Effective Time Management Strategies for Programmers Working Remotely

For programmers working remotely, time management can be one of the hardest problems to solve.

Getting stuck on coding issues and procrastinating seems inevitable at times, but there are ways to manage your time more effectively and still avoid burnout. If you’re ready to take your productivity levels to new heights, then read on to discover some of the best tips and tricks for wrestling back control of your time.

The Basics of Time Management

We all waste time, whether it’s in our personal lives or our jobs.

Not just minutes, but hours.

All you need to do is check your internet usage figures on your phone to get a rough idea of how much time you spend scrolling social media or Googling pictures of cats.

This isn’t a new problem, but there’s no doubt that the internet and especially social media are always fighting for our attention. Throw mobile phones into the mix with endless notifications and email inboxes that are always full, and you have a recipe for non stop distractions and procrastination.

However, you don’t have to sit back and watch time slip through your fingers helplessly.

When you make an effort to take control of how you spend your time, you can essentially win back minutes and hours that you otherwise wouldn’t have. We’re not saying that you’ll be able to go from working 9-5 to a Tim Ferriss 4 hour work week, but you can certainly raise your productivity levels with some mindfulness of how you spend your work hours.

Why is Time Management Important?

If you spend some time thinking about how you should spend your time, you’ll notice your output soar and your boss will thank you for it.

Programmers in particular can benefit from time management because the work is often challenging, which can lead to burnout or dips in productivity.

As Mihaly Robert Csikszentmihalyi argues in his book of the same name, flow is only available to us when we engage in tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult. When the task in front of us is too challenging, we get frustrated, and when it’s too easy we switch off.

Using this framework it makes sense that a programmer would struggle with time management, as they are often confronted with mind-numbing repetition that’s understimulating, or complex problems to solve which can encourage procrastination.

So, how do you effectively manage your time as a programmer to reduce the likelihood of succumbing to procrastination?

Work Tracking Software

Work tracking software, also commonly known as time tracking tools, are one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your output. With these tools, you can identify when you typically experience productivity slumps throughout the day and organize your time in a way that makes sense for you and your team.

Remote employee monitoring can help you track how your programming colleagues spend their work time, which is useful data for evaluation purposes. The automatic screenshots it takes on a regular basis can also help deter procrastination and encourage workers to stay on track with their work.

Sometimes just having the accountability of knowing your boss is (virtually) looking over your shoulder can be all you need to step up your efforts.

Time Blocking

Time blocking is another top time management strategy to try if you’re struggling to stay focussed or you want to give your programming team a way of better managing their time.

How does it work?

It’s as simple as it sounds: you block or chunk out times during the work day, and assign tasks to each of them.

For example, you could have one yellow block in your agenda or your digital calendar that’s yellow from 9am-10am, which represents time that you should spend outlining your projects for the day or meeting with your coworkers. Then you could have a time block from 2pm-4pm in red which represents time that you should spend in ‘deep work’ where you work without distraction to make solid progress on a particular project.

This method is effective because it gives you a clear idea of what you should be doing at all times so there should never be any doubt. It also helps you focus on just one task at a time, rather than trying to bite off more than you can chew.

The Pomodoro Method   

The pomodoro method is an excellent time management strategy that’s useful for everything from revising for an exam to coding problems you encounter at work.

It’s simple, yet works for many people.

If you’re not already familiar with the pomodoro method, here’s how it works:

  • Take a timer (manual or digital) and set it for 25 minutes 
  • Once the time has elapsed, take a 5-minute break 
  • After the break, set the timer for another 25 minutes and get back to work

While simplistic, the pomodoro method is effective as it forces you to take regular breaks. While this may seem counterproductive at first, you’d be surprised at how easily you lose attention on tasks after the 30 minute mark.

With the pomodoro method, you should be able to give your all for short bursts of time, which makes it the HIIT of time management techniques.

Final Thoughts

If you want to streamline your workflow and maximize remote teams productivity levels, you need to try something different.

As we all know, the definition of insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

If you’ve always struggled to make the most of your time as a programmer, or you run a team and want to ensure you get the most out of them, then you should give some or all of these top time management strategies a try.

While they might not all work for you, there’s a good chance that one of them will.

When the potential reward is a boost in productivity and less time squandered, wouldn’t you agree that the juice is worth the squeeze?

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