Pen and paper! Also: regular schedules including breaks.
I don't really use any software tools to help me with productivity beyond just normal bog-standard development tools (Vim, I don't use an IDE, I don't use a debugger, a browser, etc.)
I write a lot of human language before I write computer language. 🙃 I plan things out to a pretty detailed degree. For example before starting Terraform, I think Armon and I collectively wrote about 60 to 80 pages of Google Docs thinking through how it'd work before we wrote ANY code.
After having that detail, I think of a component I want to build, and then usually break that component down to tasks that are achievable in less than an hour. Then, I focus in on that task and while I'm working on a task I do nothing else. I don't use any tools for this although a lot exist, I just focus in. When that task is done, I feel a sense of achievement, happiness, and usually take a break.
I think this "bite-size" task is really important. If you look at any problem holistically, its just too large. If you work on something too long without seeing results, its easier to get demotivated. I recognized this early on in myself, so in high school I started breaking things down into achievable goals first. And that has been key!
Breaks are really important, and I think its why I like working remotely so much. I actually take quite frequent breaks: stopping for 10 or 15 minutes every hour or so. To some bosses that may seem wasteful, but I think my past can show I am productive, and its mentally helpful. I like to sit outside and have a coffee, or just sit.
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