Declutter Your Workflow

Here’s an exercise. Right now, how many windows are open on your computer? Now, how many additional tabs (beyond the first) are open on those windows? Personally, I have 8 windows with an additional 10 tabs open: 18 screens of information. And I think that’s actually well below average. Most developers I know keep dozens (and dozens) of tabs open in each browser window, and rarely close their applications.

Stop it! You cannot handle all of this at once. We speak of decluttering our homes or our (physical) desks, how about we try to declutter our workflow? I understand the need to keep communication channels open so leave your email and IM client open in the background if you must. Your web browser is probably important for quick access to reference information. Beyond that, all you should need open are your tools (IDE, text editor, whatever).

With each window vying for attention, it’s harder to focus on the task at hand. So when you are finished modifying a document, close it. When the reference document you were reading has served it’s purpose, close it. Write the email, and then send it or save it as a draft for later. Don’t distract your brain from what is most important.

And most importantly, don’t try to multitask. Our brains simply are not good at it. Read your blogs or the news later. If you think of something you have to do, take a quick note or add it to your to-do list.  You can catch up on these minor tasks after you finish fixing the bug, writing the document, or whatever you do for a living.