13 Tips to Be Productive Working From Home as a Junior Developer

May 26, 2020 ยท 3 min read

turned-on silver iMac, on wooden desk in home office Photo by Michael Soledad on Unsplash

Right now most of us work from home. Some people say the current crisis is not comparable to normal work-from-home. And they're right.

But that doesn't change the fact that we are at home. And the tricks to stay productive are the same. I'll go over what keeps me productive as a software engineer, as well as my observations from junior developers I know.

Let's dive in.

  • Start the day doing something you enjoy. This can be meditation, a slow breakfast, reading a few pages, or exercising. Jumping right into work works for some. But I found out that my mornings significantly improve when I start with something I thoroughly enjoy.
  • Have a ritual to start work each day. I start my day with shower and meditation. Then I write an article for my blog, grab a cup of tea or coffee and start my usual day-job.
  • Keep your desk and work area tidy. A clean and clutter-free desk helps me concentrate. Yes, there are post-it notes and some paper near my desk. But I clean it up regularly. I thoroughly enjoy it when my desk is tidy.
  • Plan your work and break it up into small pieces. This will boost your productivity. At the beginning of the day, assess what you need to do and plan your work day. Don't just list the big to-dos. Break them up into smaller pieces. Think of the first step you need to do and write that as a separate to-do. Repeat for each next step. This way you won't need to think about what to do and have more mental energy for your task at hand.
  • Have a comfortable chair and a pleasant working area. A good chair is worth the investment. Also: buy some plants and put a picture up on the wall! Make your working area your own. It doesn't even need to be a separate room (although it is great if that's possible!).
  • Have a system to write down to-dos and random thoughts. To-dos clutter up your head. When you need to do something, your brain constantly reminds you of this. But if you write it down, your brain knows that to-do is stored somewhere. Same for random thoughts and ideas. A system to write them down can be as simple as pen and paper on your desk, a note-taking app, or a to-do manager app.
  • Do breaks throughout the day Breaks make you even more productive. Get up at least once every hour for a few minutes and do something physical. Stretch, get a glass of water, open the window, ... . Breaks refresh our mind and our body, and they can lead to fresh ideas to tackle our current task.
  • Don't work more than you would in the office. It is easy to work longer hours when working from home. Don't fall into this trap! Yes, you're saving the time for your commute. But that is YOUR TIME, not your company's time. After you put in your hours for the day, turn off your computer. And don't log into your work accounts until the next morning when you start again.
  • Manage your energy throughout the day. Over the day, there are times when you can do certain things better than others. Planning your to-dos, doing deep work, or small tasks. These all require different kinds of focus. Understand when you can do which kind of work best and use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • Schedule time to learn from your colleagues. When you are stuck, ask your colleagues for help via videoconference. When your colleagues do something interesting, ask if they can show you how they do it. You'll learn faster when you connect to your colleagues. Yes, try to fix things on your own. But learn from the mistakes that your colleagues already made.
  • You don't need to respond immediately. Fuck Slack. It kills productivity. Slack has a do-not-disturb mode. Set your status to "๐Ÿ’ญ Deep Work" and mute your notifications for 2 hours.
  • Set up boundaries for people in your household. If you don't live alone, make sure the other people know when it is okay to interrupt you and when it is not. You don't need to isolate yourself. Enjoy that you are working from home, and talk to other members of your household. But protect your deep work hours.
  • Finally: enjoy the flexible schedule Take time to cook. Take 2 hour lunch breaks. Go for a walk or a bike ride in the afternoon. You've got the freedom of working from home. Use it!