blogger development lifehacks

Keep it Simple, John Sonmez

I’m trying to build a better blogging habit, after following John Sonmez’s blogging email course. I started following him, and his Simple Programmer blog, after I saw a review of his Soft Skills book on Christos Matskas’ blog and thought it was something I needed to know more about.

I’ve been presenting and blogging for a while, since I realised that my technical skills were a necessary but not a sufficient condition for a fulfilling career, because the soft skills open the doors to the greater challenges of customer and team relationships, and greater responsibility. Communication and explanation are becoming more important right from the start of a developer’s career however, as more companies move towards adopting portions of the agile manifesto and encourage greater interaction between the technical and the business owners, as well as expecting a much higher degree of collaboration within teams,

For those of you just starting out, or those looking to jump things up a gear, the course lays out some great motivation and practical steps to get you set up, and start building up your soft skills by communicating.

Blogging may not be for everyone, but I don’t have much faith in a software engineer who can’t clearly communicate their ideas. So if you don’t currently blog, vlog, present or attend Guided Conversations, today is a great day to start.

If you’ve just started, please feel free to include a link to your blog, YouTube channel, or other communication forum below. Part of the soft skills are about collaboration and sharing.

development lifehacks quickfix


I’ve been thinking about productivity a lot recently, s you may have seen if you’ve been following me on Twitter.

It strikes me though that the most important thing that generalises a lot of the tips is this: Avoid multitasking.

Humans are notoriously bad at multitasking (and not just men, for those women sniggering smugly at the back), so a lot of the tips are about focussing on one thing and ignoring everything else. Things like working through a to do list, setting aside a specific time to deal with emails and setting one main goal, are all about the same thing.

One of the reasons multi-tasking is unproductive is there is a time cost associated with switching tasks. Think about your email. To check it, you open up (or switch to) your email window, you may need to log in, you then have to orient yourself to the last e-mail (which is easier if you have an empty inbox when you end your email tasks), and then get into the mind set of what you do with each email, remember what folders/tags you’re using, and so on. The more you do a task, the shorter the switching time can get, but it is always there, and if you’re multitasking, you’re actually wasting a lot of time during the switching.

Of course, sometimes switching is inevitable, networks go down, sometimes you have to wait for other people, so you need other tasks in the pipeline so you have something to do when you can’t work on your main task, but the longer you can concentrate on one task, the more you’ll get done on that task. And if you set yourself a deadline to complete it, that’ll help your concentration too because it will stop you thinking “Oh, I’ve got a week to finish this, I can check my email now” and start you thinking “I’ve got to get this done by 3 or my plan’s down the drain, so I’ll get this done now and then check my email”.

Well, it’s certainly helped me 🙂