Joao Alves

Engineering Manager at Skyscanner

Minimalism in Software Engineering — an introduction

Posted at — Mar 6, 2019

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Index:

  1. Minimalism in Software Engineering — an introduction
  2. Minimalism in Software Engineering — tidy that workplace
  3. Minimalism in Software Engineering — tidy that desktop
  4. Minimalism in Software Engineering — tidy that calendar

What’s minimalism and how can it help us become more efficient at our job as software engineers?

Well, minimalism is about living a better life with less stuff. The core idea is that by having fewer things and therefore less clutter in your home, you can focus on the really important things. How can we transfer that to our work life? The answer is in the word focus, and that’s what I’m going to try and share in this new series of articles, but first a quick introduction on how I got so interested in minimalism and hopefully, how you can too.

How I became a fan

I watched Minimalism: a documentary about the important things end of last year, and I had one of those eye-opening moments. The documentary definitely triggered something in me, I basically started packing up stuff at home straight away and ended up giving 3 boxes of stuff to charity and a lot of stuff ended up being recycled or in the bin as well.

After searching more about them, I found out they have this Minimalism Game where you get rid of 1 thing on day 1 of the month up to 31 things on day 31, making for a total of 496 items in a 31 day month. You might think it’s impossible, but trust me it’s not that hard. I suggest you give it a try and find out how it is an amazingly freeing experience. But, enough introduction about minimalism and how I found it. If you want to know more about the subject, definitely watch the documentary and follow their website as it’s really good.

But how can it have an impact on my productivity?

As mentioned above, the important word here is focus. Focus is one of the most important things for us as software engineers, we really need to get in that flow to tackle a lot of the problems we face day to day. We all dread those days with lots of context switching and interruptions and how they impact our concentration to complete any task that requires a bit more attention.

I personally struggle a lot with context switching and feel that whenever I get back to any task, I need some time to re-focus on and remember at which stage I was before getting this distracted. When this happens a lot during a day, it basically adds up to a lot of wasted time that could be better used.

The one thing I felt at home after decluttering a lot, is that not only the space around you is much lighter and tidier, but also how much easier it is to focus and access the stuff you really need. After having that aha moment at home, I decided to try and experiment with some minimalism with work-related things and see if it would make my work experience more enjoyable and also help with focus and productivity.

Without much of a surprise (because I saw the results in my personal life as mentioned above), it helped quite a bit. After applying some changes, I can say that my life has become easier and I’m able to focus more on the important things. I still have a long way to go especially in some particular subjects but we’ll get to that later on.

In the next 4 weeks, I’ll share all the changes I made and how each of them impacted my workflow, focus and productivity. Stay tuned and see you next week 👋

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