Hey Developer! Up your time management game

To me, the most amazing feeling in the world is, when I create something, out of nothing, by using code. I feel utterly rewarded and fulfilled when I’ve been struggling with a problem, and finally that light dawns upon me after hours of hard work and discipline. I admit, after entering the development world, I’ve derived a new-found appreciation for every piece of work out there on the internet, because now I know that someone has used all their blood and sweat behind the scenes, and it’s not all just ‘magic’.

With all the joy that comes from programming, there is bound to be some side-effects. Some of these known side effects are:

  • extreme hair pulling (now you know the secret of the developer beard),
  • mood-swings depending on how well your code for the day is going (caution: this could result in your spouse making you sleep on the couch for the night),
  • feeling overwhelmed (yet, so very satisfied once you’ve realised that you’ve totally rocked that code),
  • and the list goes on..

Being a developer has made me realise that my day can be like a roller coaster if I do not ensure structure.The number one change you can introduce to bring some order to that chaos is time management. Time management is extremely essential to ensuring productivity. Hence, I’d like to share some techniques that I use as often as possible to assist in making me more effective.

The Pomodoro technique is the secret weapon that gives structure to my day. I basically use a timer to break down work into intervals that are traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. The idea is that short periods of time yield higher focus and small, frequent breaks can improve mental agility.

There are 5 basic steps in the process:

  • Decide on the task to be done
  • Set the pomodoro timer to 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer rings
  • Take a short break for 3–5 minutes.
  • After four pomodori, take a longer break of 15–30 minutes. (Yes, we looked it up, the plural of pomodoro is pomodori)

The Pomodoro technique keeps me aware of the time passing, and assists in minimizing distractions that could lead me into non-productive Yak-shaving sessions. Personal time-boxing is said to help curb perfectionist tendencies until the appropriate time. It allows me as a developer to concentrate on the task at hand and steadily work towards an end goal. An app that I recommend using is Eggscellent. It is a visual, integrated and customisable tool that works beautifully.

In conclusion, time is not a fungible resource and unless managed correctly, can lead to a dissatisfaction in all aspects of ones life. The Pomodoro technique is mainly known for its ability in helping one keep focused and providing a systematic way to tackle daily tasks. For me, this technique was, and continues to be, a life-changer.

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