Your Productivity Funnel & The Three Plagues of Programming

Today, I want to talk about the productivity funnel.

That is, your productivity funnel and the three plagues of programming and how to get past those obstacles. The three plagues are: procrastination, perfectionism, and distraction.

Coming right up.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that can go in. We can observe a ton, right? But, we can only produce so much. The bottom of the filter is what you’re able to produce and the top of the filter are all the things coming in, right? Meetings, phone calls, interruptions, distractions, right? Procrastination, delays, I’m sitting here thinking about other things, I’m not getting to it, perfectionism, I’m over doing it now, the work has been done, I met the requirements from the spec standpoint and I just keep pouring myself onto it because I want it to be better, I want it to look really cool, I want to comment it to death. Perfectionism. All of these things clog the funnel here, right? Think of distractions, procrastination, and perfectionism as things that block your productivity funnel, right?

It’s really, really important to keep it clean and to focus and to weed out the things like distraction and procrastination. Procrastination is obvious, right? I’m delaying, I’m sitting here, I’m on Facebook or Twitter, or maybe I’m just researching unrelated, I’m doing something other than what I’m supposed to be doing which is to move my project forward. Remember, the deal with productivity is the more productive I am, the more successful I’m going to be so it’s so important to weed out procrastination, which is plague number one. Number two, perfectionism. Like I said, sometimes we overdo things. We overthink it, we spend way too much time with it, we know we only needed to spend this much time, somehow we spent this much time so we could make it better, and better, and better. But ultimately, the people that are paying us could care less about our perfectionism.

They just want it to work. They want it to work first time. Remember, when you’re perfecting something over and over again, you’re introducing bugs, challenges, new things that have to be QA’d so weed out the perfectionism and keep your funnel clear. The number one plague of any programmer is distraction. Of course perfectionism and procrastination are themselves distractions, but I mean ringing telephones, meetings, interruptions, lunch times. We need all of those things, but it’s our jobs as software developers to try to push those things out to the minimum that they require, right? Surfing the web, looking at the sports scores, what’s playing at the movies, do I need to bring home a gallon of milk?

All of this stuff, all of these distractions, right? It’s really important that we look at our daily schedule and we say, “From this hour to this hour, I’m not doing anything but sitting here writing code. I’m doing the central part of my job and I’m pushing out distractions.” Push email out for an hour at a time at least so you’re not constantly checking email every time it dings at you, or your phone, man. These are horrible distractions and incredibly limiting factors to your programming productivity. Remember the funnel, the blockages, and there are many, many more. But, this is a good picture, right? You can take in a lot, but you can only produce so much. The more non-productive crap you put in your funnel, the less it’s coming out and the less successful you’re going to be.

Work on eliminating procrastination, perfectionism, and distraction. I’m going to do more video on these topics, but today, that’s an introduction. Think of a funnel as your mind, a lot coming in, a little coming out. The more I limit what goes in actually the more that’s going to come out, in terms of productive programming.

That’s it. I am Scott with Motivated Code Pro.

This is your productivity funnel. Keep coming back. Like, subscribe, and hit the bell so you don’t miss any videos and I’ll see you on the next video.

About the Author Scott Salisbury

Scott is the creator of Motivated Code Pro and the Managing Partner of Pinch Hitter Solutions, Inc. Motivated Code Pro is devoted to helping developers build better software careers. Pinch Hitter Solutions ( is a consultancy focused on mobile app development and enterprise web work. Scott works primarily in Java and JavaScript and focuses on Spring and Ext JS.

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