Most of us have a time of day when we’re in the groove. If you believe the stereotype, developers work best late at night, fuelled by caffeine in the soft glow of a computer screen.
Not me. I’m a morning person. I’m often up at 5AM and in full stride by 7:30. I think best before noon, as usually evidenced by last night’s work.
Morning me often thinks late night me is a moron.— Wynn Netherland (@pengwynn) December 9, 2013
Early in my career, I would double down on frustrating bugs. Late nights would stretch into the wee hours of the morning. In time, I learned that stepping away from code can be just as productive as stepping through code. Solutions often seem “obvious” when you return to them after a break. For me, that’s usually the next morning.
Knowing this, I try to employ a few hacks to my workday.
Create before consuming. Following a tip from Jason Rudolph, I’ve started setting aside time each morning for creative work. Starting the morning with some writing or other thought-intensive work has yielded better results and put me in a better frame of mind to jump into the tasks of the day.
Batch email, issue triage, and mundane tasks during non-peak hours. Tim Ferris helped make “batching” popular years ago. I try to tackle the bulk of my batch processing in the afternoons and reserve my mornings for tasks that require more focus.
End the day with a failing test. Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned to do is set myself up for the next morning. A failing test can verify a bug or describe how a new feature should behave. I don’t have to have the implementation or the impact to the rest of the codebase figured out before I walk away. I can tackle those bigger questions the next day, when I’m fresh.