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The Mindful Developers: Being Less Busy & More Productive (MidwestPHP 2017)

David McKay
March 17, 2017

The Mindful Developers: Being Less Busy & More Productive (MidwestPHP 2017)

Being a developer, programmer, analyst, tester, designer, etc … is hard. We work in an industry that champions the 12+ hour work day; continued learning and open source contributions, but not on the company’s dollar. We’re continually berated with the idea of the 10x developer and so we must work harder, read more blogs, write more code and buy more books … but when will it ever end? Will technology ever stand still long enough to let us all catch up? No. You’ll always be busy, busy playing catch up in a race you didn’t sign up for.

Fortunately, there’s another way. Instead of being busy, I can help you be more productive. I will walk you through some of the tools and techniques that I use on a daily basis to maintain and upgrade my skills in a world of ever changing technology, and, more importantly; to protect my sanity, be more present and remove stress and fear from my life.

David McKay

March 17, 2017


  1. The Mindful Developer Be More Productive & Less Busy

  2. None
  3. David McKay ★ Scottish ★ Productivity Nerd ★ Aspiring Stoic

  4. Me: ➔ Software Consultant ➔ Speaker ➔ OpenSource Contributor Pets:

    ➔ Bichon Frise ➔ Ferret ➔ 3 Degus ➔ 5 Chinchillas ➔ 2 Russian Dwarf Hamsters Organiser of: ➔ ScotlandPHP ➔ Docker Glasgow ➔ DevOps Glasgow ➔ Pair Programming Glasgow ➔ MongoDB Glasgow Volunteer: ➔ Technical Lead TEDx Glasgow
  5. Chinchilla?

  6. Your brain is a liar!

  7. None
  8. None
  9. Bat & Ball ➔ A bat and ball cost $1.10

    ➔ The bat is $1 more than the ball ➔ How much does the ball cost?
  10. Pretzels ➔ It takes 5 machines, 5 minutes, to make

    5 pretzels ➔ How many minutes does it take 100 machines to make 100 pretzels?
  11. None
  12. System 1 Fast / Automatic aka “The Chimp” ➔ Fast

    Response ➔ Unconscious ➔ Effortless / Automatic ➔ Dumb and Gullible
  13. System 2 Slow / Pragmatic ➔ Deliberate / Conscious ➔

    Effortful ➔ Controlled Mental Process ➔ Logical and Skeptical
  14. Which brain would you rather use each day?

  15. Mindfulness

  16. Eight Weeks of Mindfulness ➔ 27 Minutes Per Day ➔

    Major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus ➔ Decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala ➔ None of these changes were seen in the control group http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/
  17. One Mindful Breath

  18. Getting Things Done

  19. ➔ Capture ➔ Clarify ➔ Organise ➔ Reflect ➔ Engage

  20. “Our mind is for having ideas, not holding them David

  21. Capture ANYTHING that needs your attention ➔ An email you

    need to respond to ➔ An article you want to read later ➔ Tickets to the Chevelle gig just announced ➔ The warranty on your new TV Fill that inbox!
  22. Your brain needs to trust the system.

  23. Clarify ➔ Is this an action or reference? ➔ If

    it’s an action, will it take less than two minutes? ➔ Is there a next action?
  24. Organise ➔ Lists ◆ Work ◆ Relationship ◆ OSS Project

    ◆ Someday / Maybe ➔ Contexts
  25. ➔ Some tasks are people based #David ➔ Some tasks

    are location based #Home #Office #Phone #Laptop ➔ Some tasks are blocked #Waiting Not all tasks are created equal.
  26. Reflect You don’t know if you’re on the right track,

    if you don’t know where you’ve been
  27. ➔ Did I make progress on each of my lists?

    ➔ Can you chase up anything that is #Waiting? ➔ Organise your inbox ➔ Archive completed projects The Weekly Review
  28. “If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your

    attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves David Allen
  29. Time is the only commodity that matters Randy Pausch

  30. Efficiency Effectiveness

  31. Goals

  32. Goals What do you want from life? 1. Career /

    Education 2. Financial 3. Family 4. Artistic 5. Attitude 6. Physical 7. Pleasure 8. Public Service
  33. Goals ➔ Goals don’t need to be large ➔ Goals

    must be SMART ➔ Be honest with yourself ➔ Macro & Micro Goals
  34. 3 Goals 30 Seconds

  35. Goals If there’s an item on your to-do list that

    doesn’t help you reach one of your goals: ➔ Why are you doing it? ➔ Have you identified a missing goal? ➔ Delete it
  36. Goals Weekly Review’s are your best way to monitor your

    goals ➔ Did I make progress on all of my goals? ➔ What one thing can I do in the next week to help my goals? ➔ Are my goals still relevant?
  37. Building a system takes time and it can be frustrating

  38. Habits

  39. None
  40. “What we found was that it takes 66 days on

    average for people in our study to acquire a habit Professor Jane Wardle
  41. Why are habits important?

  42. None
  43. None
  44. None
  45. You’re a rat

  46. Keystone Habits ➔ Wake up at 5:30am ➔ Meditation ➔

    Exercise ➔ Check your email only twice a day ➔ Your working clothes
  47. It’s all Cookies and Radishes http://faculty.washington.edu/jdb/345/345%20Articles/Baumeister%20et%20al.%20%281998%29.pdf

  48. How I Work

  49. Becoming a Morning Person 5am is amazing … but it’s

    not easy I use a Light Alarm Clock
  50. Effective - Don’t look at your phone in the morning

    and try to avoid it during the day - Identify rabbit holes … Wikipedia!
  51. Stoicism Become Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

  52. Start with a cold shower

  53. Meditation Meditation is a great way to remind yourself to

    be a bit more present We’re always rushing through life; take a moment to stop and really experience where you are and who you’re with
  54. Tasks ➔ Digital & Physical ◆ TickTick (ticktick.com) ◆ Code

    & Quill Notebook ◆ Fountain Pens ◆ Rapid Logging ◆ Migration
  55. Rapid Logging ? Question - Note Task > Migrated ¿

    Make up your own!
  56. None
  57. Schedule ➔ Only put it in your calendar if it’s

    immutable ➔ Don’t try and “schedule” time for yourself ◆ Instead “Theme” your days
  58. Eat the Frog

  59. “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and

    nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day Mark Twain
  60. The Rule of Three Applying Pareto’s Principle to your to-do

  61. Pomodoro Work in time-boxes of 25 minutes Take a 5

    minute break Every 4 pomodoro’s, take a 25 minute break
  62. #NoEstimates

  63. “Work expands so as to fill the time available for

    its completion" C. Northcote Parkinson
  64. Deep Work / Flow

  65. “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that

    push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. Cal Newport
  66. Deep Work 1. Important 2. Fun 3. Within your skill

  67. Deep Work Foster the ability to perform Deep Work: ➔

    Drown out office noise with headphones ➔ Ensure you have no distractions ◆ Close Slack, Twitter, etc ➔ Build a habit out of your Deep Work cycles ➔ Stop working at 5:30pm. Let your brain recharge
  68. Music Don’t listen to music with vocals

  69. Other People Get comfortable saying “no”

  70. Eisenhower Matrix

  71. None
  72. Building a system takes time and it can be frustrating

  73. “Your success in life is the sum of your habits.

    Brian Tracy