Programming Productivity Killers

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. There is especially such a strong feeling like this just before the release of any new software version or when meeting a tight deadline. Such feelings appear if our balance at work is out of control. Different things can push each of us off balance at work. We’ve collected different thoughts about programming productivity killers among developers.

Meetings & Conference Calls

Most developers complain about a huge number of meetings. According to a Pulp-PR survey, an average IT person spends 5.6 hours per week on meetings. Most workers reported feeling like half of this time is wasted. 47% of the people said that these meetings were the biggest waste of their time at the office, according to a survey.

Meetings can delay work an hour per day or so. Meetings can become unproductive for a number of reasons. There are many steps to keep meetings as productive as possible and one step is to strategically plan meeting times – choose a specific topic and goal for the meeting, invite a limited number of employees and try to organize the meeting in the morning.


If we’re talking about emails as an alternative to meetings, they can be even worse. Email has become the new instant messenger system. On average, we’re spending 13 hours or 37% of the work week just checking emails. As a result, businesses lose yearly nearly $650B due to unnecessary emails. Also a study by the University of London suggests that IQ falls 10 points if you’re constantly checking email.

Numerous studies suggest that employees should turn off their email client for most of their working day and should be checking it only twice a day: when they start their working day and before they finish their day.

Trying to measure productivity

That is right, productivity should be measured. But it’s not so easy with programmers.

Some management teams try to measure productivity by counting commits or lines of software or bug fixes. They think this is how measurement works for programmers.

If developers concentrate on productivity measurements then they will be trying to writing longer lines of code or committing to the repository as many times as possible instead of thinking how to make code better.

The ‘fix it later’ mindset or ‘technical debt’

Every project has a tight deadline and a good result is always needed as soon as possible. But there is never enough time to build a project as it should be built. Sometimes you need to ‘cut corners’ in order to meet the deadlines. Some managers call it ‘technical debt’. But as with every debt, it should be paid off at later date. Often this debt is made by developers who weren’t involved in the first build of the software. As a result, lots of new technical issues appear that have an influence on the following releases of the software.

Nonprogrammer managers

Sometimes project managers are good at everything, except programming. It is not so important how they become project managers, but what is important is that they’re managing a project without a deep understanding of it.

Some programmers are happy to have such managers, as they are easy to explain a delay in the project to. Others say that these guys just call meetings, send emails, and don’t provide enough guidance to the project.

Programmer managers

Often programmers say that managers with technical skills can be much worse than nonprogrammer managers. These programmer managers often micromanage the project and want to change almost everything that was created before because they have a new vision. If the code you’ve created won’t be used and should be changed, then this can influence the productivity without even saying words.

Poor documentation

Creating documentation really takes time. But imagine what it is like to get a part of someone’s code without having any documentation. Or trying to understand some documentation that was written for some previous version of the code.

A well written and well explained documentation that is updated time to time and current to the latest software version can help you to understand the coding and will save you a lot of time in the future.

Distracting environment

Programmers often need library-like silence to concentrate on a task. Due to a CareerBuilder study, 23% of employees said that coworkers stopping by their office during a day was the largest distraction. Also 24% said they were less productive due to noisy coworkers.

The work day is full of constant distractions. Non-business ‘water cooler’ conversations, talking on cell-phones in the open working space can really be a challenge for being productive.

‘Cultural fit’

Every team works better if all the people in it have a similar style. It’s great if a team can generalize for themselves what is the best working environment. If someone yells a question then then this is fine if the team is trying to meet the deadline of a release. But if the team doesn’t feel comfortable with each other, then even a quiet question can be really destructive.

Surfing the Internet and Social Media

According to a Pulp-PR survey, 64% of employees visit non-work related websites every day. Web surfing at work costs businesses over $200B every year. The winners for this time-loss are Facebook (52%), Twitter (17%), and Instagram (11%). When a company has a policy that makes it okay to check Facebook or Instagram periodically, then the employees are more likely to get their work done during the rest of their time.

Bermuda triangle of productivity

The best way to combat productivity killers is to gain an awareness of the time that you waste and its value.