What are everyone’s best productivity tips? Fairly early in my career as a SWE looking to learn :-)

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Your morning defines your day, so make it productive if you want a productive day.

Corroborated by neuroscientists talking about dopamine mumbo jumbo and by all the being effective literature I've seen.

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This is due to something called the “fresh start effect” where humans use temporal landmarks to motivate aspirational behavior. Which is why New Year’s resolutions are a thing, and people tend to go to the gym most on Mondays. We think of our lives in narratives and near a tidy “start” to tell ourselves, things will be different.

If you know this psychology, you can hack it - so even if you have an unproductive morning, you can tell yourself that the afternoon is a separate time period and get a fresh start on being productive. Eventually, you can whittle it down even further even to 1 hour blocks (which is why people recommend things like the Pomodoro technique)

https://faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Dai_Fresh_Start_2014_Mgmt_Sci.pdf

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Schedule time on your calendar to work on items. This allows you to timebox your efforts to more quickly meet milestones. It also allows you to set aside time to research or learn new things. Set up time to have virtual coffees with team members and others outside of your career. Social clout > technical prowess in the game of promotions.

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For me, I have to eliminate distractions. Specifically, I can't have my phone handy and I have to keep my email in a separate tab so I don't see the number in the inbox.

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Read the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. It has been the single best book for my career as a SWE. The book actually brings up all the other comments posted here :)

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Follow pomodoro technique

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Establish a personal triage and task management system. A way to know all the tasks you have on the go, what/who you're waiting on, deadlines, and prioritization. Be ruthless about this prioritization, so you maintain focus on your bigger goals, and are able to chip away at them even when things come up. And when things do come up, you can slot them in appropriately. You'll have a better idea of how urgently something needs to get done versus not, allocate your time better and be less reactive to the squeaky wheel.

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Love this system and advice. I’d add - implement a regular ritual of reviewing and cleaning your backlog. Basically, take the frameworks for getting things done in software development, and apply it to yourself.

I like using the app Todoist for this, but really these principles apply whatever the tool - you could use a spreadsheet or even pieces of paper.

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I use an app called Flora on my phone that plants trees (fake but you can pay to have actual trees planted) after I complete xyz minutes for my task (25 min usually)

If I touch my phone, it “kills” the tree and it’s enough to make me focus

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If you can, be the early riser that works quietly early and end your day early too. The last couple of hours of the day are the least productive. Psychologically, if you just admit that to your self and free yourself of the sitting at your desk in those last couple of hours of the day, you will greatly reduce your long term stress buildup.

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Or find what works for you! I’m most productive first thing in the morning - but I know others who more easily hit flow states after 4pm. Try to identify what helps you hit your flow and design your life around that, if you have the flexibility

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Use a tracking app like Evernote or OneNote to stay organized.

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Learn how to identify your most valuable pieces of work & focus on those. These should align to significant goals you have. A good system I use for daily prioritisation = ABCDE
A - must get done today
B - high importance but not necessary for today
C - low priority
D - delegate
E - eliminate

Then take all the As & rank the top 3 to tackle first. Once you’ve done those, reassess throughout the day (your priorities will likely change as the day progresses so I don’t commit to an order beyond 3 to preserve agility). I use a physical ‘To Do list’ notebook I got on Amazon to track/manage.

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