5 Programming Productivity Hacks

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1) Quickly Jump Between files.

Jumping between files is essential in programming. We’re constantly looking for classes or trying to remember how a section of code works. I cringe whenever one of my friends tries to find a file in the Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder. The keyboard is dramatically faster.

One of the reasons I love Sublime Text is because it lets me do fuzzy file search. I type a few letters of the name, and the file appears in the dropdown. I can completely screw up how something is spelled and Sublime will still find it.

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Before I found Sublime, I would use the Fuzzy Finder plugin for Vim, but the performance sucks if you give it too many files.

2) Increase Your Typing Speed

This one is obvious.

If you’re a programmer, you spend a ridiculous amount of time entering text into your computer. It follows that increasing your typing speed will speed up the rate that you write code.

You should aim for 80-100 words per minute. I know some people who can move just as quickly with the mouse and smart copying and pasting, but most of us still have to type a lot.

Use sites like http://www.speedtypingonline.com/typing-test to increase your speed. I usually play around with these things for fun. Testing your speed is addictive.

3) Consider Navigating with the Keyboard

Many of you will roll your eyes at this one, but as a VIM enthusiast, I couldn’t help myself.

I navigate all my files with h,j,k,l instead of left, right, up, and down. I rarely leave the home row of my keyboard, and I definitely never move my fingers all the way over to the arrow keys.

4) Use the Right Tool for the Job

I’m not dogmatic about anything, so I try to use the best tool for the task. For example, I don’t use Sublime Text for Java.

The Intellisense in tools like IntelliJ and Eclipse is too good to ignore. It increases your productivity by 2X. You never need to know imports, and you never need to wait for a compile cycle to catch your errors.

I should probably use VisualStudio more for C++ for the same reasons – it’s a great development environment, but I hate switching over from the Mac to Windows.

5) Just Start Writing

Allow yourself to write crappy code. Spend as little time as possible sitting and thinking through your design. You’re probably going to have to rewrite everything anyway.

This is similar to overcoming writer’s block. The easiest way to get things done is to ignore the perfectionist in your head and just start writing. Accept that you’re going to produce stuff that sucks. That’s okay. You can come back and do it again once you understand the problem better.

photo credit: 24151425850_1cb6040569_o-2 via photopin (license)

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