It’s an interesting article and most of the tips given are useful, but I disagree with the byline. Becoming REALLY proficient with your editor, learning how to use testing effectively, and becoming intimiately familiar with your platform of choice, creating shortcuts that let you shave precious seconds over and over again DO make you more productive. They’re not the whole story for sure, but that’s not what the byline says.
Suggest: “Technical skills alone will not make you more productive.”
Yeah the title is kind of dumb, but I agree with “don’t lose the forest for the trees”. You can be super “productive” on a task that is not getting you (or your employer) anywhere.
Updated the original; don’t think I can edit this submission’s title at this point.
The article was good but just needed better title. You fixed it. You’ve done enough. :)
There’s a point of diminishing returns. The problem is that you don’t know where it is until you’ve passed it.
Skills build on each other, and synergize, and spark thoughts. You don’t know what a new skill is really good for until you have it, because you don’t know how you’ll use it, how it will interact with other skills you have, and what new ideas for improving your environment and/or end result will come from knowing that you can do these things.
All of this is true for complex tools, like programming languages (including scripting languages, a distinction I’ve never found very useful) and complex editors and IDEs.
I’d be interested to know if high technical skills could actually make you much less productive. Every time one learns something new, the breadth of available techniques to solve a problem widens a bit. I sometimes feel managing focus gets more difficult as time goes on. So it feels to me that it’s not just diminishing returns, but increasingly negative returns.
Does anyone else feel this, and if so, have you found ways to manage it?
Except all these non-technical “skills” aren’t really skills at all. You cant really master “finding an employer aligned with your goals”.
All these tips are isomorphic to “don’t make mistakes”. Or “don’t misdiagnose the world”. Or perhaps most usefully, “learn the domain of your problem”.
They’re career/life skills, and they have a huge impact. Conversely, if you are bad at any one of them, they will hurt productivity far more than technical skills can bring it back. For example: ignoring the need to find a mostly-compatible employer can dampen your productivity because work will drain you faster than it would otherwise. Another example: if you’re someone who loves going down rabbit holes then you need to watch yourself to make sure you don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal when evaluating new tech for a project.
In the same vein, I’ve always regarded software architecture as a bit of a meta-skill that significantly helps/hurts overall productivity even if it isn’t always consciously invoked or requested from an institution.
I agree with everything you said. I just don’t think there’s anything to learn here, except to watch yourself based on accumulated scar tissue. Everybody’s scar tissue is different, based on their inherent biases and unique life experiences. Calling this a skill to be learned under-estimates the difficulty of the task, I think. It’s more like searching for a solution in an extremely large state space. You can’t even ignore places/ideas you tried before, because some confounding variable you never considered may make them competitive again.