Productivity Tips for Programmers

This post is dedicated to programmers who believe that spending more time on the project (in the office) is directly proportional to productivity of the programmer. Okay, I’ll break a secret here. “IT’S NOT“. Obviously you need to be in front of a computer to type, but the similarity with programming just ends there. Okay. So what should programmers do with their time?

Utilize portion of your working time honing your skills and updating on getting more productive. Here are a few simple things you can do:

1. Write Unit tests for higher productivity. (if you’re not already)

This is pretty basic stuff. But there are so many programmers who don’t do that. Well.. you should. This not only improves your code quality, it improves your productivity too. You’re not only more confident of releasing and modifying your code, you save a lot of time in the process as well.

Imagine you writing a large web application, a small code change means, rebuilding the application,deploying it and checking the feature (probably hidden under 5 links). Imagine doing it time after time. Now replace this with testing only that small change. This is a fairly practical example and with practice you can really gain a lot of time by testing effectively.

2. Practice your programming.

This is a no-brainer too. Look at other professionals. Cricketers improve their skills with ‘net practice‘. Musicians practice their instrument. Singers with their ‘Riyaaz‘. Amazingly, most of the programmers don’t practice.You should.

Take up a book like Effective JavaDesign Patterns and practice few principles per day. Take a few problems from Project Euler and solve them with your favorite language.

Unlike your regular projects, where you have a deadline, practice programs need not be time limited. So take your time. Do things the right way. With this practice your productivity will improve a lot in your regular work. It’s obvious, isn’t it.

3. Use libraries and help improve them.

There are many programmers who are library averse. They’d rather code it themselves than using a library. The primary reasons are:

  • They don’t know the library.
  • The library does lot of other things they don’t need.
  • They feel more in control with their own code.

Think about this

  • A library has been well tested and covers more scenarios,saving you lot of time.
  • When you improve on the library, it can help a larger community. Improving your private code couldn’t possibly have that impact.
  • To top it all, other folks are working on improving that library too. That indirectly helps your code.

In short, use a library unless it is too unsuited or heavy for your requirement.

4. Read code and technical stuff

Reading code and modifying is as difficult if not more than writing it in first place. There’s lot of good code available for reading in the open-source world. Pick up your favorite library and open up its code and start reading. You may not comprehend all of it immediately.. but with practice, you’ll be able to identify different patterns used and can incorporate them in your code too.

Apart from code, also subscribe to few technical blogs from good software experts and keep yourself updated on the trends.

Well, there are many other things you can do to improve your skills and be more productive in your work. These top my list. Do share things you do..

4 thoughts on “Productivity Tips for Programmers

  1. Thanks for the suggestions. Unit testing is something I will put in my practice from here on. Testing it manually is definitely a time consuming task.

    If programming on PHP and RoR, which testing tools/framework would you recommend?

    Really enjoying all your blog posts.


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