Small improvements for better work and better life

Small improvements for better work and better life

Now let's talk about those small improvements we can make to our developer performance, ranging from the most known to the not so obvious ones.

In case this is the first post you're reading and want some context on why this one even exists... Here's the previous one that talks about that subject.

You can start from that one and then come back here or just dive right in on this one.

With that being said...

Let's get into it

Small improvements, big gains

What follows is a not that long list of things you could do right away to start reaping some of those productivity gains.

Some are more direct with an immediate benefit. Others will take some time to get used to but will definitely make a difference in the long run.

Let's start with...

  • Learn keyboard shortcuts: I assume you can tick this one out already because you know the shortcuts for the most common tasks.

  • Use appropriate VSCode extensions: This one is also an easy one. Whether you're using React, Node, Docker, or anything else, there are several useful extensions for those types of files. I already wrote about extensions before if you want to check that out.

  • Create aliases for Git and shell-related tasks: When you find out you're writing the same commands over and over, save yourself some keystrokes with aliases or shell scripts.

  • Get yourself some cheatsheets: Whether is Python, JavaScript, Rails, or any other language/framework. Cheatsheets save you time centralizing the specifics of what you need to know.

  • Install apps that speed up your workflow: This differs if you're using Mac or Windows. There are apps like Alfred or Powertoys which are very useful for this purpose.

  • Get some browser add-ons: To enhance your browsing and make your dev process easier, or debug React apps, or analyze the privacy of a site you're on. Even for staying updated with dev news with little effort.

  • Get a password manager: This one is useful for several reasons not only for saving you time when login into sites. There are several alternatives out there. I personally now use Bitwarden

  • Use virtual desktops to organize work: In case you work on more than one project at any given time. Having all the necessary tools with a swipe of the mousepad is very convenient.

  • Use a second monitor: If you're trying to fit several different windows in one screen, do yourself a favor a get a second one. It doesn't have to be a fancy one, I personally use a Smart TV for this.

  • Buy or make a standing desk: With remote work now being the norm, this is much more doable. Seriously we weren't built for sitting on our butts for hours on end. Stand more, stretch those legs, and move more.

  • Get a fan or cooler for your pc: This is both if you have a laptop or a desktop. When your machine starts heating up a bit much, it gets sluggish and your flow gets slowed down to a halt.

  • Upgrade your headphones: If you're using an earpiece or air buds, not only the sound isn't that good but it can damage your ears long-term. Plus, noise-canceling headphones are a godsend when you're room or house is not particularly quiet.

  • Go the mechanical keyboard route (if you like): I haven't tried this one yet. But I know several people that swear by this and geek out a lot on ergonomics and improved coding.

  • Batch your work in chunks of time: Separate your important, productive work from the minutiae. Do the former when you're in top shape and have most of your energy.

  • Use the magical button on your phone: By that I mean the "airplane mode" button in your phone. You may not think it's much of a big deal now but you'll see the gains when you can get done stuff without the incessant distractions.

  • Take breaks and move around regularly: This helps for a lot of different reasons. One of those is the added benefit of increasing your NEAT level. This improves your physical condition and helps control weight without wasting time doing cardio. (Isn't that NEAT?)

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day: Not only water if that's not your thing. Tea and fruit juices work too. Go easy on the caffeine as well.

  • Do some exercise regularly: This is related to the other points. You don't have to go to a gym. I don't do that either, especially in these times. You can go very far with a set of resistance bands and some High-Intensity Training (HIT). This a good primer on the topic. Give it a read to this one as well

  • Take the time to eat properly: By that I mean real food, not ramen noodles, burgers, pizza, or any other mid to highly processed food. Get some good ol' protein, starchy carbs, and natural fats like oils, nuts, avocados, and fatty fish. Your body will thank you for it.

  • Switch from work mode to rest mode: This is a tough one nowadays, but you need to have a cutoff time. Communication is important to make this work but put a limit to the working hours. Past certain hour is only you and other activities that will relax and nourish you.

  • Cut out screen time before bed: At least half an hour before bed, stop using any screens or electronic devices. Give your brain some time to start winding down. Even dim the lights if possible. This is to help your body adapt to nighttime and start producing some good, helpful melatonin.

  • Don't use your phone first thing in the day: If you put the phone outside the bedroom the previous night, this one takes care of itself. If not, put it somewhere difficult to reach. Get yourself an actual alarm clock from Amazon. There are several cheap ones. This is a big win long-term.

  • Get your room clean and tidy: You've heard this one before. It's especially true if you're working from your bedroom. You know the saying... "cluttered room equals a cluttered mind."

  • My personal favorite: Is this one. The Wim Hof Method. Get your mindfulness, an improved immune system, and your overall fitness sorted out with one simple and powerful practice.

I could keep on going, but these are good ideas to get you started.

You can start implementing these to improve your work and overall well-being. Pick one you are not doing right now and commit to doing it for at least a week and see how it goes.

Remember that the first days aren't going to make much of a difference so don't discard any of these right away if you don't see any noticeable changes initially.

As I said before, take baby steps and build upon your base of essentials to keep progressively improving and moving forward.

That was all for the moment. Thanks for reading so far. See you in the next one because...

I'll be back

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash