12 Life Hacks Every Developer Should Know

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By Raquel Guarino

Every job has its challenges, and for developers, the obstacles are wide and variable. Staring at a computer all day trying to solve complex issues can result in burnout, confusion, and disenchantment. So what’s a struggling developer to do? We spoke to our Help.com engineers to discuss how they persevere in spite of challenges.

Losing Motivation

Discipline is productivity in the absence of motivation.

  • Eric Hofs, Frontend Engineer

Trouble-Shooting

All of the people you look up to and hope to be as good as some day Google [stuff] as much as you do, if not more. You just have to learn to be really good at it.

  • Pat Webster, Sr. Dev Ops Engineer

ProTip: Someone smarter than you has overcome the same problems before. There is a book, blog post, coworker, meetup, or conference that discusses in great detail the problem you have and solutions to it. I like to think I'm pretty smart, but most of what I say or feel was because I learned something smart from someone else.

  • Michael Streeter, Lead Frontend Engineer

Setting Boundaries

This is going to sound crass, but know when to say no to meetings when something can be handled in a 10 second email or Slack chat/call.

  • Pat Webster

Overcoming Obstacles

FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) generally arises when you concentrate only on the problem and not the solution. FUD can lead to hesitation or outright avoiding thinking about the problem, leaving it unsolved for a very long time.

How I've overcome FUD: Becoming solution oriented. How great will it feel to overcome this problem? Awareness is also key. Knowing that I'm FUDing and talking to others also helps a lot.

  • Michael Streeter

Text Editors

Learning one text editor of choice really well helps heaps, versus constantly trying to use new tooling.

  • Pat Webster

Finding Your Groove

White noise or a groovy tune makes me very productive. It brings the ambient level noise down, keeping me from focusing on anything else.

  • Jesus Ochoa, QA Engineer

Avoiding Distractions

I keep most of my programs in dark mode [for the same reason I use white noise]; otherwise, really brightly colored things pull my eyes toward them.

  • Jesus Ochoa

Getting Unblocked

If you get stuck, get out some markers or even just a pencil. Draw a picture of whatever the problem is so you can actually reason out the entire scope of something topically.

  • Pat Webster

Taking a Breather

Taking a break is my go-to when I'm struggling; [I like to] do something to get my brain going that isn't related to work, and then I can come back refreshed.

  • Jesus Ochoa

[I] change scenery or change the task. On my best days/weeks, I practice the Pomodoro Technique pretty aggressively. Part of that is taking time to organize problems and then focusing attention on them one by one. If a particular problem ain't workin', pick a different one. 

  • Chance Eakin, Lead Frontend Engineer

Any last thoughts?

How could I forget?! Invest in hammocks. A hammock helps me be more productive because I think less about being uncomfortable in a standard desk/chair environment.

  • Eric Hofs

 

Do you have any life hacks of your own? Share them in the comments!

 

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