Software developers have a lot on their plate. With ever-increasing IT requests, you need every edge to get ahead of tickets and find time to build out new solutions. But in reality, it’s quite difficult to stay focused on the job when we have other more important things in our minds (like family problems, financial troubles, etc.)

There are many ways to minimize distractions and improve software development productivity. So, let's discuss some simple tips for improving productivity in custom software development.

Top 10 Productivity Tips for Custom Software Development

1. Minimize Distractions

It’s hard enough to focus on a single task for over an hour. It's even harder to focus if you add distractions like the internet or phone calls. To succeed, you need to clear away items on your desk that may distract you.

Also, don’t forget to close all your social media tabs (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) before working. If you struggle to avoid temptation, try apps that block websites to help you focus.

2. Get Rid of Desk Clutter

It helps to clear your desktop of everything but your monitor and the keyboard. Keep only what you need on the desk (but not too close to the keyboard). Get comfortable with your mouse, for example, so that you don't have to look at it or think about it when you use it.

Keep your workspace neat and organized. If there are papers on your desk, make sure they're organized into folders or piles — not scattered all over. If you work at home, make sure that you keep your work area cleaned as well. Clutter can impact your anxiety levels, making it harder for you to focus.

3. Set Realistic Goals

No one wants to over-promise and under-deliver. That won't make your team happy or productive. And it won't help your customer/client relationships. Instead, take an honest look at what you have on your plate and how long it will take to complete it. If something isn't urgent, don't make it urgent by trying to do everything all at once.

If your goals aren't reasonable, you'll struggle to reach them. The pressure to deliver more on time will only add fuel to the fire, making it harder for you to focus on finishing your tasks.

4. Start with Small Tasks

If you want to be more productive in software development, you could start your day by fixing bugs or doing small tasks that take less than 30 minutes to be completed.

As a result, you’ll feel more motivated because you will feel that you achieved a few quick wins (possibly without too much effort). Small wins make us feel good and productive. Plus, you'll be ready to take on more tasks.

5. Take Breaks

It is important to take breaks from your work. The Pomodoro technique is a popular method for partitioning out when you should take breaks. The basic idea is to take a short break after every 25 minutes of work and take a longer break after four Pomodoros (25-minute sessions). This technique helps you ensure you aren’t spending too much time on something that may not be productive.

6. Be Less Random

Being interrupted can drastically reduce your productivity. A recent study revealed that it takes 23 minutes or more to refocus after an interruption. No matter how long the interruption lasts.

Interruptions are bound to happen.

That's the nature of work. But, you should avoid being sucked into random interruptions such as responding to emails, jumping on unplanned meetings or calls, and rearranging your schedule to knock out ad hoc tasks.

One way to do this is to turn off notifications — particularly those associated with email — that cause interruption. Another way is to set time aside for email and unplanned tasks. That way, you can focus on the strategic tasks without interruption.

Similarly, you may want to schedule certain times when they will check social media and other communication channels so you can focus on coding without interruption during other times.

7. Don’t Multitask

The biggest mistake any developer can make is not focusing on what they're doing. Multitasking, or trying to focus on more than one thing at once, is a proven productivity killer. The brain isn’t wired to pay attention to two things well simultaneously. Instead, you end up struggling through multiple tasks at once.

Multitaskers are worse at filtering out irrelevant information than single-taskers. Even more concerning is that multitaskers are worse at multitasking than single-taskers...

Researcher David Strayer of the University of Utah says it best:

“People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand … People who are constantly juggling e-mails, phone calls, and other incoming information are not only shallow thinkers but also more apt to make mistakes and have trouble switching from one job to another compared with those who prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time.”

8. Master Your IDE

The most important skill to master as a professional software developer is your integrated development environment (IDE). If you're not using an IDE, you're not saving any time.

You need to quickly navigate the code base, refactor names, extract objects and methods, etc.

If it takes you longer than a few seconds to do any of these things, then you're wasting precious time and energy when you could be focusing on the problem at hand.

You can also rely on low-code/no-code platforms to help you build applications faster. These SaaS platforms allow you to rapidly build custom applications using prefabricated code and a visual interface. The end result is that you can build custom solutions in days, not months.

9. Practice TDD

Test-Driven Development (DDD) is a powerful technique that allows you to write code faster than normal and with higher quality. When practicing TDD, you write both a test and production code simultaneously. To make this approach work, you need to commit yourself 100% to TDD and be willing to change your coding style first (at least until TDD becomes your default).

Alternatively, with low-code/no-code platforms, you can drastically reduce the number of steps involved in the coding process. That means you can speed through development and testing. As a result, your apps will go live faster with less effort and time needed on your part. You'll knock out development tasks, feeling more productive.

10. Automate Everything

Automation is one of the most powerful tools to improve productivity. In many cases, the time you spend automating some of your tasks will pay off several times. Success is knowing which tasks eat up most of your time and streamlining those processes.

The best use cases for automation are repetitive tasks that need to be done in the same way each time or performed in a strict sequence. Over the years, automation has become increasingly advanced. Nowadays, you can automate everything from processing unstructured data to data entry.

Take the time at work to take a step back and see what can be automated. Next, track menial tasks that eat up your time when you're working. Finally, work with your team or technology consultants to build automated solutions that will save you hours while helping you be more productive at work.

The more you can automate, the more time it will save you.

Your Next Steps

As software becomes much more complex and requires a higher level of creativity, you can't let distractions hold you back from your projects. You'd be surprised how eliminating some of the things in your life could make you more productive.

Software developers must intimately understand their industry and stay focused to remain productive. It's up to each individual to stay aware of potential pitfalls that can detract from productivity and make the necessary arrangements to mitigate them.

The key to maximizing efficiency isn’t to tap out every minute of the day but rather to define and adhere to established priorities. Once you set those priorities, you can find ways to maximize your time and energy in the remaining moments. Plus, you'll find that you have more time. And that will help you find more ways to be productive.

You should also track certain software development metrics to ensure that your steps reduce your inefficiencies. This will help you see the ROI on your process improvements.

In the end, the best approach will likely be a combination of these tips. Don’t be afraid to try out multiple approaches if you can. There’s no guarantee that one specific method won’t work for you—a little experimentation never hurts anyone!

See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.