In Navigating Change in Crisis, we explore how individuals and companies are adapting to a “new normal” in order to keep essential services functioning. We provide actionable advice around how organizations, and ultimately the builders of data and analytic apps, are adapting to meet these changes. These insights aim to help you and your team navigate these unprecedented times.
Time management is one of the biggest challenges for professionals as the world around us continues to change rapidly. Developers, especially, are often under pressure to deliver products against an increasing number of complex deliverables. As more and more professionals are faced with remote working challenges, it’s more important than ever to better budget your time and manage tasks efficiently.
While developers are often provided with program or project management support, it’s often up to each developer to effectively manage their deadlines against tight requests — from managers who want more innovative products and customers with unique needs to solve challenging use cases. It’s crucial to continue to work at full efficiency to meet productivity goals and KPIs, no matter what the world throws at us.
Overcoming workplace time-sucks
According to a 2017 survey that polled 1,000 professional software developers from the United States and Great Britain, 41% of respondents cited “waiting for other people to do stuff” and “meetings where I mostly remain silent” (40%), as their biggest time-wasters. This means that there are lots of ways for developers to better use their time, for not just work demands, but also to create time for learning and online education opportunities that will improve their skills.
Automate to accelerate
Many work forces employ project-management tools to track the development process and understand their productivity. Asana, JIRA, and other tools can be helpful, but they mainly focus on technical work aimed at delivering product features, not the full set of tasks that developers are asked to complete.
Therefore, it’s helpful for developers to use available tools that will help manage productivity, from time-tracking apps to tool kits and templates that shorten training time on new technologies. Here are a few popular options:
- wakatime.com The “developer dashboard” summarizes key metrics through a personal dashboard, with each project, language, and branch detected automatically. Users can drill down into details about every feature of a project.
- toggl.com: This easy-to-use, popular time tracker syncs between computer and phone in real-time, and offers dashboard visualizations to check out the whole team’s work at a glance or add billable rates to your tasks to see which projects are profitable.
- hourstimetracking.com: This simplified tool offers different timers so you can switch between projects during the day, and provides an attractive visual report. It’s easily adaptable for freelancers and can even generate custom invoices.
Other effective time-management tools automate tasks to help you better schedule your work and prioritize tasks as you lay out your day: For example, pushing more creative work until the evening, when the quiet and solitude sync with an uptick in mental alertness to increase productivity.
Others find the Pomodoro method to be effective, where 25-minute periods are carved out, with 5-minute breaks in between, and a longer break after 4 full Pomodoros. This method works for those who are overwhelmed by a long workday, and find it easier to face bite-sized chunks of time.
Sisense engineer Jon Hong says he prevents distractions by changing his Google calendar alert from 10 minutes before the event to 1-2 minutes in advance. “If I’m in deep thought and I’m interrupted 10 minutes before, it can take 5 minutes to get re-focused, and the remaining 5 minutes is spent constantly checking the time to determine when I should start heading to the meeting. With 5 separate meetings in a day, the loss of productivity adds up.”
Better productivity through dashboards
Firmwide, using dashboards can help manage employee productivity. However, in order to create dashboard that will effectively do this, the dashboard builder must choose sensible KPIs. Sisense offers ready-made templates for 10 industries, including customer service, finance, and healthcare to do just this.
So how does all this time-draining affect outputs? When volatile revenues and an uncertain future, businesses want to see visual results of what works. And if the dashboards don’t look good, then busy executives won’t pay attention to the insights you’ve mined from the data.
“Have the main KPIs at the top and then start going into the details. This is a good standard operating procedure for dashboard creation in any case, but in this case, you can stop there,” says Assaf Fraindlich, Enterprise BI Consultant at Sisense Israel, “On top of that, user experience is important. That’s why you can use the following OOTB (out of the box): drill to anywhere, automatic breakdown of dates, and auto aligning of widgets.”
Increase productivity and build your dreams
If you wonder if you’re getting the most out of your working hours, you’re not alone. These tools can be useful for seeing where the hidden time-sucks lurk during your working day, boosting productivity. They can also be useful for reporting monthly, quarterly, and annual project tallies to your manager and top executives. Whatever you’re building in your role, the right data and analytics can help make your processes seem more real, improve efficiency, and prove value.
Content Studio member Rachel Burstyn has worked in program marketing for NPR, been a food columnist for World Jewish Digest in Chicago, and a news reporter for WVXU-FM Cincinnati. She lives (and cooks, runs, and reads fantasy novels) in Israel with her husband and four children.