Simple productivity tips for developers

Some quick and easy productivity tips to speed up your workflows

By: Ajdin Imsirovic 24 September 2021

In this post I’ll discuss ways to increase our productivity as web developers.

1. How to enable ALT shortcuts on google sheets

Up until recently, my ALT-triggered shortcut keys in Google Sheets worked fine. Then, all of a sudden, they stopped working. Not sure why.

Before, if I wanted to wrap text in a cell, I just typed ALT, o, w, w.

But it was no longer working.

So here’s the updated shortcut that I don’t like as much, but it does the work:

ALT + SHIFT + o, w, w.

It seems that the ALT + SHIFT + “some letter” keyboard combo opens the main menu navigation items, then we can use the single letter to target respective commands.

2. Keep your coding snippets in a Google spreadsheet

This is a great productivity hack for web developers, especially front-end web developers.

We all know that there’s a huge number of tips, tricks, and techniques related to front-end web dev.

It’s really, really hard to keep up with all of them.

Googling helps, but after a while, you’ll probably forget what you googled and, a few months down the road, you might google again for the exact same thing. You know how it’s done, “sort of”, but you can’t remember the exact steps, and time is of the essence.

A solution to this is that you invest a bit more time right now, to be faster down the road.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that you should have a big Google sheet (or Excel online - I don’t have favorites) - and keep all of your code snippets in nicely-organized categories, with tags (as many as you need), and descriptions.

For example, let’s say you have a particular flexbox-based navigation solution.

Here’s a list of the spreadsheet’s columns, and their values:

  1. Snippet description: Flexbox menu
  2. Tags: flexbox, menu, navigation, nav, main menu, flex, responsive
  3. HTML code: “actual code in this field”
  4. CSS code: “actual code in this field”
  5. JS code: “actual code in this field”

Alternatively, you could just link to a Codepen pen - this comes with the added benefit that you can tweak the actual pen, and you don’t have to mess around with updating parts of the HTML, CSS, and JS code in actual spreadsheet cells - which would probably be really clunky.

Long story short: imagine the “power” and streamlining of your workflow a few years down the line?

You’ll be able to easily find all those little snippets and gems of wisdom that you’ve gathered through the years. Pretty cool productivity hack.

3. Read Coding Books, not Blogs

Usually, coding books are written by web industry’s veterans. That means they’ve gained valuable insights through years of experience “in the trenches”.

Blogs are built based on keyword research - they aim to “click-bait” you to an extent.

Books are a lot longer, usually more well thought-out, and researched in depth.

One downside of books is that they quickly lose relevance due to the speed at which the entire web development field is moving.

For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if my own Bootstrap 4 Cookbook is considered obsolete soon. Bootstrap 5 version is already here, and this is making the book “oldish”. As soon as Bootstrap 6 comes out - it’ll be straight up forgotten.

My own answer to the issue was writing “evergreen” books - books that are never complete. Just like software, they keep receiving updates.

I believe that’s the best way to go about writing technical books. That’s why I’ve started self-publishing - you can find my own never books on Leanpub.

4. Find a mentor

There are plenty of ways to find a mentor as a developer these days.

Having a free or paid mentor might do wonders for your professional development.

On Linux bash, when you use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + r, you’ll trigger the “reverse-i-search” functionality. Just start typing the first few letters of a command you’d like to reuse, and this utility will search through your bash command history to find a match.

It’s a great productivity booster, especially when you need to reuse a very long command - how on earth you’d remember it? Even if you did, you might make a typo. Even if you didn’t make a typo, it just takes too much time to type that long command out.

If time-waste fumbling with remembering a command is the problem, the reverse-i-search utility is the cure.

6. Use the Pomodoro technique to work and strech

It’s simple: work 25 minutes, stretch 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

Feel free to check out my work here: