Who’s the most productive of us all?

“Mirror, mirror on the wall;
Who’s the most productive of us all?”

Last week I gave a talk at Developer Week on productivity for developers. Here’s our presentation.

Developer Productivity Awards from Priyanka Sharma

TLDR on the data

We segmented logged time by OS, editor, and language. The winners had the highest logged time per user from a 20k sample.

Most Productive OS: Mac — Our users working on macs log the most hours on average per day.

Most Productive Editor: Xcode — WakaTime users working in Xcode log the most hours on average per day than any other text editor.

Most Productive Language: Objective-C — Our users write more hours of Objective-C code on average per day than other languages.

The juicy discussion

We had some interesting discussions around people’s perception of measuring time spent coding and the definitions of productivity. I found myself debunking a lot of myths so I will talk about them here for popular consumption :-)

Measuring time spent coding is a useless stat

The argument Time spent coding is not a very useful stat because sometimes I might put in more hours but be interrupted often. On the other hand, sometimes I can crank out a lot in a shorter period of time because it’s quality work time with less distractions.

The flaw This is a classic case of confusing measuring time spent coding with time spent at work. When you measure the time you actually code, moments of distraction such as meetings, water cooler chit chat (does that even happen anywhere any more or is it a relic of the nineties sitcoms? :-)), etc. are not counted. Details of your day when there are interruptions will look something like this:

powered by WakaTime

I was at my desk from 10 AM to 10 PM with a 2 hour chunk of non coding work. But as you can see, I programmed very little.

On another occasion however, I was also at my desk from 10 AM to 10 PM but I released a full feature because I coded in an uninterrupted time block and did other founder stuff the rest of the time. It was a much more productive day.

powered by WakaTime

Better devs are more productive

The argument

Crappy devs take more time to do the same task. Measuring time and rewarding for it is a problematic concept.

The flaw

Productivity is not about other people! Alan is a much better dev than me. He has years of experience. If I start comparing myself to him, I’ll never open Sublime Text again.

Analytics like WakaTime are for developers, not against them. A mindset that thinks of productivity as a comparative metric is not useful. I track to be better. I won’t be better without looking inward. And I can’t look inward without measuring my work ethic.

Originally published at wakatime.com on February 17, 2015.

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