7 Ways to Boost Your Development Productivity

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It's often said that time is money. Because it's important to save money, it should also be important to save time. Whether you do web design, web development, software development, it can always be helpful to save a bit of time in what you're doing.

Here are some tips to remember to help speed up your development.

Use a Framework

Frameworks, such as CodeIgniter, Ruby on Rails, CakePHP and Zend, all contain many tools to speed up development. These tools are generally tried and tested methods of completing tasks, using ways that have been proven to work well.

For PHP development, I prefer CodeIgniter. Be sure to try them all out and see which ones you like.

Sometimes though, it isn't always the best idea to use a framework. You should be able to decide whether or not you really need to use a framework, or if you should just leave it out.

Use the Terminal

If you can type, you can probably learn to use the terminal. It can be a bit daunting at first, but once you learn how to use it, you will be working much more productively.

For example, it would probably be easier to use a keyboard shortcut to pop open a terminal and type in rm file.txt (or the equivalent for your OS) than to click on a menu, open up your file manager, find your file's icon among many other similar icons, right click it, and click delete.

Here are some links for some basic information to get started.

Another advantage of using the terminal is that you can use lightweight terminal applications, which will generally be faster than using graphical applications to do the same task.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can be very helpful in improving productivity. No matter what program you're using, it will probably be worth it to take some time to get to know the keyboard shortcuts. It is much faster to quickly press a simple sequence of keys than hunting through menus to find the right option.

If you really love keyboard shortcuts, you can try using a text editor like Vim or Emacs, which are both mainly controlled by keyboard shortcuts (well, not exactly keyboard shortcuts, but you do use the keyboard for everything).

Write Readable Code

When writing code, it is very important to make sure to keep it nice and readable. I have written previously on writing readable code, and I should emphasize that it is an important in improving development productivity. Anyone else working on the same project will thank you. Five months later, you might even be thanking yourself.

Remember to insert whitespace into code, organize your files, limit line length, and generally try to make your code look as nice as possible. If you are contributing to a project with an existing style guide, be sure to stick to it.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel

We've all heard this before. If a certain library already exists to solve a problem, why create it all over again? By using things that others have written to solve some problems, you can have more time to tackle your unsolved problems.

Of course, if you want to learn more about whatever you're reinventing, go ahead!

Keep Little Snippets

If you've put together some ways of doing common tasks, why not save some snippets to be used in another project? Some IDEs even have snippets managers to organize them, with an easy way to insert them into your code.

This can also be done with some things such as SQL snippets, for example to create the database tables you need.

Make Backups

I bet you don't make backups as often as you probably should. Don't lie, everyone forgets to backup important files once in a while. Unfortunately, you always forget to backup right before your hard drive explodes.

Okay, maybe forgetting to make backups won't make your hard drive explode, but it's a better idea to be prepared, just in case. If you really want to be prepared, you can make backups to an external hard drive, lock it up in a safe, and bury it 100 metres underground. The downside is that when you make a newer backup, you'll either have to either dig up the old hard drive, or buy a new one.

To Conclude

It is obviously very important to have good productivity and to be able to save time. By saving time when you're working, you'll have more time later to get started on your next project, or to just have some fun.

Do you have any other productivity tips that you'd like to share? Be sure to leave a comment on this post.

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  1. December 28, 2009

    A bunch of great tips. I find that taking a rest from stuff for a wee while also helps productivity in the long run, if you're stressed anyhow.

    • December 28, 2009

      That is a good point. I have also found that taking a break once in a while can be helpful.