By Alexa Weber-Morales
The key to productivity? Discover what works for you. That’s why perusing the routines of successful developers can inspire new routines and motivation. Lonneke Dikmans, for example, is an Oracle Developer Champion and head of the Center of Excellence at eProseed, an Oracle Platinum Partner headquartered in Luxembourg. Bitten by the programming bug at age 12, Dikmans now spends hours managing technical teams every day—but she still makes a point of finding flow when she programs.
Choose Lightweight Tools
Dikmans measures her productivity with a to-do list that includes both coding and noncoding activities: “Each day, I pick a number of those items for that week. If I finish all of them, I feel productive.” To help tick those items off her list, Dikmans gravitates toward lightweight solutions, be they editors, test frameworks, or even analog devices.
“I realized recently that I could not concentrate for more than 10 minutes anymore,” Dikmans says. “I have to make a very conscious decision that I’m going to sit here for an hour and not check my phone.” Of course, being easily distracted is an affliction of our time. As a technical manager with multiple concurrent projects and teams in the Netherlands, the UK, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Romania, among others, Dikmans communicates via Slack, Skype, Teams, email, phone, text, and WhatsApp. “I’ve switched all the notifications off, because at one point, my messages were going off on my phone 24 hours a day,” she says. “Currently I am a member in at least five active Slack workspaces—and this is still growing. My biggest distraction is all the communication.”
That’s why it’s also important to get outside, she believes. “I try to have everyone in the office take a proper break for lunch,” she says. “After half an hour outside, you’re much more productive.” Walking meetings also go toward achieving one of her daily exercise goals. The minimalist Nokia smartwatch with analog dials she wears makes it easy to track daily progress toward 10,000 steps.
I’ve learned to accept that sometimes you won’t find it, but sometimes you need a couple of failed attempts to get into that flow.”–Lonneke Dikmans, Oracle Developer Champion
When she isn’t outside, she loves whiteboards. “Whenever I’m explaining something, I want a whiteboard or flip board,” Dikmans says. “But I hate it when those pens run out of ink. When you store it, the tip should be pointing down.”
Seek Flow Every Day
Despite frequent travel for speaking engagements and meetings, Dikmans is a firm believer in flow. Here’s how she finds it: first, she chooses times of day where she won’t be interrupted, and then she puts on headphones and listens to music. “I like Queens of the Stone Age a lot. I have a Diet Coke and completely block out everything else. When I really get into it, I forget about everything and don’t even feel the time pass.”
No matter how you do it, Dikmans believes it’s critical to try to find flow every day. “Sometimes I’ll try to start something for three days and it won’t work, then the fourth day I find my flow. It has to do with interruptions, but also with my own ability to focus,” she says. “I’ve learned to accept that sometimes you won’t find it, but sometimes you need a couple of failed attempts to get into that flow.”
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Photography by Michel Porro/Studio at Getty Images for Oracle