Hi everyone in this article I want to present some useful tips about Soft Skills that I discover in a, not so, recent episode of Syntax - A Tasty Treats Podcast for Web Developers. In this episode Soft Skills Tips, Wes and Scott talked about skills tips on productivity, planning, communication and more... so let's dive in.
This first point is crucial to never miss things to do, and it concerns the much loved (or hated) To-Do List because they represent the fastest way to mark the things we must remember so as not to miss them. There are two ways to organize To-Do lists:
- A single list containing all the things we have to do: work, personal life, sports, children;
- So many separate lists by topic to keep separate aspects of our lives and not put them all in one cauldron.
Personally, I use Todoist for my To-Do Lists and organize them with a mix of the two described methods because I tend to use only one list for everything but, through tags, I categorize entries so that they are divided by topic. This allows me to have an overview of all things and then filter them according to what I'm focusing on.
Within the list, you can then sort by importance and urgency, estimated time for completion (the fastest ones at the top), desire to do them (at the bottom there are always those we don't want to do) and this depends a lot on our personality or attitude.
Personally, I don't put them in a particular order but generally, at the beginning of the day I tend to do the "fast" ones so that they give me the boost to start the day positively, then I switch to the long ones that I often don't want to do, leaving for last those that are less important or that I can postpone to the next day.
This concept is very interesting as it is recommended to use any medium (paper, app, document) where you can write down important information over time and that often come in handy (procedures that we have to do every now and then, links to documentation) so that they can be found easily. In a way, it is very similar to the bookmarks that you can put in the browser or the "read it later list" but it can also be extended to the documentation that we have written ourselves because we find it useful.
Similarly, when we come up with an idea, a project, a change to make, or something that we must not miss, it is highly recommended to immediately pin it down somewhere. In this way we do not have to strain after some time to go and remember it, we just need to pick up the note. For this reason, I always keep a page of Notion called "Crazy Ideas" in which to merge all my absurd ideas in the shower or before falling asleep, and from time to time I go to reread it to see if there is something good.
These two indications can be condensed into a quote that I really like and it sounds more or less like this
We must use our brain as a processor and not as a hard disk
One absolutely essential thing to do is to avoid multitasking as much as possible and try as much as possible to focus on only one thing at a time to avoid what is called "context switch". That’s the practice where we keep changing the subject and every time we have to start over and pick up where we left off, this leads us not to take full advantage of the time we spend on a project because we lose the initial time to understand what we were doing.
In the same way, when you have a project that you have to carry out focus for a few days or a few weeks exclusively on that so that you can be focused, some call it "getting into the flow", and you don’t have to keep changing projects or you’re not going to carry it out satisfactorily.
If you have to release something and switch to another don’t worry if it is not absolutely perfect (most likely it will never be in your eyes) but your goal must be to positively close that context so you don’t have to go back immediately having to switch to something else.
If you can't stay focused for a long time on a certain topic you can define time slots as long as you want in which to dedicate yourself only to one thing. In that slot, you MUST only do that thing and in the next slot you will move on, so you can advance on multiple fronts but keep the context switch to a minimum.
We all have deadlines for our projects whether they are professional or hobby, in any case, we must be honest first of all with ourselves and then with a possible customer/boss. It is absolutely NOT necessary to promise that it will take less than the time required for the sole purpose of looking good in the eyes of others because if you can not comply with the timing you will get the opposite effect.
Precisely for this reason, when there is a deadline, keep some extra time in case things do not go as you expect because it is a good thing to finish early but it is not at all nice to finish late.
Especially in business communications do not get people used to responding too quickly to communications because otherwise, they may think you are always available and have nothing to do. I’m not saying to take days to reply to an email but simply not to reply immediately, you have your job to do, which will most likely not be to reply only to the emails, and it is important that the people you work with understand this.
Define a communication channel to use with customers and do not accept other types of communication otherwise, they will end up using what is most convenient for them but may not be for you. This could lead you to have many communication channels: email, telephone, iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc... that you will always have to be available and this is wrong because your job is not to reply to messages.
When you have to learn something new or delve into new technology do make that thing fun so that you’ll want to go back. While experimenting with a new language or framework, don't do it by always implementing the same boring to-do lists but look for something fun or that solves a problem in a funny way that first of all pushes yourself into carrying it out and then other people to take an interest in it.
The best way to learn something is to share it with others when you’ve done a project that you think is useful to someone, SHARE IT. This not only gives you the chance to better understand what you have done, but it can increase your network, and thus indirectly also your chances of improving your job position.
It doesn't have to be something related to the world of coding but showing that you have created a certain number of online content makes it clear to other people that you have certain skills and that you have put in a lot of effort to achieve your goals. These contents can be of various types such as Youtube videos, documentation, tutorials, or articles.
Take your time
When you are learning something do not compare with others because everyone learns at a different speed and surely there will be someone ahead of you in a certain topic but this should not stop you, you go your own way and improve every day.
To track your progress, write down what you have done, what you’re missing, and what you want to explore, so you can always go back, review some parts or focus on your next steps.