your work done.

Tips For Managing Productivity as a Developer
Image by 3209107 from Pixabay

How can you maintain your productivity? You can try these tips below to improve your focus and get things done.

Manage Interruptions and Distractions

You have to deal with distractions like Email, Social Media, notifications and more. Here’s a few things that you can try:

  • Decide when you are going to look at Email. You may want to look at email once or twice a day.
  • Mute all notifications from Slack and Social Media.
  • Put your phone away.
  • If you work in an office, close your door. Or put up a sign letting them know that you are working on a project and need to focus.

You don’t have to stay stuck on a problem

When you are coding, you can run into a problem that you can’t solve. No matter what you try it doesn’t fix it. When that happens, you can take a short break. Five to ten minutes away from the problem can really help. If a break doesn’t work, try working on something else. Doing something simple and easy can be the break that you need.

Create a library of code snippets

You’ll find yourself using the same snippet of code over and over again. Instead of searching your repos for it, you can create a library of snippets. By having a library, you can search and use those snippets faster.

Here’s a few ways to store your snippets:

  • Use a folder on your hard drive
  • If you write code in Visual Studio, you can collect code snippets with Code Snippets Manager
  • Use online tools like CodePen and Github.
  • CSS-Tricks has a collection of code snippets

Schedule and Take Breaks

When you are in the coding zone, you can forget to take breaks. If you try to push through a project without a break, you could burnout. To avoid forgetting, you can schedule your breaks. When you take a break and how long depends on which productivity method you prefer.

When you take a break, don’t start a new task. Take the time to get away from your computer. Stretch, walk, get some water or coffee.

Plan out your tasks

Why plan out your tasks? Planning helps you to know what you want to do and prevents you from forgetting things. You can use a to-do list, a bullet journal or an app like Trello to plan and track your tasks. Whatever method you use, it can help you get more done.

Pomodoro Techinque

When you have a long list of programming tasks, it can be hard to finish them and meet deadlines. The Pomodoro Techinque helps you to focus on one programming task at a time. The key is to work on one task for a specific time. You can use 25 or 50 minutes. When the time up, take a short break and repeat.

How to plan a project?

Projects can be large or small. They can be finished in 24 hours or take months even years to complete. Whether you are working on a project for yourself or a client, you need to create a plan. Your plan can be as simple or detailed as you need it to be. A simple coding plan covers things like what I am going to make, tools I need, steps needed to complete project, sketch out your designs, plan your code and schedule time to work on it.

How To Plan a Project
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Decide what to make

The best projects fall somewhere between things that you enjoy doing and things that allow you to learn marketable skills. If you are working on a side project or a hobby, you want to make certain that it has these elements. When you work on client projects, you may not get a project that has both. All projects can provide you with the opportunity to learn something.

Coming up with ideas for personal or side projects can be hard. By keeping a project notebook as Amie Chen does, you’ll have plenty of ideas to choose from. You can also ask your friends what problems they are having or try one of these ideas.

Pick the tools you want to use

Whether you are going to use a new framework or sketching tool, you should make sure that you have everything that you’ll need. Need new software? Install it. Photos? Download or purchase them. Make sure you have what you so you can set up your space for working on your project right away.

Plan the steps to complete your project

When you are first starting a project, it is easy to get excited about it and want to start building right away. Don’t. Plan out your project. Use a process called backwards planning. Start with your end goal. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and write down clear steps and milestones that you need to achieve this goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you can revise as needed later.

What about extra things that you didn’t plan for? You may discover that you need a few extra things. if you are using an API, you may need to sign up for a developer key. Add them to your plan as you learn about them so you don’t forget to do it.

Design

Design is more than making it look pretty. It can be helpful to sketch out your designs before building an app. By sketching it out, you can decide what features to include, how people will use it and how it looks.

Plan your code

Start small. Think about the steps that the user needs to do in order to accomplish something. Break your code down into functions. By breaking it down, you make it easier to write your code.

Schedule time to build it

Look at your schedule and plan time to work on this project. You may need to stop doing less important things like watching TV.

Stay healthy and keep coding

Do you play, work and learn using a computer? The way you use a computer may be harmful to your health. It can affect your posture, hands and more. When using a computer becomes painful, it can change how you use it. You may think that you need to stop programming.

Stay Healthy and Keep Coding
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

To prevent that, you can focus on these 5 ways to stay healthy and keep coding.

How's your posture?

When you are coding you can get into the flow and forget about maintaining your posture. Check the way you sit or type periodically. If you need a reminder, have your computer remind you a couple times during the day.

Take regular breaks

Both your brain and body benefit from regular breaks. Depending on how you work, you many need to take a break every 45 to 90 minutes. One technique Pomodoro has you taking a 5 minute break every 25 minutes.

Optimize your workspace

When you work at a computer all day, it should suit your needs. Customize your computer to work for you. Try different type of setups. A new keyboard, mouse, chair or even a standing desk.

Move more

Moving can help you think better. Stuck on a problem, go for a walk. Find an exercise that you like to do and schedule it. By making it an appointment, your more likely to do it. Don't want to exercise alone? Get a buddy to exercise with. A buddy can help make exercise fun and make you stick to it so you don't disappoint them.

Eat better

Do you know what you are drinking and eating? Most people when they get busy or into the flow reach for what is easy and available. They don't pay attention to what they eat or drink. What can you do to optimize your eating habits? Make small changes. Swap out your afternoon snack with a fruit or vegetable snack that you enjoy. Buy a water bottle that helps you to drink more water during the day.

Want to increase your productivity as a programmer? You need to optimize the way you take care of yourself and develop a plan for staying healthy. The Healthy Programmer can help you change your work habits.

Moving to Markdown

What is your writing process? Whether you write a blog or technical documentation, you need to have a process. Not just a writing process, but a process for getting your work in a format that can be published on the web. My process is writing, converting to hypertext and publishing. It works, but it can be cumbersome adding the html code to my writing. What can I use instead? Markdown.

Moving to Markdown
Photo by: Free-Photos

What is Markdown?

Markdown is a way to write for the web. It is text to html conversion tool. The goal was to make it as readable as possible without looking like it was marked up with a bunch of formatting code. This simple system was created by John Gruber.

When you write HTML, it can get very complicated looking with the tags and extra formating:
HTML Code Screenshot

With Markdown, it looks much simpler:
Markdown screenshot

Changing your writing process

Markdown is easy to learn. The syntax is very simple. In five minutes or so, you can start writing in Markdown. You can use either a text editor or an app for Markdown.

What if you don’t want to use a special app? You can install it in IDEs like Atom or Visual Studio. With an IDE like Atom, you can use the preview mode to see how it will look in a browser before you publish your writing.

Want to get started learning Markdown? Start with this Markdown tutorial. It goes through each concept one lesson at a time. You can also use this cheatsheet to look up how do write Markdown.