Productivity apps are the new big thing. The concept of continually improving the quality of your work, concentration, and overall output has become a huge trend, and it has its indisputable merits. Along with the most obvious benefits, productivity tools help professionals establish a healthy life to work ratio, which is also a severe problem in the modern job market.
In this article, we’ve compiled a set of X powerful productivity tools that will help you better focus on the task at hand and execute it better and quicker than you usually would. While there is a range of tools that we’ll discuss below that can be used by professionals that aren’t necessarily part of the IT crowd, others are exclusively developer-oriented. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
General Purpose Services
Before we look into the more developer-oriented tools, let’s take a look at the ones that can considerably benefit developer, along with a broad spectrum of professionals from other fields.
This service is impressive and has a considerably more science-based approach to what used to be called “binaural beats”. Brain.fm provides its users with the music of various styles and genres that are combined with AI-generated auditory beat stimulation, which allows your brain to focus, meditate, and even sleep better, depending on the presets you’ve chosen.
All you have to do is listen to their music for at least 10 minutes, and you’ll feel a considerable boost in the quality and duration of your focus. Their team features neuroscientists and developers, who are continually working on improving and popularizing the product. Definitely a tool worth checking out, they also offer 5 free sessions for you to check out its effects.
This one is really straightforward, but it absolutely instrumental in ensuring consistent focus. Freedom is a go-to tool when it comes to eliminating distraction from your workflow. The truth is that we rarely open social media sites like Facebook intentionally, we’re also rarely mindful of engaging in a distracting activity, because, well… we’re distracted.
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So if social media sites keep creeping into your working day, depleting you of concentration — Freedom is the way to go. You can simply block those out of your working hours. And it doesn’t necessarily have to do with social media. We get distracted from all kinds of unnecessary stuff, that is secondary to or even has nothing to do with the work we do.
So in order to be in control of the sites, you visit during working hours, or just the hours you need maximum concentration, you can rely on Freedom to block those sites for you.
Focusmate’s central scope isn’t exactly to improve your focus directly, like Brain.fm does, for instance. It’s all about pushing yourself to get things done, and honestly, it’s one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll surely get through your tasks, especially the ones that you’re not really a fan of. You know, like doing your taxes, that kind of stuff.
So how does it work? Focusmate works like a digital co-working space. It allows you to schedule 50-minute sessions with fellow focusmates, which is also going to be working on a specific task. There is a basic protocol you have to follow when connecting to a partner. You take a few seconds to greet each other, then you proceed with exchanging the tasks you’re going to be working on for the next 50 minutes.
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At the end of the session, you’ll both report to each other on the amount of work you’ve managed to get in, which allows establishing “digital accountability,” a term popularized by the platform. It’s free, it’s simple, and it’s very effective. There are lots of software developers on Focusmate, simply because it allows you to get through your tasks with maximum efficiency.
Niche Productivity Tools
Now, let’s delve into more developer-centric productivity tools. The ones below, have to do with time tracking, project workflow optimization, and source workflow optimization.
Accountability is an essential component of productivity. Without a proper understanding of your time distribution and the number of hours you spend on such-and-such tasks, you won’t be able to optimize your workflow. In a nutshell, TimeCamp is a time tracking service, which provides you with a host of data on the time you spent on working and the tasks you’ve executed.
With TimeCamp, you’ll be able to divide your tasks into smaller subsections and get a better understanding of what activities tend to bog you down. More importantly, you’ll be able to provide your customers with highly accurate invoices on the work you’ve executed, due to the fact that the app can distinguish between “billable and non-billable” activities.
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This is an essential project management tool, which allows teams to divide and conquer their projects, by breaking them down into intelligible and actionable subsections. The tool will enable teams to visualize their progress within and assign tasks to individual teammates. Furthermore, it also allows you to manage dependencies.
To some extent, Asana resembles Trello, an older, slightly clunkier predecessor that has revolutionized project management. Asana recreated Trello’s “Kanbanesque” dashboard, which allows project managers and teams to organize and distribute tasks and subtasks.
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There are many reasons why Asana is an essential tool for productivity. First off, it favors prioritization. It allows workers to focus on the most critical tasks. Secondly, Asana seamlessly integrates with a host of tools and services like the G Suite, Dropbox, iCal, and others.
6. The Silver Searcher
Developers waste a significant amount of time searching the right pieces of code, which, in effect, can considerably decrease productivity. The Silver Searcher (a.k.a. Ag) is easily among the most popular code-searching tools out there.
Ack is another very popular code-searching tool, yet Silver Searcher has a considerable advantage over it — speed. Ag works 34 times faster than its counterpart, and speed is an essential component of productivity.
Here’s the creator’s performance comparison:
- ack test_blah ~/code/ 66s user 4.82s system 99% cpu 1:50.03 total
- ag test_blah ~/code/ 67s user 4.58s system 286% cpu 3.227 total
The tool is available for major operating systems: Windows, MacOS, Linux, and the Berkeley Software Distribution.
Productivity Tips for Developers
Now that we’ve discussed tools, we need to also briefly look into the ways we approach work.
7. Decluttering Your Space
The negative impact of a messy desk is real. In order to remain concentrated for more extended periods of time, it’s essential to eliminate all unnecessary distractors from your table. Even a misplaced receipt can cause you to drift and daydream for ten minutes and then make you Google stuff you might not even need, all that from a small piece of paper.
If you do appreciate productivity, and you’re looking to maximize your output, try starting your day with doing some brief “housekeeping.” Make sure your phone is out of your reach. Notifications will make force you to focus on the things that have nothing to do with your work, and they’re distractive even if you ignore them. They’re designed to do that.
8. By All Means, Don’t Multitask
Yeah, doing it all at the same time is really alluring, especially in tech circles, because we like to identify with the machines we work on. We process a whole lot of operations, and this is suggestive of our mental capacities. However, humans aren’t really built that way.
Multitasking can easily be considered more of a trap, rather than an actual advantage. First off, it causes your nervous system to become over-solicited, thus causing a disproportionate amount of stress in regards to the tasks you’re working on. Humans aren’t necessarily build to do a lot of stuff at the same time, rather, we’re much better at focusing on a single thing and excelling at it. You know, quality, not quantity.
9. Are You Ready for This? Yeah, Meditation
Yeah, yeah. I know, meditation, spirituality, and all that jazz. It’s cheesy and trendy. However, meditation shouldn’t necessarily be associated with faux-spirituality. The truth is that it works. Period. There’s a whole lot of research suggesting that meditation has an immense impact on your productivity.
By meditating 15-20 minutes a day, you’ll be able to considerably improve your memory, focus, and overall emotional and physical wellbeing. More importantly, it’s a great way to let your brain cool. This is why there are many people that meditate before having lunch when they’re at work. They’ve successfully gone through half of the day, giving your brain a short break will only increase your mental output in the second half.
It doesn’t really matter what you’re working on when it comes to software development or any adjacent field — a bunch of high-impact tools is absolutely essential to increased productivity. A workday with fewer distractions and unnecessary hiccups will ensure a higher output and a more consistent professional growth.
Now, back to you. What are the tools you use? Let us know in the comments below!