Productivity hacks from Singular’s software engineers

 In Career Tips, Self-Development, Team Stories

hether it’s an email notification, FB update, LinkedIn msg, or a missed Viber call, we are exposed to numerous sources of distractions daily. No wonder, our monkey-mind is overflowing with scattered thoughts. The biggest challenge is staying focused on one thing at a time.

But don’t be quick to blame it all on modern technology, take responsibility for your own actions.

Eliminate distractions

Disable all unnecessary notifications while coding. In addition to social media notifications, add other official communication channels used within the company, like Skype and Slack, to the distraction batch.

Dedicate specific times of the day to check your messages. – says Vladimir, Junior Software Engineer.

A practice of having your eyes (and mind) wander from the coding screen to the communication channel every fifteen minutes is prone to making mistakes.

However, this may not always be an option since you risk missing on an important note, alert or feedback when you are not reachable. For that reason, it may be better to filter your notifications instead of turning them off altogether.

Slack channel

Slack has a great option to notify you only when your name is mentioned. This way you don’t miss the critical alerts.

And how do you cope with physical distractions like a trivial conversation at the office? — Put your headphones on and “code on” 😉

Use productivity tracking apps

So, you think you are very productive? You think you have a great self-control when it comes to wasting time on Social Media? And yet, you can’t get out of the office at a reasonable time?

Well, it’s time to get real. You need a close-up measurement of every step you take Every click you make 🙂 And no, I am not referring to your supervisors here. They have more important things to do than disciplining your amusement addiction. When working in a distributed team, self-control and self-motivation is even more challenging.


If you want to really get a grasp of your working style, install a productivity tracker on your computer at work, like RescueTime. It tracks time spent at different sites. Also it categorizes the web pages in accordance with their productive or distracting nature.

It has a psychological effect, you don’t want to see that you’ve wasted a lot of time each day on distracting activities. So, you tend to improve. — Mile, Senior Software Engineer

Organize your tasks

Software developers are often involved in more than one project. Each project can be at a different stage of the development phase, exerting different levels of pressure. Joggling with various deadlines can be stressful and often negatively affects productivity levels.

The first thing you need and must do is to prioritize your tasks in accordance to their urgency and importance. Use the Eisenhower Matrix for fast and easy classification.

Eisenhower’s Matrix

The Eisenhower classification is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to what needs to go higher on your to-do list and what can be postponed, delegated and eliminated. Distributing activities in such way helps for better task management and gives a better overview of the workload.

Still feeling overwhelmed?

Use technology to your advantage. Install a task management app to keep a track of the progress in each project.

ToDoist is great for daily checklists or big plans that involve lots of people, with different due dates and multiple priorities. It synchronizes your tasks and progress across different platforms enabling for real time collaboration on shared tasks.

Google Keep is perfect for a creative mind who wants to save thoughts on the go in the form of text, photos and images, or voice notes synchronized across devices.

Eat the frog first

It is hard to predict a timeframe for complex tasks, so when you get those done, the pressure decreases and you feel a boost of confidence for the rest of the things on your to-do list.

“Make difficult tasks priority, do them first thing in the morning!” – Dejan, Quality Assurance Engineer

Before jumping to your next task, make sure to take a quality break. Instead of scrolling down your FB homepage for a quick fix, rest your eyes away from the screen for 5 to 10 minutes, stand up, walk around the office, take some fresh air.

This is particularly important for programmers and developers.

Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today

In between difficult and challenging tasks which require your focus 100%, check your work-related communication channels (Skype, Slack, email) for a pop-up task that you need to add to your To-do list.

If a task takes you less than 15 minutes to complete, DO it NOW! – Zineta, Project Manager

Don’t add minor tasks like short email replies or “call someone back” to your to-do list, simply do them now. Sometimes, having a long list of tasks has a counterproductive effect. It looks unrealistic and intimidating decreasing your determination to get to the bottom of it.

My final advice for you is: Don’t be busy, get productive.

Photo credits: Romain Vignes, Unsplash
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