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A Powerful Tool For Software Engineer Productivity - Focus Blocks

12/20/2022

So many junior software engineers don't manage their calendar well, and this especially hurts their ability to write code and finish tickets efficiently. Don't blindly go into every meeting, especially as a junior software engineer who is often not relevant to the meeting. Be deliberate with your calendar and establish focus blocks.

Here are the core points from the video:

  • So what is a focus block? - It's a long, uninterrupted period of time for you to focus on a singular track of work. A true focus block should be 4+ hours, ideally an entire work day.
  • Why are focus blocks important for coding? - Humans are naturally bad at context switching, so focus blocks are just important for productivity in general. Having a focus block allows you to enter a "flow state" where you rate of work ramps up over time and you get more and more into the groove. When it comes to coding in particular, the focus time is crucial as context switching with code is especially painful. It takes a while to deep back into a codebase when you return to a coding task, and there's also practical reasons like rebasing your local and setting up your build environment again.
  • How can I set up a focus block? - The main "culprit" behind hurting your focus blocks is meetings. Be aggressive about shaving meetings off your calendar where you aren't a core player, especially if you're earlier-in-career. Group the remaining meetings you have onto certain days with the goal of freeing up 1-2 days entirely for coding. 1 on 1 meetings will be the easiest to move. For the meetings you do end up going to, follow this advice to really participate and get maximum value out of them.

This highlight is from our masterclass on "How To Write Better Code Faster As A Software Engineer". Click here to watch it.

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