What you can try to reduce information overload

Most developers would like to be able to focus plainly on … developing. Because after all, that’s what we love! Any other activity can feel superficial or frustrating, especially when we are in the middle of cracking that issue that has been keeping us on the deck for days. 

Ok, we’re being dramatic. 

Or are we 😉? Let’s say, it has happened at least once to all of us to feel like isolating in a bubble, with no interference, until we have finished what we want to be done. Because that’s hardly possible these days, we thought we would share with you some tips to reduce useless information spamming - and that’s a good first step! 

Programming requires a great deal of concentration. You’re working on multiple apps, pull requests and issues are piling up, and when a bug comes up, all your attention is required. So when your laptop blows up with Slack and Gmail notifications, it’s hard to focus. Whether you are working at the office or from home, you want to avoid the salesman knocking at your door or the cat dancing on your keyboard. 

According to a University of California Irvine study, “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.” Multiply it by the number of interruptions you get in one day and you can easily lose hours worth of work. 

Go ahead, take a regular workday and count the number of calls, door knocks and chat messages. Impressive, right? 

Programmer sign
Image credit: Geek's Humor

Most of the time, it’s not your fault but your productivity is impacted. Sometimes, not only are developers misunderstood in everyday life but they are also misunderstood in the working environment. 

The boss can sometimes be out of sync with the developers. He considers estimates as deadlines and plans a countless number of meetings to make sure everything is under control. And that definitely IS frustrating!

If you are a freelancer, it’s even more complicated to organize your daily work because you have to maintain a customer relationship while delivering high-quality software. Oh, let’s not forget about that client that just wants a little additional feature “that won’t take much time” to implement… don’t we just love the “it won’t take much time”!

You get it. Being a developer comes with a lot of responsibilities and things you love to hate. But it’s part of the game! One thing we know is that to reduce your information flow, you need to be organized and focus on one priority at a time.

Why is it so frustrating to be interrupted?

I like the image of the cards tower in this article by Dan Willoughby. He explains that building concentration is like building a card tower. It takes time to erect it, one card at a time. And you know that the tiniest interruption can put it all to the ground.

That’s what frustration feels like.

To avoid interruptions, don’t be afraid to put a sign on your desk or to mark yourself as “Busy” in your internal chat. You can also put your headphones on even if you don’t listen to any music. These hacks might earn you extra time for concentration. 

Take a deep breath and sort your information sources

Before you start, know where your resources are. Take time to organize your desktop, both physically and virtually. 

Once you’re ready to go, a good idea is to implement a communication policy with your team. Make it clear about when you can be disturbed and on what channel. You might use Slack, Trello, or Gmail. 

Select which communication channels are dedicated for your team. If you’re not the person in charge, talk about it with your boss! 

Spare daily time for urgent matters. You’re not a robot, stop multitasking! It’s better to stay focused on one thing at a time. Choose a time slot where people can come to you without interrupting. That would be your very own personal “helpdesk hours”. Terribly efficient!

Another way to avoid distraction is to turn off notifications an hour a day for instance. It might be a little risky, but if you really want to concentrate on an item, shut down everything around you and come back online when the work is done. You may find this disturbing the first time you try, but you’ll see, trying it is definitely adopting it! 

Now that you have some hacks to avoid distractions and to organize your work, here’s how you can reduce your information flow and gain precious development time.

Get a collaboration tool that sorts information for you

Let’s be honest, reducing information overload can be challenging. A great deal of them are often related to the same issues and pull requests and could be avoided. There are so many notifications that it’s easy to lose track of a project’s progress and even miss a review. Most critically, it becomes easy to lose sight of what really matters at the time it does. 

The development comes with a lot of processes and steps that involve repositories but also management and tracking tools. However, those management tools were not designed for developers - rather reassure the project manager that “things are on track”.

So how about reclaiming your development time and reducing your information flow?

Well, that’s precisely why we created Keypup. 

Keypup provides automated follow-ups, reports, and bulk merges. Instead of having dozens of emails from different apps, Keypup fetches all project data and gathers them in a priority inbox or a smartboard... See sorted & prioritized clean data from all your team's development tools in one place, across all your projects. Cool, eh?

We were tired, just like you, of notifications piling up in our inbox. Most of the time, we ended up spending countless hours responding to each of them. When it comes to development, we wanted to level up our software delivery process by creating a tool that could take care of all the white noise surrounding development (and by noise we mean management stuff).

So here’s how it works. Let’s take an example.

You open a PR. Keypup allows you to connect all your usual apps (GitHub, Trello, Jira, Slack, and more). Once you connect your identities and import the relevant project, you can see in Keypup all your project items with the recommended actions required. Instead of searching for a specific item in your Gmail, Keypup shows you all the items you’re involved in and pings you once an action from you is required. 

For example, if you have a green Pull request pending, it will appear in your Review and Merge board. Keybot, your development assistant, will offer to merge it for you. Just click on merge and it’s done. 

Slack Review and Merge

We know this will not prevent all the interruptions you suffer in a day (especially the proverbial data analyst coming to your office every day or two), but Keypup is here to help developers juggle multiple projects at the same time. Save time, code more, be happy!

One last thing. We wrote a whole piece about workflow optimization, you might want to check it.

Let’s chit-chat together! Follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think about Keypup.

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