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How do I work smart rather than work hard, specially in IT context (web development, PHP basically) as this field absorbs only smart professionals?

Sometimes I personally feel that I need to work in a smarter manner, rather than working laboriously for a task to complete.

What are the things that I need to keep in mind for the smarter work? What changes can I make to improve my productivity?

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This question is too vague to be answerable. IT could be a help desk or programming or repairing computers or ... Techniques for productivity would vary by the nature of the job. Can you edit your post to add more info? – Jeanne Boyarsky Dec 21 '12 at 2:15
I'm not sure it's possible to 'work hard' in IT. If something is repetitive, unless it's data entry, you're usually better off automating it. If you want full techniques, get a (difficult) comp. sci degree. I'm not being sarcastic; most people can program just fine without a degree or with a bad degree, but the whole purpose of doing the degree is to become a productive programmer. – Muz Dec 21 '12 at 3:09
hard worker -> work for yourself, smart worker -> work for someone else. – jontyc Dec 21 '12 at 3:25
which tasks do you feel to be the most exhausting? – Manjusri Jan 9 '13 at 10:53
up vote 9 down vote accepted

A smart worker is one who gets the job done within specific deadline most of the time. Most of the time his boss can rely on him to get the job done (try to build this impression to your boss). According to me here how one can be a smart worker:

  1. Always always do some sort of research upfront before starting a task. Researching is the best way to save time and will save your from big stress later on. Figure out up front what needs to be done from A to Z in a task.

  2. Always, always make sure that you understand the task or requirements correctly before starting working on the task. It will be really annoying to your immediate boss if the end result is not what he told you. That will not leave a good impression on him.

  3. If it is a very complicated task and you are afraid that it might linger on, then a very smart thing to do is ask a senior for some pointers about it before starting it rather than when the time of the task is over. A smart worker will not hesitate to ask whoever he can to get the job done. His end goal is to complete the task, nothing else.

  4. Don't be a perfectionist, just get the job done. Getting the job done in an appropriate manner is what required. Always remember that fine tuning is not required when there is a deadline.

  5. A smart worker will always learn from his mistakes and will never ever repeat those again.

  6. One last and very important thing is that the smart worker will leave his life problems at home or outside the office.

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I think your point 4 is something pointing to me..i think i have to check my attitude towards point 4 as this may be hindering my professional growth and consuming my time towards product delivery..thx upvoted :) – swapnesh Dec 21 '12 at 10:25
i am glad that it was of some help to you. best of luck! – maz3tt Dec 21 '12 at 10:29
Nice answer, I would also add, the smart worker knows his profession in depth and doesn't have to look up the basics repeatedly. I can write queries in minutes that take other devlopers days becasue I know the data model so well. It saves a lot of time to stop looking at knowldge as disposable and start remebering it. – HLGEM Jan 4 '13 at 22:36
Point 6 is true, but not always achievable. – adrianp Apr 11 '13 at 18:49

This is a very broad question with no right answer. But to mention a few other aspects not mentioned in the other answer:

  • You need to be able to work in teams and be familiar with the basics of software development methodologies, such as Scrum and agile development. This is especially so if you aspire to be a team leader.
  • Learn design patterns to know how to apply best practice solutions to common problem types.
  • Work according to the Pareto Principle, 80% of the result is driven by 20% of the work effort. Focus on those 20% of the task.
  • Try not to focus on a single technology, these come and go all the time. Learn a little bit of everything.
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I never expect complete solution..just a hint as my geographic conditions not allow me too much exposure I love to use the stack community..all though sometimes they considered in wrong way ;) – swapnesh Dec 21 '12 at 15:17
+1 for design patterns which everyone should try to master very early on. very very important. – maz3tt Dec 25 '12 at 5:50

"Measure 3 times, cut once."

When I'm assigned to build an application, I don't go and open my development tools.

I grab a pencil and paper and then I think about the application & the problem. I analyse it to it's core; I write down the list of problems I have to solve; I list requirements of the application. In this stage I determine exactly WHAT has to be done.

After that, I think.

I think for a long time: I think about HOW to solve all of these problems. I think of connections between problems and their similarities. I think about the final structure of my application.

Then, after a lot of contemplation, I start writing sketches of the code (still on paper). I sketch the end results, I visualize in my head what I'm going to write and how it's going to be executed.

Only then, after a lot of thinking and analysing, I start writing the actual code.

Basically, my ratio between thinking and coding is 5:1. If I have a task at hand, I'll think about the task 5 times longer then coding it. That's my usual rule of thumb.

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yes it is so..but is it not much time taking,..bcoz in IT sector client is so demanding that they need solution instantly and I think although the process is good but it is time consuming...+1 for the quote – swapnesh Jan 8 '13 at 9:38
@swapnesh, it actually takes less time to do as the poster suggested. – HLGEM Jan 8 '13 at 16:20

The most smart thing for IT developer to do is to reuse the code.

Reuse the code written by others by searching for ready libraries and code samples.

Reuse your own code - each time you'd like to do copy&paste you should consider converting common code to the function.

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Important: You should understand the code samples you reuse. Otherwise, if you make an application from dozen code samples copy/pasted from Google, and something does not work correctly, that can become a problem. (I have seen this problem often; usually in PHP or JavaScript code.) With a library, reading the code would probably be an overkill, but unless it is from a very reliable source, you should test it thoroughly. Because at the end, if the library contains some bugs, it is still your problem. – Viliam Búr Jan 7 '13 at 14:29
@ViliamBúr, I would upvote your comment a million times if I could. – HLGEM Jan 8 '13 at 16:21
@ViliamBúr So do I +1 – swapnesh Jan 9 '13 at 11:03

Plan-Do-Check-Act would be a process I'd highly recommend putting into place in your work so that you review what you are doing and make adjustments on a regular basis to what you do. While the first couple of times you do something there will be a learning curve, the key point is how well do you apply what you learn going forward. Have points in time to look back to see what is working well and what isn't working well. While this is part of some methodologies where you have a Sprint Retrospective this is a personalized version of that.

Something else to consider is that not everyone in IT will be smart. While a lot of people in IT will have some intellectual horsepower, there can be times where someone has a lot more street smarts than book smarts and knows how to play in office politics to get positions without necessarily having technical skills. Be aware of what assumptions you have as often what you assume can be the nasty surprise of, "What? I was supposed to know that?!?" can be something I've heard more than a few times.

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+1 for the last para :) – swapnesh Jan 8 '13 at 17:46

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