It’s the hot topic all developers talk about. Their tool sets…and why their toolset is better than yours. Why [insert IDE here] is better than [insert another IDE here], and why you need an IDE over a simple extensible text editor. What debugging methods you use, somehow, means you are either a hack or a professional. You can try and deny it, it happens whenever two or more developers get within an earshot of each other. Heck, we’ll even jump into a conversation (sometimes leaving the one we’re in), because we overheard “how much better” something is.

Guess what?

We are ALL wrong

As always, it comes down to personal preference, sort of. I say “sort of” because what it really comes down to is efficiency. At the end of the day, whether you build products or work hourly for clients, your time is worth a calculable amount of money. The faster you can get something done, the most money per hour you can make. While personal preference has a lot to do with that, you could be missing something that makes you more efficient.

No job is too small

I’ll reference a story my father told me about UPS and their package car routes. You’ve probably witnessed it on Mythbusters, a myth about only making right turns. Well according to some sources, this helped eliminate ~4.83[1] miles from each package car’s yearly mileage.

Wait, ‘yearly’. I typed that right didn’t I?! Yeah I did.

So why is that a big deal? Because given the fact that they have ~96,000 package cars on the road every year, the total savings of mileage is a bit more impressive. It totals to 464,000 miles[1], and saved them 51,000[1] gallons of fuel that year. Given the approximate average of fuel that year was $2.25 per US Gallon[2], that’s a savings of $1,044,000.

Small improvements, when repeated, can return big gains

So why the discussion

The point of the story is to re-evaluate your own work flows. I have a general rule. If I run a command more than twice a day, I write an alias for it. If it’s a sequence of commands, I write a script for it. Here’s my reasoning, let’s say with all my tools and scripts I save myself 10 minutes a day. Here’s the math:

10 Minutes a day * 5 days = 50 minutes a week (big deal, that’s a lunch break)
50 Minutes a week * 52 weeks/year = 2600 minutes (getting more interesting)
2600 minutes / 60 minutes (1 hour) = 43.33 hours (Yeah, I just gained a weeks worth of work time for the year)

You might be thinking, big deal, but what if you are a company of 100 developers and your all paid ~$40/hour
Total company ‘savings’: $160,000/year

You’ll notice that savings is in quotes. It’s not that you aren’t spending the salary of the developers, they are just getting more time to do their job, so it’s like saving it, when in reality it’s getting more out of the money you are spending.

What’s your secret?

So how are you making yourself more efficient? I’d love to hear what tools, workflows, and time saving tips you all have that are helping you get the most out of your precious minutes.


Sources

  • [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Parcel_Service
  • [2] http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?f=W&n=PET&s=EMM_EPMR_PTE_NUS_DPG

 

Posted by Chris Klosowski

Chris Klosowski is the Director of Technology at Sandhills Development, LLC, creators of fine WordPress plugins, and ecommerce solutions.

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