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Your daily productivity test


Are you a software developer? How can you be more effective on this journey of being a craftsperson? A lot has been written on this subject, the most focus on the big picture. But what about little things you can do to improve your daily work? All you need is 1% improvement to be on the trajectory of being a better developer and possibly a better human being.

Ask yourself these questions at the end of the day every day.

1. Did I create an item in the todo list?

You have completed your morning errands, and your hands are itching to start coding, but wait! Are you supposed to reply to some emails? Or complete that blog that you were writing? Or summarize last night’s call and make some technical decisions based on it? All of these things are the ones that fall through the cracks. As a developer, it’s essential to be organized. There are a zillion things “you will do later.” Make them part of your todo list, and then mark them off. Give Todoist a try. There is a rumor going that checking things off of your todo list releases Dopamine :-)

2. Did I check my calendar?

Thank god you are past your todos, and you are all ready to start coding that shiny new feature. But you are not done yet. You have to check your calendar and see if you have any important events. If you have, then you have to make sure that you are on the right track. Checking and organizing the calendar along with your TODO list should be the first thing as you start your day. It’s crucial in the world of remote working, there will be people waiting for you on calls, or you will miss something vital because you could not join a call. Make a mental note of how your day is going to look based on your calendar. If your calendar is primarily empty, then go ahead and book your lunchtime on it!

3. Did I write a test?

For many, writing tests and writing production code has no difference. Production code gets written alongside tests. But if you don’t do it already, try it. It will make your life stress-free in the long run, and seeing your tests pass one by one will give you the pleasure of success every time.

4. Did I think before naming my variables, classes, functions?

Now you have done it. You have reached the point where you start coding. You are in your flow, adding lines after lines of code. But you can’t be sure that you have thought before naming each of the variables, classes, functions. No matter how small it may sound, this one thing will make you and your teammates extremely happy. See, this is what makes you a better human being :-) you are already thinking about others, people who will read your code. This principle is just a tiny part of clean coding practices and signifies just one of them, but the point is to learn and apply all of them to your code.

5. Did I automate something that I did three or more times?

One trade-off of being a developer is getting caught in a spiral of monotonous, repetitive tasks. That leads to general unhappiness about your work. You have an opportunity to change that. Ask yourself, “Have I done this already three or more times?” If the answer is yes, then think about ways of automating it. Automation can range from sending emails to encapsulating code you find yourself writing over and over again. Believe it or not, you can send emails automatically by using Zappier or Microsoft Flow. We do it, and you should too!

6. Did I make a note?

Wait, what! Notes? Isn’t that something managers do? They do, but capturing the details of what you need to do, like thoughts on architecture while coding or even an execution plan, goes a long way. Numerous things come to our mind, either as part of team meetings or simply during showers. If you didn’t note that thought down, it would be part of those thousands of things you thought of but never got to. Often, you may take shortcuts while coding, note them down, revisit the notes, create work items from there, and fix the technical debt you created!

7. Did I commit and push something?

Now you have created the new shiny feature with the cleanest possible code, the Monalisa! Were you able to commit and push it? Understandably, you can’t push something every day. But as developers, we must strive to create stories so small that we can do commits and push every day. These practices will promote frequent releases, smaller changes, and lower risks. Of course, all of this works well if you have looked into our project kickoff checklist.

8. Did I create a diagram?

Creating diagrams can help you clear your thoughts in terms of software architecture or simply workflows. One more advantage, others can refer to it!

9. Did I read a book?

Finally, your day is over, and you are ready to go to bed. How about squeezing 10 minutes of reading? You are consuming content all the time, blogs, videos, tweets, though books are different. It allows you to choose what you want to learn deliberately. Also, the book got printed and made in your hand, which may mean the author has some authenticity on the subject and can deliver some value instead of some random tweet pushed to you. Sure, you can not read a book every day, but we mean spending 10 to 15 minutes every day doing so. Once again, 1% investment in yourself every day.

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