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Joel Bennett
Joel Bennett

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Better productivity through consistent workspace management

Forgive me for the odd title. It's really a lot simpler than it sounds. Allow me to explain:

When woodworking, there's a few things that you learn either by doing yourself, or by watching someone else with a lot more experience. You learn things like:

  • After you are done using your pencil, always put it back in your pocket or work belt.
  • Always keep your measuring tape in the same place. You may even go so far as to attach a magnet to it, so that you can stick it to a particular metal panel screwed on the wall.
  • Clean up any sawdust after finishing a job.

By learning to be consistent with your tools and the area that you work in, you don't need to spend time hunting for the measuring tape or cleaning up from a previous job before you can begin your next task. This same thing applies to the digital world. By being consistent with how you use your tools, you will always know where to find them, and what state they are in. I see a lot of newer developers struggle with this.

Depending on the kind of work I'm doing, I'll often lay out my Windows a certain way. For example, on my two-monitor setup at work (where I do Python/Django development), on my left monitor I'll have a maximized Outlook window open (with notifications disabled), Slack (not maximized, but located in the bottom-center of the monitor), a Windows Command Prompt maximized to the right half of that monitor, a minimized Sublime window for when I need to compare two .py files, and a Notepad document containing notes that I write throughout the day. (Sometimes I will also have a few other windows minimized - PgAdmin, Skype, Putty - maximized to the left half of the window, and a PowerShell window open running UI code). On the right monitor I will have Chrome, File Explorer, and another Sublime window. Within Sublime, I always try to keep whatever document I'm working on as the left-most tab, and other documents open in other tabs for reference. With Chrome, I keep the left-most tab open for GitHub pull requests, then other tabs.

At home, my layout is a bit different. If I'm doing ASP.Net development, I'll have SQL Server Management Studio open on the left monitor, Visual Studio open in the middle monitor, and Chrome open on the right monitor.

The trick here is:

  1. Find what works for you.
  2. Be consistent with it.

By being consistent with how you treat your workspace, you'll spend a lot less time fumbling around looking for your tools and more time using them.

Discussion (1)

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gregorybodnar profile image
Greg Bodnar

This is a core strength of mine. I never lose my keys because my keys are always where I expect them to be. Find successful patterns and repeat.