Habits of Highly Productive Developers (and People)

Written by: Joao Buch

As a senior dev with almost a decade of experience who has been through the leadership courses at Clevertech and a developer who recently worked on a project that implemented a new ergonomics self-assessment solution for an office in one of the biggest oil companies on the planet saving the company half a million dollars in software licensing and allowing the business area to redesign the entire ergonomics assessment process, which increased engagement to over 200% I wanted to share some principles that made me who I am today.


"You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, whatever you become will be very good at shooting the wrong way. Practice the fundamentals and the level of everything you do will go up." - Michael Jordan

Learning the fundamentals will prepare you for the future. If you want to become a great developer, it's important to understand key concepts such as algorithms, logic, networks, accessibility, security, and user experience and most importantly learn about yourself. As Tanner Linsley says:

''There are new libraries being built every day by people just like you. More than likely you offer a unique perspective to the problems you experience every day and can use that perspective to both practice these skills, learn more about yourself, and make the world a better place.''

Decisions you make early in the development process determine the foundation of your project. Do you want to create a code-base that is maintainable in the long-run? Don’t get stuck fixing an early bad decision for the next 5 years. Learn the basics, then learn some more. We suggest Kent Dodd’s Fundamentals for Epic React.

Repetition helps create habits. Habits become second nature. Second nature saves you energy.


"Named must be your fear, before banish it you can." - Yoda

When you’re feeling an emotion that is uncomfortable, unpleasant, or creating distress, take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and name your emotion. Take an extra beat and get curious — find more specific words to define how you are feeling.

In doing this, you activate your brain in a healthy way that keeps you connected with your feelings (rather than pushing it down). It creates a bit of space between you and the feeling so you can evaluate it and choose how you want to respond, rather than just reacting.

  • Use language “I am feeling______” rather than “I am ________”
  • Example “I am feeling overwhelmed” rather than “I am overwhelmed.”

After you’ve named your feeling, take a moment to ask yourself, “What can I learn from this feeling” and explore the feeling a bit more. The more you take this small step, the stronger your brain will become in learning how to respond and evaluate your feelings rather than simply reacting to them.

We have so many words to describe emotions, yet developing emotional granularity can take some practice. It can be enjoyable and helpful to check out a Feelings Wheel and even look up definitions of words that describe feelings/emotions to increase our understanding of these words.


“The biggest fear most of us have with learning to say NO is that we will miss an opportunity. An opportunity that would have catapulted us to success, or that will never come again. And most of the time, that simply isn’t true. I’ve found that the first part of learning to say NO is learning to accept that offers and opportunities are merely an indication that you’re on the right path- not that you’ve arrived at a final destination you can never find again.

- Grace Bonney

If we attract opportunities to say YES, it means we’ve done something right - take that as a sign that things are going well enough to say no! If that doesn’t work, dig deeper and write out all the very bad, terrible, no-good, awful things that would happen if we said no to this opportunity. If nothing earth shattering will happen, go ahead and decline that offer. The more we practice saying no the better equipped we are to make a decision instead of just defaulting to yes.


"Waiting for the right time is seductive. Our mind tricks us into thinking that waiting is actually doing something. It's easy to land in a state where you're always waiting ... for the right moment, for things to be perfect, for everything to feel just right. It's easy to convince yourself that you're not ready and if you wait just a little longer then things will be easier. Waiting rarely makes things easier. Most of the time, waiting makes things harder. The right time is now." -Shane Parrish

A characteristic present in almost all human beings is that we are never satisfied with life. There is nothing wrong with that. Wishing for a better future is a basic principle of humanity.

The problem with wanting to change is the word but, For example:

  • "This country is horrible, I need to move urgently, but I don't know another language."

  • "I have an amazing idea, I need to put it into practice, but my boss doesn’t listen to me."

When we ask how to solve these problems, we see that behind every excuse there is an alternative. There are small steps that can take us far. Everyday, we work from home. There are distractions that mess with our productivity, but we are also allowed the freedom to have some fun.

Finding a balanced solution that helps us work smarter to save time and increase productivity can be a nice middle ground between work and distractions. Get started. Make mistakes, learn from them. Get distracted, regain focus. Work then take a break. Rinse and repeat…


Want to peek into our daily work? Our coaches recount real world situations shared as learning opportunities to build soft skills. We share frameworks, podcasts and thinking tools for sr software developers.

Keep on reading

Go to Blog home

The (remote) opportunities

We expect professionalism and client service, so we can offer a deeply caring experience for our clients. In return, you get freedom to work wherever you want. No timesheets, no big brother watching every move. We trust you to know what’s best to find the right solution.

    Don't see what you're looking for? Use our general application form

    Turn your toughest challenges into tangible business impact

    Get in touch

    Join Cleverdevelopers

    Want to peek into our daily work? Our coaches recount real world situations shared as learning opportunities to build soft skills. We share frameworks, podcasts and thinking tools for sr software developers.