How time management in software development should actually work

Software developers whose expertise requires creative application of computer science strive for balance of technical, business and envisaging capabilities, and perfecting time management skills seems the linchpin in achieving it.

How time management in software development should actually work
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Software developers whose expertise requires creative application of computer science strive for striking balance between technical and  creative envisaging capabilities, and perfecting time management skills seems the linchpin in achieving it.

The challenge that every software developer faces pertains to the necessity to:

...constantly keep themselves updated with an enormous amount of ever changing information.

In addition to the ongoing task of enhancing research capability to develop 'soft skills' to the level of perfection, software developers cannot do without close attention to detail and critical thinking, which are crucial for:

  • completing the complex projects in time
  • boosting their income  
  • expanding professional network
  • strategizing the growth of their business.  

To realize these ambitious goals, out of hundreds known time management skills, software developers need to opt for the ones that demonstrated their fail-proof effectiveness and proved to be of tailored fit to specific needs of software development. After all, as it was famously stated, we must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

Below, there is a list of 10 time management methods that work best for software developers and guarantee multi-fold improvement in their business productivity.

Pace yourself: Hurry slowly

Though it seems strange to encourage people not to be in hurry, especially in a software development business that demonstrates the high dependency on time allocation, we actually want to start with this very tip.

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Why it works: The point is, software development is a multi-stage process combining creative and technical aspects, which makes resilience the key factor in meeting deadlines and being agile when working in sprints. And resilience means distributing your time and energy investments equally at all the stages. So making high speed a number one priority would be a mistake as it actually can decrease effectiveness of work.    

Give your work meaning: Set goals

According to scientific studies of motivation,we as humans keep motivated much longer if we set goals before diving into work. Prioritizing not only facilitates task management but makes us allocate time and resources more efficiently because visualizing the expected outcomes enhance our adaptability skills. This is utmost important for software development executives whose work implies close attention to small detail and management of a fast-paced team within timed workflow.

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Why it works:  The productivity platforms and task management systems greatly facilitate software development team jobs as they help handle team members performance, keep track of burndown charts, forecast budgets, organize  remote team communication across time zones and track projects effectively.    

Arm yourself: Get a tracker

With the digital market on the boom, software developers are still in need of finding the instruments that would work for their specific needs. Let alone the tools and libraries that software developers cannot do without in their daily work, one of the most important tools to ensure productive outcomes of developers' job is a time tracker that would help you optimize the time allocation by recording all time entries and keeping data secure in the cloud.

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Why it works:  Using timesheets requiring manual time log is ineffective as it is hard to document by memory. Moreover, it is often met with resistance by programmers' teams. So we would certainly recommend time tracking systems as a must developers' tool due to their wide functionality on recording work time.

In addition, they supply you with the rich opportunities of extensive integrations in top project management systems favored by developers.

Be proactive: Focus on one thing at a time

We often fall into trap of believing that the more time we spend on something, the better we get. It is true to certain extent; practice and drilling make our skills automated but in case of software development this approach is unsustainable. Moreover, it might lead to time losses and burnout. The best way to allocate time wisely, software developers may apply timeboxing.

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Why it works:  Timeboxing is an unbeatable technique that helps limit time on tasks and directs the professionals to address one issue at a time. It will also prevent going off topic in Agile teams meetings.

Automate: Write scripts for tasks

Roughly speaking, software developers operate on unexplored terrain and it means that they need to fit together several processes (for example, coding and identifying the flaws on the spot). To make things easier, programmers can save tons of time on performing common tasks by preparing short scripts for the repetitive tasks.

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Why it works: Tasks performed as a part of everyday routine (for example, sending emails that differ only in greetings) can be saved as templates. The same pertains to similar tasks that can be successfully scripted. It will release time on repeating laborious tasks and let focus on challenging tasks instead.

Search stress-free: Structure file folders  

Organizing files and folders is of great importance to software developers either they work individually or in a team. It is a good practice to keep files organized to enable quick search, especially within team collaboration. So it is preferable to work with easy to navigate filing system and make sure that folders and sub-folders had brief info in the names.

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Why it works: To be able to store, retrieve and archive information is an integral part of software development so investing some time and efforts into discovering the reliable stored solutions as well as labeling folders efficiently would pay off in the actual workflow.

Fight nomophobia: Disable notifications

Nowadays, about 66% of adults suffer from nomophobia (when staying out of reach of the smartphone causes the person signs of emotional and physical anxiety).

Overall, Americans check notifications about 80 times a day.

Studies showed that any kind of interruption might result in considerable time loss for a programmer as it usually takes them up to 15 minutes to resume code editing. But there is a way of breaking a habit of self-interruption: it simply requires disabling notifications.

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Why it works: Keeping notifications switched on means endless checks on the phones, which causes self-sabotaging behavior while one of the cornerstones of programming productivity is uninterrupted work. A simple but effective trick of disabling notifications helps get focused on the task at hand to enable developer's flow state.    

Sync planning and doing: Use Scrum

Software development usually implies large-scale planning. Missing on detail can cause the disruption of the process. To avoid overlapping the tasks and deliver the desired results, it is important to create fully-synced workflow. One of the effective ways to do it is to apply the scrum methodologies that prevent any breakage within communication transfer.

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Why it works: It proved to work ideally for teams of 3 to 9 people, and it allows to react quickly to any running changes because the team members 'break' project time into chunks, which lets them keep updated without extra effort.

Listen: Rely on Audiobooks and podcasts

Why choosing listening over reading will leverage software developers' productivity is a rhetorical question. It takes the minimum of time and enables pain-free multitasking. There are special​ podcasts platforms for software developers that will surely enrich the experience of software developers.

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Why it works: Keeping updated on evolving technological trends is a must in a software developer's job. Audiobooks are a good alternative to browsing the forums as they will deliver the information on a complex subject in a structured way. And podcasts (in particular, on technical content) can help deepen the expertise without being time or energy consuming.

Unplug: Take breaks

The pressure of a deadline may cause procrastination, and its snowballing nature is what makes postponements really dangerous for software developers' work. To avoid this productivity pitfall, it is necessary not to be completely absorbed by the routine and take regular breaks to balance work and life.

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Why it works: Changing gears during the long work sessions that usually demand extreme concentration makes a positive impact on brain activity and boosts productivity.

Ignoring the break time might be detrimental both to health and work so it is essential to unplug, and there are special tips for software developers who want to master the art of taking a break effectively.

Learn more