As a developer, you read and write code — and lots of it. It might feel like it is the only thing that matters in our profession as we improve and become better.
But, more things matter when we want to become more productive and better at what we do.
In this article, I will share 20 tips that boosted my productivity and well-being as a developer big time and might work for you too.
A clean working environment grants peace of mind and can make you more productive (there have been studies).
This might sound obvious, but still: use the right tools that work for you, rather than for someone else.
Reviewing the code of other developers keeps you sharp and you might even learn new ways of doing things (or not doing things).
Coffee contains caffeine, which increases mental alertness. Rather than drinking a cup before going to bed, drink one when you aim to focus for 1-2 hours on a complex piece of code.
We all know how to commit, pull and push, but there is more: you can never be too good at it, and it's a crucial aspect of the profession.
More than often, it all comes down to the basics. Make sure you know it and that you can explain it to others (which is a sign of mastery). Basic knowledge of a language might fade, especially when using a framework.
Communication is key. Working in a team or with a client? Make sure to communicate properly and avoid making assumptions about whether someone knows a thing that you know.
As Gandalf once said, "one should never underestimate the power of a tested codebase". No, but seriously — it grants great stability and might save you a lot of debugging time in the future.
We all know how to copy and paste an error in the Google search bar and click the first Stack Overflow link that pops up. But, sometimes, asking the question yourself in a community might get you a faster, and often better answer that fits your case.
Your code might be quite complex and hard to read, even though you tried your best and the variable names are close to perfect. In this case, elaborate on it using comments. There is nothing worse than working in a complex codebase with zero comments.
Reflect on what distracts you during the day. Maybe your phone, a co-worker, or the
#general channel on Slack. Whatever it is, try to avoid it when you want to get things done.
Have confidence in your team and the people you work with. They were hired for their expertise, just like you. If you trust them, they will trust you.
Seriously, don't (unless you like to solve a lot of problems on your weekends).
Design patterns distinguish working code from good code. Learn more about design patterns that apply to your development stack.
Never let (code and non-code-related) problems escalate or exist without being seen. Look for issues early and tackle them as soon as possible.
It is okay to not know something. Ask for help when you need it and don't put in countless hours in solving something on your own, when someone else can help you out within 5 minutes.
No one is perfect: and neither is your code. Aim for functional code, rather than trying to make it perfect. If it's functional, you can always improve it to make it better later on, but know when to leave it as it is.
It is normal for a plan to change during execution. If something doesn't work as what initially looked like it would, don't hesitate: adapt to the situation and re-plan.
The implementation of a function can be different while it gives the same result. When something works, it works. Don't be too hard on yourself.
I don't see this advice very often, but it's too important to leave it out of this list. You only have one body, so be careful with it. As a developer, most of your time will be spent seated behind a keyboard and monitor. Watch your posture and don't sit down for hours. Stand up every 30 - 50 minutes (or even more often) to get yourself a drink or walk a small distance.
Many people tend to work very hard but forget about the most important thing of all: you should enjoy what you do. Not every aspect of being a developer might be as fun as the other but focus on the initial reason and things that made you choose to do this profession.
I know that this list isn't very code orientated and doesn't contain any code snippets. But, after I've been doing development for years in my free time and as a full-time job, these things are incredibly important for me to stick to staying productive and motivated. There are many pieces of advice and reminders that I would like to share, but that's something for later. I hope that at least one of these tips might help you in you and thank you for reading 🙂