Why Do You Think Programmers Work at Night and Still are Productive?

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Why do most programmers work their stuff in evening and in the wee hours and not during daytime? Let us dissect the day and the night work of a programmer and understand how this affects his work effectiveness and overall productivity.

Programmers Work at Night

Programming is a mental process and involves a lot of focus, awareness, concentration, time and effort.  Thus, there can be days when programmers are very productive and accomplish a lot, and days where they less constructive and accomplish very little. Just like an artist, a programmer’s productivity can be stalled by temper, mood, lack of sleep, disturbing and distracting noises. There are a number of ways to help improve programmer productivity and set up the most favorable environment and time of the day for accomplishing coding tasks.

One can’t start working until a couple of hours without being distracted is anticipated and achieved as mental investment is a huge factor in completing a complicated task. It’s just not worth creating in your mind and visualizing a model and then having it junked and crumpled down after few minutes or an hour later. Isn’t it frustrating?

If a programmer works in a typical office environment during the day, series of interruptions are likely to be:

  • When he/she arrives at work, an hour or two are spent opening the email, reading and replying to all concerned parties and solving problems.
  • Scheduled and more so with non-scheduled meetings.
  • Proposing and discussing design details
  • Phone calls
  • Environment and atmosphere (noise and other factors that contributes to distraction)

And the rest of the day is spent with the real programming work.

  • Code reviews and triaging bugs
  • Testing and debugging running code
  • Executing tests and documentation
  • Researching technologies or files
  • Formulate and develop designs
  • Implementing codes

Before the day ends, a programmer is already burned, stressed out, and at times exasperated with all the day’s work in the office and sometimes with less output. Evening is when our body has the time to recover from all the day’s work. However, there are night owls who are more productive if he/she works during nighttime or the wee hours for the following reasons:

  • Less attack of interruptions like emails, meetings, solving office problems and others.
  • More concentration because no or less calls to attend to
  • Conducive environment because he/she is comfortable working at home or in the office with less distractions
  • One programmer quoted “Because being tired makes us better coders.”
  • Can code for hours with more focus
  • Staring at a bright source of light in the evening like the computer screen makes sleep cycle gets delayed.
  • No time limit on when you have to stop working as long as your mind is working.
  • Relaxed approach while sipping a cup of coffee or tea with no distraction.

How to become a productive programmer?

  • Create a calm, quiet and relaxed workstation.
  • Get rid of Internet distractions. Don’t read so much news about hackers.
  • Have the right tools.
  • Simplify processes and programming tools.
  • Update your programming skills and read even more codes. By reading new codes, this will ensure that you keep discovering new stuff to learn.
  • Learn new things that you think nobody has learned yet or is not common.
  • Learn multiple languages but master a few of them. You don’t need to master all the languages but learning 2 or 3 and mastering them will make you a good programmer.
  • Get familiar with the foundations of development and make sure to understand the basics of algorithms, design patterns, source control, data structures and software architecture.End a programming session with a problem. This way, even if it’s a simple one to solve, can help you as a programmer to quickly get into the flow of working and move onto more difficult and complicated programming tasks.
  • Take time off to revitalize and restore yourself and have that boost of energy again.

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