Having a streamlined software development workflow is crucial for any developer to ensure they are being productive and accomplishing tasks. A productive development workflow is an essential skill for your success as a developer.
I’m not talking about working late nights or never taking breaks; It’s more about learning to set your priorities and goals and protecting your precious time.
All of this is especially important if you’re a beginner developer who is new to the software development industry. You have a window of opportunity to lay a strong foundation for making every day successful and avoiding bad habits. This is not to say that if you are an expert developer, you always employ a great software developement workflow.
If you learn to use the right tools and set the proper habits, increased productivity will lead to more happiness and work-life balance, more fun at work, increased respect from peers, and many opportunities for advancement in your field.
If you are looking to improve your product development workflow, content development workflow, or web development workflow, you are in the right place! To help you set the right foundation, here are 10 of the best tips to improve software development productivity.
1. Automate Everything You Can
Why spend one hour a day performing the same repetitive task in your software development workflows when you could spend that time automating your chores forever?
In my job, for example, I realized that I spent a lot of time looking for tickets assigned to me on GitHub, so I wrote a little script that automatically sorts them and shows them to me in my note-taking tool.
Little actions like these can save you hours in the long run. Automating repetitive duties, from pushing to GitHub, importing Gists from GitHub, or migrating the DB, allow you to focus on the bigger challenges you need to tackle.
Today, try to look at your daily workflow and ask yourself: which repetitive tasks could be automated and how? Like using AI code review tools to automate code review in your backlog, saving you time. Taking actions like this are a surefire way to improve developer productivity.
2. Use the Command Line
The command line is the secret weapon of every expert developer. You’re probably already using it every day to start the local servers of your app, but if you can take the time to explore and master this tool, it will do wonders for your development workflow.
Navigating through UI, working with Git — all of these operations take a lot less time when you grasp a few good command-line instructions.
💡 Pro tip: If you want to streamline your developer workflow with a CLI even further, take a look at the complex commands that you frequently run and write aliases for them.
3. Take Regular Breaks
As a human being, you have a maximum attention span. Don’t expect to be highly focused for eight hours straight. Instead, shorter bursts of work are much better for your software development workflow.
Try to work on a time frame of forty-five minutes to one hour with breaks in between. You’ll notice many benefits, including:
- Increased focus: By reducing the number of connected hours you have to focus, your brain will be less overwhelmed and more able to concentrate.
- Easier to resist temptations: If you know you’ll have breaks during the day, you’ll be more inclined to focus on your current task and not let your mind wander.
4. Remove All Distractions
According to a study conducted by the University of California Irvine, if you get distracted, it will take you an average of twenty-three minutes to regain control of the task you were busy with. Imagine how much time you could have saved by eliminating all of the distractions around you!
Coding is an attention-heavy job; you must be highly focused on your workflow in software development activities if you want to accomplish something. When it comes to measuring developer productivity, your overall efficiency is highly affected by focus and prioritization - not just checking things off your to-do list.
When it’s time to work, make bad habits harder to pursue. Turn off your phone completely, or leave it where it’s hard to reach. If you’re working from home, ask your family not to distract you.
Don’t listen to music if it can be a source of distraction, or use relaxing sounds like lo-fi to help you focus.
“Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change.”- James Clear
5. Don’t Multitask
During your work day, you might be tempted to switch between multiple tasks. While you’re reviewing code, you may switch back to debugging your latest feature.
When you do this, you’re actually forcing your brain to reset every time you switch between contexts. Whenever you task switch, it takes a long time to get a hang of what’s happening.
Plus, context-switching is highly time-consuming in a software developer workflow. If you want to work on two different features, you have to switch branches, restart the server, and download each branch’s dependencies.
Don’t try to rush. Focusing on one task at a time is always better than trying to achieve ten different things at the same time.
6. Communicate with Your Peers
Being stuck on a problem is frustrating, and you might be tempted to not share your issue with your colleagues out of fear of being judged as a bad developer.
Remember, your colleagues have the same goal as you — to deliver a working solution that clients will want to use. Never hesitate to ask for their help or opinion.
I usually follow this rule of thumb: if I’ve been stuck on the same problem for more than two hours, and if I’ve tested all possible solutions I could think of, I will contact one of my colleagues. It’s really one of the best developer productivity hacks!
7. Plan What You’re Going to Do for the Day
Your time is always going to be limited, which is why you should focus on prioritizing certain tasks over others.
Every morning, or even the night before, write down exactly what you must accomplish during your work day. Don’t aim to compile a list with thirty items. Focus on just 3-5 items, or you will risk burning out or and feeling accomplished.
Also, be specific about what you want to do. Don’t say, “Tomorrow I will do some code reviews.” Instead, say, “Tomorrow, from 4 pm to 6 pm, I will review two pull requests.”
This might be one of the most simple developer productivity tips, however, it is also one of the most effective. Having a set plan or goals that you want to achieve in a given day is one of my favorite developer tools to increase productivity!
8. Never Strive for Perfection
At the beginning of your career, you might be tempted to try and write the most perfect solution for the problems you’re facing. You will obsess over a few lines of code, trying to make them perfect.
This behavior will take you in exactly the opposite direction that you expect. It will slow you down tremendously, even for the easiest tasks.
“Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort. When good enough gets the job done, go for it.”- Jason Fried
Don’t strive for perfection when writing software. Remember: there’s never a perfect solution, but there is a good solution for your particular case. You will always have to find a compromise between readability, maintenance, and performance.
Strive to deliver code that works, is readable, and can be scaled in the future. At the beginning of your career, this is one of the most reliable ways to improve developer productivity. And remember, as the author of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup, always like to remind us in his book for beginning developers:
“Perfect is the enemy of good.” –Voltaire
9. Start with Complex Tasks First
As Brian Tracy, the famous author of the book Eat That Frog, says, you should always start your work day with the most important tasks for yourself.
How do you find the most important task for you? Identify the thing you can do that makes the biggest impact on your work.
Is it creating new features? Bug fixing? Reviewing code?
Identify what it is, and then start your day with that task.
You might have noticed that your energy levels decrease during the day. If you focus on the most important task first, you can handle less demanding tasks at the end of the day when you’re exhausted.
This development workflow habit not only increases your morale during the day, it also helps your career progress faster.
10. Leverage Development Workflow Tools
This developer productivity tip might be the most impactful on the list, as it combines several other developer productivity hacks. You know that you need to automate everything you can and avoid multitasking, but the smartest developers leverage their tools to make this fast, reliable, and often free.
There are thousands of tools to increase developer productivity on the market that can help you with everything from automated code review, to auto-complete, to focusing by caring for a virtual pet while you code.
For one of the most complete suites of development workflow tools, try Pieces for Developers. Pieces for Developers is the fastest way to save, enrich, reuse, and share your code snippets. With just one click, you can save all your most important lines of code without ever breaking your software development workflow. Users have access to the VS Code extension, JetBrains plugins, and Google Chrome extension. These tools are one of the most comprehensive ways to improve your productivity and collaboration. Best of all, it’s free.
After all, as Addy Osmani said:
“Craftsmanship is choosing your tools well.”
Productivity is one of the skills you must learn for a successful and fulfilling career. You don’t want to spend your days in frustration, feeling like you accomplished nothing. Knowing how to measure developer productivity and improve your workflow in software development is key for you to save time and achieve tasks effectively.
These 10 tips to improve your software developer workflow will help you to set the foundation to achieve more satisfaction, garner higher pay, receive more peer recognition, and create more opportunities.