Tips to Be a More Productive Software Engineer

Wilson Tan
4 min readMay 19, 2022


We all have only 24 hours in a day and most of us spend approximately 8 hours at work. There are times where we have to burn the midnight oil and spend extra hours to get things done; sadly to say that when this continues to happen for a long period of time, we will get more and more depressed and eventually experience burnout.

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

Therefore, it’s very crucial to know how to utilize our time efficiently and be productive at our workplace. The following are some tips and tricks that have been working well for me.

1. Don’t code right away

Yes, you read that right! As a software engineer, we may get very excited to build the next big feature that we think that it will bring the product to a greater height and jump right into coding. Sometimes, it may end up being a wrong feature which no one uses.

To avoid all that, it’s important to have a clear context of the requirements or use case and think about the design implementation. If we are new to the code, it’s advisable to have a read through first to reduce the negative implication of the new code changes.

2. Keep the scope small

Every new feature or enhancement should be treated as though they are MVP (minimum viable product). There may be some product managers who want this and want that. It is our responsibility to reflect on the requirements and try to negotiate on a smaller scope.

By doing that, we can be agile enough to know how users react to the new features and thus making further changes on that. Without doing that, it can take up a long time to roll out a big feature and potentially there can be many bugs arising. Worse still, it may end up in a dumpster and all the efforts will go to waste when no one uses it.

3. Minimize distraction

We should be working in a comfortable environment. Get rid of steel chair and invest in a good ergonomic chair. Close the door if the surrounding is noisy.

We may be receiving a lot of emails or messages over WhatsApp, Telegram, Teams etc. It’s OK not to respond to them immediately. Have a read on them and rate the importance in your mind. If it’s not very important, make a note to reply at a later time and focus on your work first. For this, you can use Trello or Todoist.

4. KISS in daily standup

We should keep it short and simple in our daily standup by just stating what we have done previous day and what we plan to do for the day.

Have a mention of any obstacles or blockers in brief. If it is going to be a long one, it’s better to have a different session with the relevant person.

All in all, 10–15 mins is the sweet spot for a team size of 5.

5. Reduce working hour

Set a deadline in our mind on the target time to finish the task. This is so that we do not procrastinate. It’s best to aim to finish the task within our working hours of 9 to 5.

It’s actually unhealthy to always think that we have the night time to make the final sprint to get things done.

6. Take short break

Have a short coffee chat with colleagues at the pantry. Or look out from the window at the faraway greeneries to give your eyes some rest.

It’s good to give our brain a rest by taking a short break once in a while when we feel like stuck at work. After all, our brain needs to be in a refreshed state for us to be productive at work.

7. Ask the right person

At times, we may get stuck at work; it can be due to the technical complexity or unclear functional requirement. Don’t stop right there and ask the right person for help or clarification. If it’s a technical complexity problem, Google can be the right person too!

8. Apply automation

Thank god that we are now living in quite an advanced world. When we have to do something repeatedly, more often than not we can find some tools out there we can automate the tasks.

For example, there are CI/CD tools which we can automate the deployment of our applications to the cloud. Refer below:

9. Read books or articles

We have to be constantly improving on our technical know-how by reading more books or articles. Just for sharing, a good example of book: System Design Interview — An Insider’s Guide: Volume 2.

The technical problems that we encounter are most likely faced by some other people in other parts of the world. Therefore, it’s beneficial for us to read more to know how others tackle a problem. As such, we will be able to be productive in producing good quality solution.

Feel free to leave down your comments if you have other tips or tricks to share on being more productive!