We all do a little or more time management in our daily tasks. It has always been a practice, that we use to get things done. From lists, to prioritizing our tasks, to more advanced techniques, we try and keep ourselves organised in order to be more productive. At the end of the day we look at what we accomplished to decide if we feel it was a productive or wasted day.
As a developer you are responsible for managing your work through a set of skills, tools, techniques and knowledge that will meet the project requirements. As Napoleon once said, only properly planned things can produce a desired result, you need to be able to organize your time wisely. Therefore, a little time management is impetuous for each of us.
In this article we want to talk about different tools and practices that can help you manage your time and daily tasks. In other words, become your own project manager.
1. Plan your day
Planning your day before it starts will save you a lot of time you would otherwise loose. This is a fact. You can just look at the mass of motivational articles and daily routines of famous people, to see that a planned day is a productive day.
For us developers, the day can vary, depending on the stage the project is at. A day can start with a team meeting, then work on different tasks. But it also can be interrupted by different bugs, errors or a solution to a complex requirement, that just seems to escape you. This can be very frustrating, but rewarding when you solve it.
- Getplan – This is a great tool for very small teams or individuals that want to plan their workday right
- Todoist – Their aim is to uncluster your mind and help you keep track of your daily tasks
- Google keep – Based on lists making, very easy to use and helpful in prioritizing your day
2. Use a time limit
When planning your day, try and add a time limit for each of your daily tasks. Having a deadline for your activities will keep you on track and also motivate you to keep focus for the task in progress.
During a day we can easily get distracted. Emails, colleagues asking for our help or just an open space office with a lot of flickering and chit-chat can interrupt our train of thoughts. You are not used to estimate your work or stop after you start? Use a timer. Stopwatch, anything that will keep you on track during your tasks.
3. Reduce distractions
We can all fool ourselves that we can keep engaged and block out distractions. But that is just naive. A Facebook notification, a phone call, email, Skype, or just the coffee machine sound reminding you it is a good idea to get up and have another cup.
Interruptions kill your productivity. You should organize your day in such a manner that you have uninterrupted period of work time. Working as a developer it takes a while to get in and out of the zone. Why compromise the quality of your code, when you can simply reduce the factors of distraction surrounding you.
- Stay Focused – a free Chrome extension that lets you selectively block time-sucking websites
- Focus – a Mac app that sits in the menu bar, blocking out distractions and helping you get work done
- Rescue Time – it is a distraction killing machine. It gives you a clear report of your daily habits so you can be more productive
4. But don’t forget to take breaks
You might think we are contradicting the core of this article with this point, but hear us out. If you did in fact plan you day, used a time limit and focused on your work, then for sure you deserve a little break. These can in fact make you more productive. A clearer mind goes a long way. Short walks, listening to music or talking while having a coffee break between tasks can improve your work efficiency.
- EyeLeo – is an app that regularly reminds you to take short breaks for your eyes
- Stretchly – a cross-platform open source app that reminds you to take breaks when working with computer
- Stand up -a flexible work breaker that encourages you to stand up from your desk and move a little
5. Automating Tasks
If possible, you should automate some of your daily tasks. Because our work tends to be repetitive at times, we could save up a little with this. To automate some of your task you just have to find the right tool. In this world of development we are very familiar with the open source programs that can help us in our daily tasks, such as GitHub.
You do not have to use an existing one, you can write your own and new tool. Just keep in mind that by taking care of the mundane tasks that can take precious time, we can save up time and invest it in other tasks or projects.
Working on your time management skills will only be beneficial for you on the long run. Start with baby steps, gain a healthy and new habit of stretching at work and making lists to priorities your daily tasks. Good luck in finding the right option for you!