The year 2016 is on its end, but the number of projects we take part of grows larger and larger. Thus, I’ve decided to write on theoretically lightweight and universal topic but at the same time very important, especially for developers who basically work with their brains.
In this post, I focused on situations that can easily drain your mental power as well as come with some prevention approaches. Some may find it silly or minor, but I chosen situation that I personally find to be the most counterproductive as well as possible prevention methods.
Practically all of us take part in more than one project simultaneously. Moreover, all of us usually take part in multiple project’s elements, so there is no way to hide as ‘back-end developer’ or ‘front-end developer’. Sound fun, right? I mean, you won’t get bored.
However, such working conditions requires switching between contexts many times per day. And it can get very exhausting. According to numerous research on multitasking switching between contexts can cost you even 40% of your productivity. And that is A LOT!
What can be done? Planning and sticking to the itinerary as much as it is possible. It may be impossible to dedicated one whole day to one project/task, but you can at least dedicate chunks of your day to each respective task. This way, you can focus on one thing at a time.
External sensory input
Too much of a sensory input for too long and you’ll go nuts or at least you’ll be extremely exhausted. I promise you that. From this perspective, an open-space office is a nightmare, especially if you have very sociable co-workers that have a tendency to talk & joke a lot.
The most basic way of dealing with it is to go into headphones-on-coding-machine. Of course, after you burned 2 hours to discuss what headphones you should buy. From my experience, the best music to listen during work is not your favorite. Try movie or video game soundtrack - it’s composed in such a way to not draw unwanted attention so it may be perfect for work.
You can also carefully reprimand co-workers who talk too much. Or go over the top and be very rude to everyone. No one will talk to you and you can even be encouraged to work remotely! Still, I don’t think it’s such a bargain...
Finding the most productive time of a day
Here’s a tricky thing. For example, I find myself most productive between 6 a.m. to around 11 a.m. and in the late evening hours. Some of my colleagues come to work around noon and get into the working rhythm around 2 p.m.
Although working at hours that doesn’t suit you is possible (most of us work like that anyway), you’ll find yourself less exhausted working in the most productive time of a day. I guarantee that.
Don’t know what time of day is your sweet spot? Just try for yourself. If your company generally doesn’t permit picking your own working hours you may try to convince your boss, you’ll be much more productive (thus profitable). Otherwise, tough luck.
Can’t focus in the office despite working at the perfect time of a day in good conditions? Try a nearby cafe. Maybe work remotely from your home office. As I find it, the trick is not to bind yourself to one place but to change environment from time to time. This can help you fight legwork kind of situation, where days start to melt into single borderless timespan which can lead you to boredom and irritation, thus you become mentally exhausted.
If you have your own ways of preventing mental fatigue or situations that crash your productivity really hard, feel free to leave a comment!