The life of a coder might seem like a life of monotony to those on the outside looking in, but it’s actually incredibly stimulating and creative work. Having said that, one of the biggest challenges for every coder is finding ways to block out distractions so that they can get more done. Sound familiar?
What Does it Mean to be Focused?
Focus is the art of concentrating on one specific task at the exclusion of all others. It’s about saying yes to one task, item, or responsibility, and no to everything else. It doesn’t require you to permanently reject everything else, but it does require you to presently say no.
“You always have the option to do something else later, but in the present moment focus requires that you only do one thing,” writes James Clear, New York Times Best-Selling Author. “Focus is the key to productivity because saying no to every other option unlocks your ability to accomplish the one thing that is left.”
Focus drives productivity. The more focused you are in your daily habits and routines, the more likely it is that you’ll get the results you’re seeking. Focused inputs produce optimal outputs.
Most people struggle with what to focus on, but this isn’t your issue. You know precisely what needs focus (writing code) – the challenge is how.
It’s our hope that after reading this article, you’ll have some very actionable and tactful techniques that can be implemented today, tomorrow, or at some point over the next few days.
So without further ado, here are some specific tips coders can use to stay focused and productive:
1. Watch Your Diet
Your diet does more than impact your waistline. It actually has a significant impact on your focus, concentration, and mental processing.
Food is basically the fuel that regulates your mood and energy – both of which are highly influential in focus. And if you’re looking to improve your focus on a daily basis, you should strategically optimize your diet to include foods like blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.
It’s also imperative that you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. (As much as 73 percent of the human brain is composed of water.) H2O is what gives your brain the electrical energy it needs to handle brain functions like memory and thought processes. It’s also proven to help people think faster, experience greater clarity, and be more focused.
2. Put Your Phone Away
Nothing stifles productivity quite like a text message, social media notification, or phone call. It has the ability to halt your coding in its tracks. So it stands to reason that the best thing you can do is put your phone away.
We’re not talking about setting it off to the side, turning the volume down, or even flipping it into vibrate mode. We’re talking about putting it on do-not-disturb mode and/or the silent setting.
The world won’t burn if you leave your phone on silent for an hour or two at a time. Everything will be fine! Silence your devices and give yourself a fighting chance to be a productive coder.
3. Listen to the Right Playlists
For some programmers, total silence is preferred. For most, however, it’s helpful to have some steady beats to stay focused.
The key to coding music is to choose the right tracks. You need tracks that are soft, easy, and predictable. For most people, it’s wise to avoid music with words and lyrics. Instrumental music and beats are ideal.
Here’s a good article from Smashing Magazine with some of the top Spotify playlists specifically curated for coding sessions.
4. Use the Pomodoro Technique
When it comes to focus and productivity, the Pomodoro Technique is a commonly used framework. It works a little something like this:
- Choose a task that you want to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the timer goes off.
- Take a short break (5-10 minutes).
- Start again – setting a time for 25 minutes.
- After completing four consecutive pomodoros, take a longer break (20-25 minutes)
The objective of this technique is to make focusing more approachable. When you know that you only have to stay focused for 25 minutes, you’re much more likely to do it. As a result, you get more done in less time.
5. Use a Standing Desk
Sitting at a desk for six, eight, or 10-plus hours per day is exhausting. It’s tough on your body and your mind. And while you might not be able to untether yourself from your desk, you can always switch up how you work at your desk.
One recommendation is to transition to a standing desk. This allows you to work sitting down or standing up – and you can go back and forth as much as you’d like. (Consider pairing your standing desk with the Pomodoro Technique – standing for one 25-minute session and sitting for the next.)
6. Try Website and App Blockers
It’s highly recommended that you use at least two screens for coding. One screen should be specifically dedicated to writing code, while the other is for research, email, etc. And while you’ll want to avoid the secondary screen as much as possible when writing code, sometimes using it is inevitable.
To prevent yourself from getting distracted, use website and app blockers. These remove the temptation to distract yourself and will result in much greater focus, productivity, and coding output.
7. Use Similar Daily Routines
Nobody wants to be predictable, but there’s great value in consistency. Try maintaining similar daily routines – especially in the morning – to prime your brain to be productive. If you find that a specific routine isn’t working, switch gears and give something else a shot for a few days.
At ZAGA, our team implements many of these same techniques to stay focused and productive. It’s how we produce clean and powerful code that delivers measurable impact for our clients. Interested in learning more about how you can outsource with ZAGA nearshore development to improve output and efficiency? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.