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I was recently at HDC 2014 (#HDC14 on Twitter) and a keynote by Jack Skeels from Agency Agile “Mastering Agile and write more code” was a great presentation on why Agile doesn’t always work and how we need to adapt it to our specific organizations. Why aren’t we more productive? One main take away for me was the idea of Flow (see the graph below, which I optimized for a smaller kb size, thanks to Mr. Morrell from AgencyAgile for the emailed permission to include it). If you’ve ever suddenly realized that half a day has gone by, you’ve been in the flow. It also takes 15 – 30 minutes to get back into the flow. We’re really not as good at multi-tasking as we think. How can we get more Flow in our day? I’m blessed to not have managers stopping in all the time and interrupting my work.

I’ve written about productivity before, but this got me thinking more about how to be more focused and productive.

Scott Hansleman just posted “Don’t Check your email in the morning”. I’ve lost 30 minutes to an hour sometimes checking my email, checking RSS feeds, checking the news etc. The morning is when I’m most alert and there are less distractions, so I’m really wasting that time. My reasoning was that knowing what’s going on in the world (mostly for the blogs etc) is important and I should get it done first.

Codealike.com is a great tool to analyze your interruptions and how focused you’re able to stay on coding. I’ve not spent a lot of time analyzing my data, but it’d be interesting to see if I can increase the focused time.

Here’s my first steps to improving my productivity incrementally (9/11/14):

1. I’m trying to change to not checking email, Feedly, Twitter or the news before our 9:15 am daily SCRUM (today I made it until 8:45). I’m going to try to come in and do focused work until that time.

2. I’m not going to keep checking email and news sites when the build is taking too long or I feel distracted.

2. I’m trying to use Pomodoro more (I use Mootsi.com or an app on my Windows phone), focus for 25 minutes, break for 3 – 5 minutes and disable rest breaks WorkRave for awhile. This should also be a good way to make sure I’m taking breaks for my eyes and to get up and move for a minute. I’ve found myself using the 5 minute break to work on this blog or read something or check my email. I need to make sure I’m still taking breaks for my health.

3. I’m going to interrupt others less often if at all possible and try to catch them when they are at the water cooler or up and about already. This is a difficult thing as questions arise throughout the day, but may help me think through the question a bit more before asking. However, I don’t want to sit blocked for too long. I just need too weigh the need for the question more before asking.

Scott Hanselman also has a long list of hints that are very helpful. I like the idea of the Friday reflection/retrospective and being pragmatic about what were doing as well as how efficiently.

Let me know in the comments if you have more hints to stay productive and get more done.

flow

(used with permission)

Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2014 5:48 PM Productivity , Pragmatic Programming | Back to top


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