The Work Life of Developers: Activities, Switches and Perceived Productivity

This work has been conducted by André Meyer (UZH), Laura Barton (UBC), Gail Murphy (UBC), Thomas Zimmermann (Microsoft) and Thomas Fritz (UZH).

Many software development companies strive to enhance the productivity of their engineers. All too often, efforts aimed at improving developer productivity are undertaken without knowledge about how developers spend their time at work and how it influences their own perception of productivity and well-being. For example, a software developers’ work day might be influenced by the tasks that are performed, by the infrastructure, tools used, or the office environment. Many of these factors result in activity and context switches that can cause fragmented work and, thus, often have a negative impact on the developers’ perceived productivity, quality of output and progress on tasks.

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What is machine learning and why is it crucial to our future?

Besides “artificial intelligence” and “virtual reality”, “machine learning” (short: ML) is probably the most hyped technology in the past few years. And, at least in my opinion, with every right. However, it’s not that as if ML was just invented recently, as the term was first coined in 1959 by Arthur Samuel, a pioneer in the field of ML who described the technology as:

Machine learning is a field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.

What is ML?

ML is a computational, or rather, statistical, method that uses experience to improve the performance of a topic or make accurate predictions. The ‘experience’ in that case is based on past data that we can access and that is labelled or categorized (by humans). The quality of the predictions depends on the accuracy and amount of the data.

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FlowLight: How a Traffic-Light Reduces Interruptions at Work

I am extremely happy to announce our newest project, FlowLight, a traffic-light-like light for knowledge workers to reduce their interruptions at work, and makes them more productive! The research project, published with the title “Reducing Interruptions at Work: A Large-Scale Field Study of FlowLight”, was conducted in close collaboration with researchers at ABB. It was also awared with an Honorable Mention award.

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Picturex: Collect the best Snapshots from your visit at Tierpark Goldau

I am thrilled to announce the first publicly available version of Picturex for Business. Tierpark Goldau, a Swiss landscape and animal park, offers its visitors a unique way to share and exchange the best snapshots they took during their visit at the Tierpark. Also, users of the Tierpark Momente-App can create private photo albums to share their photos in private within their family.

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David Allen: Why you should keep things off your mind to get into “the zone”

What is productivity? Many would describe it as the time you spend in “the zone” when you get things done. The time you are fully present, totally engaged with what happens, time you spend in the productive flow. But how to get there? David Allen, one of the responsible people that elicited my interest in researching productivity, talked about his time-management method getting things done in on TED a few years back.

Being appropriately engaged with what is going on

The secret to stress-free productivity, according to Allen, is to be totally committed and engaged with just a single thing at a time. The more that is on your mind at the same time, the more inappropriately you are engaged, and the less you can focus on just doing the thing you should be doing. It may sound counter intuitive or even awkward, but the key to being able to fully engage with the current project/task is to park everything unrelated to the task on a separate list that you regularly revisit in the right time and trust that it lets you never forget a thought or idea.

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Spending time in the mountains makes you happy

According to an Austrian Psychologist, people who regularly go for hikes in the mountains are happier. The positive effect already starts after 3+ hours and reduces negative feelings such as fear of failing or lack of energy.

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Why there is no “I don’t have time for that”

We all have this in common: We live in a busy world. And we all have got the same 24 hours to spend. While (at least in theory) we can choose what to spend our time on, most of us are always in a hurry. And we often excuse ourselves with: “I don’t have time for that.” But that’s not entirely true…

I was regularly thinking or saying “I don’t have time for that.”. Was. Until I saw a Ted talk by Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert, who studies how busy people spend their lives. She discovered that extremely busy people, such as a woman with multiple kids, a houshold to take care of and a very successful career, still had time to go for a hike on a Wednesday – a weekday!

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Cope with Stress and Control your Performace in any Environment

In my strive to make people more productive, less stressed and generally happier at work, I’ve found an interesting article on Business Insider who interviewed Eric Potterat, a former head psychologist for the US Navy SEALs. He mentions that one similarity of “elite people”, whether they are athletes or military members, is how they cope with stress. He describes that people who control stress can control their performance in any environment, and that anyone can learn it and turn it into a habit.

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How you can become more active at work

Are you often feeling stressed during your work days? Do you never really find the time to do sports and train your body? You are not alone, but there are many easy things to be more active and healthy at work.

Walk-Meetings

Meetings don’t have to be held in a dark and boring meeting room. Get your meeting partner(s) up and go out to take a walk. I usually take paper and pen with me (yes, they still exist! 🙂 ) to take notes.

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Multitasking is Bad for your Productivity and could be Damaging your Brain

Are you a multi-tasker? Maybe it’s time to reconsider your work habits.

I personally know many who are proud to be able towork on several tasks at the same time, as they “get more stuff done than others”. However, research has found out that multi-tasking is actually less productive than doing just one thing at a time. Here is why:

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Kevin Kelly: Humans are good at inefficiency, Productivity is for Robots

I’ve just watched an incredibly interesting TED Talk by Kevin Kelly, who explains why technological progress is inevitable and why robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will not kill all our jobs.

Much like our strive to make things faster, easier and more convenient couldn’t prevent the phone or internet to be ‘invented’, broad use of AI systems are inevitable. That’s why Kelly suggests us to “embrace AI to steer it”.

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How to Easily Secure Your Online Accounts!

I am a frequent reader of Paul Thurrot’s Microsoft Insider blog and think this one about securing your internet identity/accounts is very worth to share, and probably a good intention to do (soon) in 2017!

In the blog post, he talks about how important and easy (!) it is to secure your online accounts on Facebook, Dropbox, Microsoft, Google, and so on with the Two-Factor-Authentication and why you should use a separate password for each online service you are using! As probably nobody can remember all the passwords used anyway, he recommends to use a password manager, such as LastPass or KeePass.

You can find the article on thurrot.com. Start now, and secure your online identity!

Work Hard, Play Hard: How to find the perfect work life balance?

tl;dr: I don’t know. But YOU should achieve it!

Some swear on only working a few hours each day, but have maximum focus and productivity in that time. Others would never work on weekends, to get time off for friends, family, sports and leisure. On the other hand, there are many successful people who are working 90 hours a week. There is a famous quote that Bill Gates never took a day off until he was 31.

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5 Ideas to Reflect about 2016.

A warm welcome to 2017!

I’ve recently backed BetterBack, a fantastic gadget for a better posture and back pain relief and I am looking forward to receive the BetterBack in April 2017. Katherine, the creator of BetterBack cited Amber Rae who suggested five ideas to reflect about 2016 that help plan a better 2017:

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Merry Christmas and an Exciting New Year!

Dear Followers and Readers,

I wish you a merry christmas, some quality time for family, friends and yourself and all the best for the new year! May 2017 be as exciting and challenging (in a positive way) as this year was, and also a happy, fulfilling and healthy one!

Best,
André