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Getting Things Done™

by Brian Faust – 3 minute read

Staying productive as a developer can be quite challenging. You need to get things done but also stay updated on all the latest technologies unless you are specialised in something. This means you need to properly plan your days and habits so that no time gets wasted but planning can be quite difficult if you’ve never had to do it.

Freelancing will help a great deal with that because you are forced to plan your days or you lose money, which wouldn’t be the case while being employed where you can slack a bit every now and then. This post contains a few tips and habits that I personally use to stay organised and get things done as fast possible to move on to other tasks.

Be Physically Active Before Working

Waking up and straight going to work won’t do you any favour in terms of productivity, quite the opposite. You’ll start working and spent the first hour trying to wake up so that you can get started.

Make it a habit to go for a walk, take your bike or go to the gym before you start any work. This will wake you up and keep your brain going so that you can be productive from minute 1 of your work day.

Stay Focused & Organized

Every day of the week you spend 8 hours working on projects but you aren’t focused for those 8 hours. Most people stop being focused after 5 to 6 hours which means that almost a third of your workday is wasted.

Keeping this in mind your goal should be to stay as organized as possible to make the most out of those 6 hours. There are several ways to achieve this and no one solution works for everyone so experimenting with different tools will be necessary to find what works for you.

  1. Todoist is a simple but great tool to stay organized with bullet points. It comes with a minimalistic UI which is distraction free and helps you to get of the ground quickly with templates.
  2. Notion is great if you are looking for an all-in-one solution to organize your tasks, notes, documents, calendars and more. The learning curve to be efficient with it can be quite steep due to the UI hiding things behind multiple clicks at times and the sheer amount of things it can do.
  3. Calendly will make your life easier by getting rid of the tedious meeting scheduling with clients. Simply set up some rules to let everyone know when you are available and they can choose a time that suites both of you.

Let It Go

Developers tend to have a hard time to let go of an unsolved issue and will do longer hours just to get it done. This rarely if ever works out because you’ve lost focus a long time ago at that point so everything takes longer and the solution won’t be good.

If you’ve been working on the same issue for 1-2 hours without any progress, just let it go and work on it the next morning with a fresh pair of eyes. This will ensure that you are focused on the issue and not getting to a point where you are looking at a problem with tunnel vision.

Keep Learning

Last but not least is probably the most important of them all. You need to keep learning new things every day or you end up lagging behind and being less productive than you could be if you had learned more about your tooling and language.

Dedicate 30 to 90 minutes a day to just learning or discovering new things. Check GitHub, DEV or HackerNews and you’ll probably find some projects every few days that will catch your interest.