From our guest author, Luke Taylor.

“Sometimes life is a little harder than it needs to be. Let’s see if we can make it easier.” – Jason Long

Every now and again I take time to focus on my workflow, processes and general up-skilling. I like to see what’s out there, what tools are available, and if something can help make my life easier. Sometimes it’s the simplest of changes that make our processes go further.

Having a good workflow and process, helps make everyday tasks simpler. Obviously, having a good understanding of the tasks at hand helps, but a good understanding of what’s lacking is also key. It’s the act of being smart enough to do the job, but wise enough to see the hidden problems.

Are You Solution Searching?

If you made a couple of changes to the way you work, could you fix a bug or solve a problem in half the time? Theses types of solutions are what I search for and ought to be what we strive towards.

Most of us are guilty of repeating the same simple tasks over and over again. We repeat because that’s how we’ve always done it, and we don’t consider how we could really improve the situation. We get ourselves in a rut, and potentially make excuses as to why we can’t or shouldn’t waste the time and effort.

This almost certainly applies to all walks of life. From experience, I know that taking the time and making the effort for self improvement reaps many rewards.

Starting A New Journey

I recently started a new job, and immediately my stack of responsibility grew. It was daunting to see the amount of technologies and tools I was expected to learn in order to survive each day. Coming from my previous job, I was severely unprepared. Luckily, we’re usually given time to settle in at a new company so I took this time and put it to good use. With my head down, I got up to speed quickly on all the shiny new toys around me.

My daily routines included numerous technical activities such as development branches, functional tests, unit tests and everything in between. I’m relatively new to the industry, but by my own estimations, it’s easy to say that I’ve improved significantly as a developer. I have up skilled more in the last two months than I had in the previous two years combined.

For me, it’s clear to see the benefits I’ve received by utilizing time to learn, improve and develop. I wasn’t just improving my skills but I was inheriting work flows, development patterns, and learning new processes. All of these come together to help make the job I do more efficient. It helps me integrate better into the team, whilst also helping projects progress swiftly in the right direction.

Stories Of Improvement

Hopefully my last personal example inspired you to spend more time for improvement. In case it didn’t here are two more examples to help reinforce my push for becoming ongoing learners.

Take something as simple as Grunt, the Javascript task runner. The explanation of what Grunt is, validates my point entirely. “In one word: automation. The less work you have to do when performing repetitive tasks…the easier your job becomes.”

I find Grunt is quick and simple to use. It requires a small amount of time and effort to set up, but once we’ve done so, it’s smooth sailing. Say goodbye to those silly monotonous tasks you were repeating each day such as linting your code or having to worry about making it all look pretty.

Say goodbye to those silly monotonous tasks you were repeating each day such as linting your code or having to worry about making it all look pretty.

I historically used grunt for doing simple things like watching my code for changes and automating pre-processing. A simple watch task and call to a LESS compiler, and poof! One less task I’m required to do. It’s these sorts of changes that can help aide efficiency.

I now have a standardized folder structure for all my projects which allows me to have a bunch of small scripts that I can quickly call. I can change things like global variables to switch between environments or run a batch of unit tests across my code base. For those that use task runners like Grunt or Gulp, I’m sure you will agree at just how useful they become, and how well they integrate into workflows.

Consider Your Next Steps

For those not using one, consider investing the small amount of time it takes to leverage this type of tool. Going forward, let’s focus on making what we do easier and spend the time to improve simple task worth reworking. The potential gained in investing time towards improvement benefits us in the long run. It also gets us mulling ideas about best solutions and leads to innovation.

luke-taylorLuke Taylor is a developer in Derby , UK. Currently, he holds the position as Mobile Application Developer at First-Utility.

Learn more about Luke by visiting his website and connecting with him on his twitter profile.