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Developer Productivity: Tools That Help You Stay on Track

Developer Productivity: Tools That Help You Stay on Track

Developers are professional jugglers: they’re balancing multiple projects, their personal lives, time in and out of the office, and — usually — several different productivity tools.

The problem is all this juggling is challenging and costly for productivity. To avoid this, as a rule, you want to use as few tools as possible. Of course, that can be challenging in a world with an abundance of tools.

The key is to choose a small set of tools that deliver the maximum value to your team. If you want to be more productive, it's best to look for tools that are built to eliminate distractions and let you stay focused on your work in one place.

Here are some things to look for when choosing your productivity tools, as well as some of our favorites.

Tools that eliminate distractions

Don’t worry, we’re not pitching you a paradox. Obviously, any extra tool is arguably a distraction in and of itself. But if you can find a tool that can eliminate other, more intrusive, or more frequent distractions, it might be worth it. Especially if that tool runs in the background while you work. Here are a few we recommend to avoid common distractions:

Toby—Easy tab management

Toby's easy tab management system

If you’ve ever gone down a rabbit hole 42 tabs deep frantically Googling answers, you’ve also probably had a moment where you accidentally closed them all. Or you were smart, bookmarked pages for later, then forgot what they were called and lost them in your overloaded bookmarks tab. An app like Toby can help with that by letting you manage multiple tabs simultaneously, grouping them into easily retrievable collections that can be shared across desktops.

Key features include:

  • Saving and opening browser sessions with a click
  • Easily finding any website in any collection
  • Speed-dialing into apps and websites
  • Access on any page with a right-click

BlockSite—An end to mindless scrolling

While we all love to blame everyone else for the seemingly endless parade of distractions during the workday, we all know the terrible truth: most of the time, we’re our own worst enemies. Who hasn’t killed what could’ve been a productive hour mindlessly scrolling social media? Look no further than BlockSite: it does what it sounds like.

Key features include:

  • Scheduling when to block certain sites
  • Password protection to help protect you from yourself
  • Site redirection
  • Sync blocked sites and schedules across devices

SaneBox—Make your email work for you

If you’re distracted by an overflowing inbox full of half-relevant nonsense or emails you don’t want to deal with right now, SaneBox might be able to help you out.

Key features include:

  • Automatic sorting of distracting emails, newsletters, and CCs
  • Scheduling breaks from notifications
  • Scheduling arrivals to your main inbox
  • Create custom folders with examples, and SaneBox will sort them for you automatically

Tools that improve your focus

Brain.fm, Binaural Beats, and Promofocus

Once you’ve eliminated distractions, the next step is to maximize use of your focus time. Development is creative work, so it’s not enough to simply carve out time and space for it. The difference between a productive afternoon and one spent staring at a wall often comes down to how well you can get into the right frame of mind.

There’s no way to guarantee you get a Eureka moment. But if you can get yourself in the right headspace, it’s more likely.

Music can be a great way to find your groove:

Brain.fm—Creativity-boosting beats, backed by science

Most like listening to music, and it can certainly help get you through a boring workday. But most music is designed to get your attention and distract you. Where brain.fm differs is that it has been purpose-built to do just the opposite: blend into the background and help you focus.

Key features include:

  • Background-blending that minimizes distraction
  • Neural phase locking that helps neurons coordinate activity
  • Gentle, rhythmic pulses in the music that help support sustained attention

Binaural Beats—Hack your brain for focus and creativity

The Binaural Beats app takes advantage of how your ears hear sound to help improve your focus and creativity. Different patterns of Hertz (Hz) have clinical support for improving everything from sleep to mood to creativity. By tailoring the Hz range to your needs, you can help yourself focus, be more creative, or relax if needed.

Key features include:

  • A simple interface
  • Fluid, easy-to-use controls
  • Setting your own base tone
  • Pauses when you disconnect headphones

Pomofocus—Improve your structure

The way you structure your work also affects your focus. You might want to try Pomofocus, which helps you use the Pomodoro technique. The technique breaks up work into timed intervals separated by short breaks, designed to maximize productive time and minimize downtime while avoiding burnout.

Key features include:

  • Being both desktop- and mobile-compatible
  • Responsive design and color-shifting to signal work vs. rest time
  • Audio notifications
  • Customizable timer intervals

Tools that streamline your work

Slack and Tabine

Alright, you’re settled in now. You’ve eliminated potential distractions, and you’ve got your creativity-boosting beats blasting. In your perfect ivory tower, all the frequencies are aligned.

Slack—Asynchronous collaboration

Except, of course, for the fact that the rest of the world is not so perfect as your digital fortress. Other people work on different schedules, in different time zones, at different rates, etc.

Slack is pretty useful in that regard. By enabling asynchronous communication, Slack makes it easier to collaborate with colleagues working on different clocks. And the ability to label messages as non-urgent makes it easier to get or give updates without anyone’s workflow being disrupted.

Key features include:

  • Organizing work into channels for minimal context-switching
  • Controlling notifications
  • Collaborating live or at different times
  • Centralizing (and therefore simplifying) communications

Tabnine—Make the computer do the coding

If you’re getting bogged down in code work, Tabnine can help by using AI to complete your code. It uses context and syntax to predict and suggest your following lines of code. Basically, it’s autocomplete for developers.

The advantages are obvious: work faster and more easily. You’re essentially doing the same amount of coding but with fewer keystrokes and less mental effort.

Key features include:

  • Functions both locally and in the cloud
  • Analysis of coding patterns to make suggestions in line with your style
  • Covering coding languages from JavaScript and Python to Rust, Go, and Bash

Zenhub—The trifecta

The Zenhub board

We'd be remiss not to mention Zenhub. It's the best way to help your software team focus and get more done. After all, Zenhub is built directly into GitHub to reduce context-switching and has tons of baked-in features that are dedicated to helping your team be more productive. Here's what that looks like for your team:

  • Get valuable insights and visibility into your team’s productivity with real-time burndown charts, velocity tracking, release reports, and more.
  • Connect your codebase to strategy with multi-repository boards powered by GitHub-derived data for a unified view of private and public repos, as well as real-time roadmaps.
  • Spend less time in meetings and more time focusing on the code with automated agile processes, including automated sprint planning and workflows.

Learn more

If you’re curious about how to leverage Zenhub’s productivity powers, check out the blog we wrote about it, or better yet, try Zenhub for free. And if you’re finding distractions in GitHub itself, you might want to read our blog on how to avoid the most common ones.

Start improving your team's productivity by up to 75% today with Zenhub. Try for free.

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