🍱 15 Japanese Techniques for Developers to Boost Your Productivity!

Tips and methods for increasing your productivity the Japanese way.

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6 min read

🍱 15 Japanese Techniques for Developers to Boost Your Productivity!

As developers, we often find ourselves juggling tight deadlines, complex codebases, and the constant pressure to deliver high-quality software 🀯.

Even if you’re still learning how to code, the challenges of maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout are still very real.

Therefore, it's easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of a healthy work-life balance βš–οΈ.

However, there's a whole bunch of wisdom to be found in Japanese productivity philosophies that can help us regain control and work more effectively.

Coming up, we'll explore 15 Japanese productivity techniques that can help you boost your effectiveness, reduce stress, and find joy in the art of coding.

Wherever you are in your programming journey, these methods offer a unique opportunity to rethink your approach to productivity and unlock your full potential.

Let’s get started! ⛩️

1 - Kaizen

Continuous Improvement

Kaizen is all about the philosophy of continuous improvement.

It encourages us to constantly refine and enhance our processes, no matter how small the tweaks may seem.

For developers, Kaizen can mean iteratively improving our codebase, consistently enhancing our software, and cultivating a culture of daily learning within our teams.

Some practical examples include refactoring old code for better performance and regularly reviewing our coding standards and project guidelines to identify areas for improvement.

2 - Ikigai

Purpose

Have you ever felt like your work lacks a deeper sense of purpose? Ikigai, a Japanese concept, focuses on finding one's life purpose or "reason for being."

For developers, this could translate into discovering a fulfilling niche or specialisation that brings satisfaction while aligning with our team's or company's goals.

Practical ways to embrace Ikigai include aligning personal learning goals with project tasks and choosing specialisations that match our passion and the project's needs.

3 - Pomodoro Technique

Time Management

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple yet effective time management strategy.

It involves working in focused 25-minute intervals, known as "Pomodoros," followed by short breaks.

For developers, this technique can help us maintain focused coding sessions while avoiding burnout.

Practical applications include time-boxing specific programming tasks and using the breaks for brief mental resets, such as stretching or brainstorming.

4 - Kanban

Visual Workflow Management

Kanban boards are a visual way to manage workflows, and their philosophy emphasises transparency and efficiency.

As developers, we can use Kanban boards to visualise our project workflows, enabling better prioritisation and reducing bottlenecks.

Practical examples include using Kanban boards to track development tasks and identify blockers, allowing us to prioritise our work more efficiently.

5 - Mikado Method

Systematic Refactoring

The Mikado Method provides a systematic approach to refactoring large, complex codebases. It emphasises careful planning and a methodical process to avoid disrupting project goals.

For developers, this technique offers a way to tackle extensive refactoring tasks without introducing regressions or breaking functionality.

Practical examples include mapping out dependency trees before refactoring and using a rollback mechanism to quickly revert changes if issues arise.

6 - The 5S principles

Workplace Organisation

The 5S principles – Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardise (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke) – are all about creating and maintaining an organised workspace.

For developers, this could mean keeping our development environments well-organised and ensuring standardised practices for coding.

Practical examples include cleaning up old and unused software dependencies, reducing technical debt, as well as creating standardised project templates or code style guidelines.

7 - Wabi Sabi

Embracing Imperfection

Wabi Sabi is the philosophy of appreciating imperfection and finding beauty in simplicity.

In the context of software development, this translates to accepting imperfections in code to maintain a pragmatic approach and deliver value quickly.

Practical examples include adopting Minimum Viable Product (MVP) principles and prioritising functionality and user value over perfectionism.

8 - Shoshin

Beginner's Mind

Shoshin embodies the mindset of approaching work with openness and a lack of preconceptions.

For developers, this means maintaining curiosity, embracing experimentation, and approaching every coding task with fresh eyes.

Practical ways to practise Shoshin include encouraging cross-training to learn new skills and finding a mentor or trying reverse mentoring, where experienced developers learn from newcomers' perspectives.

9 - Nemawashi

Consensus Building

Nemawashi is all about building consensus before implementing decisions.

In a development context, this technique encourages involving stakeholders early in the decision-making process to minimise resistance during changes.

Practical applications include having early team discussions on new architectural changes and providing regular updates to project stakeholders about the latest progress, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

10 - Jidoka

Automation with Human Oversight

Jidoka is the concept of automating processes while maintaining human oversight and validation.

For developers, this means incorporating automated testing into our workflows while ensuring that manual code reviews remain a critical part of the process.

Practical examples include implementing continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines and writing unit and integration tests alongside manual code reviews.

11 - Muda, Mura, and Muri

Lean Waste Reduction

The three Ms - Muda (waste), Mura (unevenness), and Muri (overburden) - form the backbone of lean principles aimed at reducing waste.

For developers, this translates into optimising our workflows to eliminate wasteful processes, balance workloads, and prevent burnout.

Practical examples include streamlining redundant processes and addressing uneven workloads through collaborative efforts within the team.

12 - Shinrin-Yoku

Forest Bathing

Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing, is the practice of immersing oneself in nature to rejuvenate the mind and body.

For developers who spend countless hours staring at screens, this technique encourages stepping away to refresh the mind.

Practical applications include taking regular nature walks to clear mental fatigue and hosting offsite team-building activities in natural settings.

13 - Ho-Ren-So

Reporting and Communication

Ho-Ren-So is a three-part communication method consisting of Hokoku (reporting), Renraku (informing), and Sodan (consulting).

In a development context, this technique can help improve communication flow within teams, avoiding misunderstandings and aligning project goals.

Practical examples include daily stand-ups to share progress and regularly updating stakeholders through concise status reports.

14 - Mottainai

Avoiding Wastefulness

Mottainai embodies the practice of avoiding waste and making the most of available resources.

For developers, this could mean maximising code reuse and optimising resource utilisation.

Practical examples include reusing modular components across projects and refactoring existing code instead of building from scratch whenever possible.

15 - Hara Hachi Bu

80% Rule

Hara Hachi Bu is the concept of eating until one is 80% full, promoting moderation and balance.

Applying this philosophy to software development encourages setting realistic goals to prevent burnout and allow for sustainable productivity.

Practical examples include creating achievable daily coding objectives and encouraging balanced workloads with buffer time for quality assurance.

Wrapping up…

By adopting philosophies like Kaizen, Kanban, and the Pomodoro Technique, you can optimise your workflows, encourage continuous improvement, and maintain better focus 🧘.

And it's not just about processes - concepts like Ikigai, Wabi Sabi, and Shinrin-Yoku remind you to find purpose, embrace imperfection, and look after your well-being.

The best part is that these Japanese methods can be tweaked to suit you or your team, so can achieve new levels of effectiveness and rediscover the joy of coding 😍.

By giving these Japanese techniques a go and putting your own spin on them, you'll have some powerful new tools in your coding toolkit.

They'll help you tackle any challenges that come your way with fresh energy and creativity, setting you up for long-term productivity and job satisfaction.

Here’s to being more productive!

From your fellow ever-growing dev,

Cherlock Code


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