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How To Be Productive As A Developer, Indie Hacker

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As you know. Writing code can take a lot of intense focus.

You need to concentrate for long periods. On complex things for the majority of that time.

I’ve been coding and working as a developer for well over 20 years now. In the last 10+ years, I’ve gone deep into becoming productive. More so as an Indie Hacker. Getting code into production is the most important part of being a developer.

If it isn’t out into the wild, in the world. Then it’s useless.

4 Tips To Be More Productive As a Developer

So, how do you become more productive as a developer or Indie Hacker?

How do you get the most out of those hours that you’re focused on your craft?

Here are the top tips I’ve found that help me keep focused. Allowing me to operate as a senior developer for a FTSE 100 company. And run my own business and get involved in other startups.

1) Remove Distractions

If nothing else. If you can master the art of removing distractions. This can give you a 50% boost in your output.

In the modern corporate world. More so in the software space. We seem to be having more and more meetings. They aren’t helping you become productive as a developer. It’s the opposite.

If you follow me on Twitter/X you may have seen one of my posts, calling out the Agile Framework. Adding to the distractions, not helping to reduce them.

There’s an amazing article by Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame, called The Makers vs The Managers. If you find management taking up more and more of your time with meetings. You should send them the link.

The three biggest distractions for me are email. Messaging apps, like Teams or Slack. And my mobile phone.

Email Sucks

Email is one of the greatest inventions of all time.

Also can be one of the biggest wastes of time.

The best thing you can do is to close all your inboxes. Only open them once or twice a day to respond to any emails. Also, set up an auto-reply telling people you work with that you are doing this.

One “hack” I’ve started doing. Well, it’s more of a rule. Suppose you’re Cc’ed or Bcc’ed into an email. Don’t read it, delete it. If an email isn’t directed to you. Do you even need to know about it?

I’ve also gone one step further.

If you’re on a mailing list or someone sends an email to multiple people. And the email starts with “Can someone look into ‘X'”.

Again, delete it. If they don’t respect people’s time and are willing to interrupt as many people as they can. The best thing you can do for your career is to ignore it.

Focus your efforts on writing amazing code.

Communication Apps

I hate Slack.

There I said it.

Don’t get me started on Microsoft Teams.

These communication and messaging apps are like email on steroids. People can send you all sorts at the click of a button.

What’s worse is they can see if you’re online or not.

The answer to the issue of too many emails isn’t more messages. That is shorter and more conversational. This isn’t the answer.

People need to be more considerate than that.

I treat these communication tools like I do with email. Shut them down, or set your status to away or that I’m focusing.

Mobile Phone

I won’t get on my soapbox about mobile devices.

Both amazing and awful in equal measure.

My top tip for when you want to get into deep focus when coding. Is to put your phone on aeroplane mode and put it in another room. If you work in an office, put it in a drawer, bag or coat pocket.

The goal is to get it out of your line of sight. And to stop the notifications from stealing your attention.

2) Get Organised

Unfortunately, we assume our brains are storage devices.

They aren’t

Yes, we can remember a lot of information. And it’s great to be able to recall certain information at will. But that doesn’t mean we should. Or that our brains can do that for an infinite amount of information.

This is why have a way to manage your workload. Whether that’s professionally or personally, it doesn’t matter.

Getting organised is a superpower.

If you can’t manage it you can’t measure it.

Brain Dump

The first thing you should do is come up with a way to get things out of your mind.

If you read an amazing article. Save it somewhere, somehow. Don’t try to remember the information. Or where you saw it.

Even if this is a piece of paper that’s enough.

For me, I use a combination of sharing things to Notion, into an ‘Inbox’ that I can then review at a later date. Also, I use a voice recorder on my phone to get ideas out fast. I then add these voice notes to the same Notion Inbox.

Priority

I won’t go into detail about how to do this.

Each person is different.

All I’ll say is you need a way to organise your to-do list. Expanding information as you need. Then to be able to order your tasks into some form or order.

If you’ve been in the software space then you’ve probably seen or used a Kanban board. I love getting stuff into the “Released Live” column

TOP TIP: Check out the GTD Framework. Best tasks management framework I’ve ever used.

3) Batch Tasks

I’ll start this tip with a stat.

If you break focus away from coding. It can take up to 30 minutes to get back into the flow. Even longer if you were in deep concentration.

Why is this important?

Well, the aim is to not “context switch”. Not to reply to that email, not to answer that message. Not to complete that review that your boss is asking for.

Batch different admin tasks, and do them in blocks. Do these mundane tasks end of the day when you’ve used up most of your attention tokens. The jobs that don’t take too much thinking about.

Either set 30 minutes aside at the end of the day to get all the admin shit done and dusted. If it isn’t writing code. It isn’t important.

Sometimes if I have 3 or more tasks that are similar, that need to get done then I may do these are the start of the day.

An example, is I’m trying to grow my “personal brand” on social media. That means I have to post every day and engage with other people’s content.

If I sit down every day to try and write a few posts. I get nowhere.

So I set aside time on a Saturday and Sunday morning to schedule the post for the next week.

Also every morning, I do my social media engagement before I do everything else. It gets it out of the way. Plus I don’t get distracted when I’m in deep focus. Saying I need to do this today. All it does is distract me from doing important work.

4) Look After #1

Growing up I knew a guy that was like a surrogate big brother to me.

He worked as a paramedic.

One of the things he taught me was to “look after number one”. He said this was one of the most important things he learned as a paramedic.

“If you get hurt, you can’t save the person who needs your help”

That’s where looking after yourself comes in. Why it’s so important.

What I mean here is your need to focus on your health and fitness. This includes your mental health.

No point trying to improve your productivity if you’ve no energy, are always tired, and are stressed. Feeling overwhelmed does nothing for you. I’d know, spent that last 5 years feeling like this.

Again, I won’t go into details. For me, get fitter, and adopt a lifestyle that improves your diet. Finally, if you spend an hour on your physical health each day, do the same for your mental health too.

If you do want to know what my health and fitness regimes look like. Reach out, more than happy to chat the shit about this.

Conclusion: How To Be Productive As A Developer

As a developer, coder or Indie Hacker. Your concentration may be your biggest asset.

So that means you need to protect it at all costs.

These a my top 4 tips for staying productive as a developer.

At the end of the day is about being productive. This means getting the best output you can from the limited amount of focus you can each day.

Do this by removing distractions. Getting organized. Batching tasks to be similar tasks and allocating separate time to do them.

Finally, focus on your overall well-being. If you do, you’ll find you’ll be more productive in less time. Even increase the number of hours you can focus on.

P.S. If you found this post useful? I’ve created a course showing how I use the productivity techniques to get shit done. The course is called Productivity For Developers. My goal is to make you more productive as a developer.

Using these tips I’ve been able to launch over 15+ side projects. And currently involved in 3 start-ups and work full-time. Oh, I’m married too, so still have time for a personal life.

Wait, want more tips & tricks? Yes, please!