7 Secrets for Techies to Become More Productive

Inside an environment highly demanding with frequent interruptions, people who work with technology need to be careful with their productivity. For that reason, I’m revealing seven secrets from my own experience. I hope they can be useful for you too.

Secret #1. Have a purpose

Firstly, do you really need to be more productive? Be more productive without a purpose is like a boat travelling on the high sea, going faster to anywhere. With a good purpose, your productivity will flow. Describe a purpose using objectives with goals. An objective is qualitative, like to work with new technologies to grow up in your company. A goal is quantitative and needs a deadline, like read three books of agile software development in the next two months. Each objective has goals, and each goal will be divided in tasks.

Secret #2. Work on a prioritized list of tasks

Make a list of all tasks that you need for your goals. How to prioritize tasks? Look to the importance and the urgency of each task. You can use apps running on the cloud to automatize your lists, like google.com/keep, todoist.com, evernote.com and rememberthemilk.com.

Secret #3. Visualize your progress

You will need small rewards, day by day, visualizing your work done. For that, you can use a task board, also called kanban board. A good app on the cloud is at trello.com.

Secret #4. Give the next step soon

Sometimes, you have so many important tasks to do that you might prefer to procrastinate. So, give the next step soon. Don’t wait a perfect moment. Just pull a task and start. Task by task, you will be rewarded with the feeling of accomplishment and motivation.

Secret #5. More focus

Focus is the key to be high productive. It happens when you use all of your capability for only one task. For this, use short periods of times (15-90min) to have high focus, avoiding at most anything that can interrupt or distract you. A simple and powerful technique for that is the Pomodoro Technique. One Pomodoro is a period of 25 minutes to work in one task each time, avoiding all distractions and interruptions. Set an alarm for each Pomodoro, you can use the alarm in your smartphone. Between two Pomodoros, take a short break of 3-5 minutes. Every four Pomodoros, take a long break of 15-30 minutes. There are some nice apps for that like e.ggtimer.com/25min or marinaratimer.com.

Secret #6. Take care of your energy

Yes, even techies need to care about the energy. Your mental and physical energies are the fuel of your productivity. So care about your nutrition, your hydration, your sleep, your body doing  stretching and physical exercises, mainly the aerobic ones. You might boost your mind with meditation or mindfulness. If you have never meditated you might try the onemomentmeditation.com, or insighttimer.com.

Secret #7. Productive habits and routine

You need discipline to achieve high productivity in a short term. However, for a long time, you will need to care about your habits and your routine. Use your discipline to make productive habits, starting to build a routine during the first weeks. To acquire new and more productive habits is a process that might require some effort and time.

Top Secret #8

Yes, a top secret. Be resilient! Sometimes everything seems to go wrong for your productivity among interruptions and distractions. Don’t give up, persist! Face it like a challenge.


Image by Matthias Ripp, under license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

TDD is a practice like swimming

A reader of our eXtreme Programming book asked us a guide to move from 0% TDD programming to 100% (or almost) TDD programming. But, there’s no manual that will really teach TDD, because it’s a practice. We could use a metaphor to explain it, TDD is like swimming, an activity that we practice.

Yes, TDD can be very hard at first time. Like swimming, you might not have enough breathing discipline, getting tired faster and giving it up. And after say “I didn’t like swimming, swimming is not for me”.

As a swimmer needs to jump in the water, a programmer needs to start with a failing test, write code until the test works, and refactor. And repeat these steps a lot of times. It’s a cycle, it’s a mantra:

TDD mantra: write a failing Test, Code until pass the test, so Refactor.

After a lot of TDD cycles, you will be understanding how to practice TDD. So, please, jump in the water and enjoy TDD.

— Thanks to Guilherme Motta for the review.