Journeyman - Part 3: Offline Software Development and Productivity

As I'm preparing my bike trip, I'm expecting my friends and family to ask me the following question: how can someone achieve anything in these conditions?

Productivity is a field I've been actively studying for close to seven years now. I've come to the realization that all attempts to be productive imply removing distractions to focus on what's essential. It's the very definition of productivity according to Wikipedia: "labour productivity is equal to the ratio between a measure of output volume and a measure of input use".

It might seem obvious, but you are probably more productive than the average knowledge worker if you keep adding value for four hours a day without interruption and call it a day. Add an hour for planning, two hours spent in meetings, lunch, and occasional chit-chats, another hour browsing social media, and you obtain a typical workday.

In other words, 80% of your efforts directed toward being more productive should be spent cutting down distractions and managing to do things on the first try.

As a developer, it means focusing on the task at hand and designing before coding. None require an Internet connection, three monitors, and a fancy whiteboard.

80% of your Google search results can be found in offline documentations. Git commits can be taken offline too, you just need to push the changes once a day. Designing workflows and programming don't require being online either.

In fact, the more you take things offline and rely on trustworthy sources of truth (aka, read the f* manual), the more productive you can be. There are very few problems you can't solve by just tinkering with them on paper or reading detailed technical specifications.

If you need to look for packages and libraries to solve an issue, leave the task for later and focus on what can be done now. Same for testing: test what you can now, focus on making things work on the first try, and leave the rest for later.

As a writer, you absolutely don't need anything more than a pen and a piece of paper to get some words out. You only need connectivity when it's time to publish.

From a theoretical aspect, doing my job doesn't need me to spend more than an hour or two online.

In practice, even on the road, it's not that hard to find a coffee shop with a stable Wi-Fi in Europe, spend two hours there in the morning with a cup of coffee, and move on to another one to take a break and keep working.

The time you actually spend biking can be used for thinking or listening to audiobooks. Idle time is an opportunity to read or write.

I'd argue that being by myself, close to nature, exercising daily, and with only the road to care about, will give me the perspective to be even more productive than I currently am. But I don't want to get ahead of myself and will wait to gather concrete data to prove my claims.