Category: Research (page 2 of 3)

Multitasking is Bad for your Productivity and could be Damaging your Brain

Are you a multi-tasker? Maybe it’s time to reconsider your work habits.

I personally know many who are proud to be able towork on several tasks at the same time, as they “get more stuff done than others”. However, research has found out that multi-tasking is actually less productive than doing just one thing at a time. Here is why:

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Kevin Kelly: Humans are good at inefficiency, Productivity is for Robots

I’ve just watched an incredibly interesting TED Talk by Kevin Kelly, who explains why technological progress is inevitable and why robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will not kill all our jobs.

Much like our strive to make things faster, easier and more convenient couldn’t prevent the phone or internet to be ‘invented’, broad use of AI systems are inevitable. That’s why Kelly suggests us to “embrace AI to steer it”.

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Be productive like a boss with ambient background noise

Are you working in an open-space office with a lot of background noise? Can you just focus better if you hear your background mumble, like in a coffee shop? Or are you more relaxed when you hear birds sing or the sound of water?

Then, Noisli is for you! Noisli is a free and very simple service that lets you enable/disable different sounds to listen in the background. You can choose from birds, forest, wind, sea, fire, train waggons, coffee shop, and so on.

I’ve been using Noisli for the past 1-2 years and I’ve found it extremely helpful in times where I have a hard time to focus on my task. Also I cannot listen to music for a whole day when I am in the office, but I can listen to birds much longer.

I recommend everyone to try it out 🙂

How Stress is affecting your Decision-Making

The World Economic interviewed Guideon Nave, researcher at Warthon, on the impact of stress on how fast and how good we make decisions.

Find the transcript on the WEF website and learn why you should not go to the supermarket when you are stressed and what a baseball bat math quiz helps to analyze reactions of stress.

Office Delve Analytics to learn how to manage your time effectively

Where does my time go? How much time do I ‘waste’ with emails or ineffective meetings?

Delve Analytics is an interesting free feature for Office 365 users that helps you analyze how much time you spend in meetings, with emails and with whom you communicate how often. This helps you gain insights on how well your activities align with your top priorities and helps you to self-monitor your behavior at work.

More information can be found in this infographic.

Creative hobbies can boost productivity

An interesting read on TheNextWeb summarizes recent research which has shown that actively pursuing hobbies in the spare time is not only fun and helps with work-life balance, but can also boost productivity and the IQ. These include playing an instrument, playing strategy games and exercise regularly.

Read more on TheNextWeb.com.

Exploratory Study on Developer’s Personal Retrospections of their Work in Vancouver

I just arrived back home in Switzerland after a two week trip to Vancouver, Canada. Together with a work colleague from our s.e.a.l. research group, we conducted two studies (one each) on analyzing and improving developer’s effectiveness. Both studies were exploratory studies where we wanted to follow our ideas and explore their applicability and if developers would be willing to use our prototypes over two weeks or more. This is how the two studies looked:

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Criteria for Selecting a Site for Building a Sustainable Data Center

In the fall semester 2014 I participated in a course at UZH where we learnt more about sustainability in the information technology environment. Part of the course was to write a short fact sheet discussing a selected topic.

My fact sheet consisted of a short summary of criteria one needs to take into consideration when selecting a suitable site for building a sustainable cloud data center. Click here if you want to have a very short and concise summary of the topic.

Survey: The Role of Music During Your Software Engineering Work

In some domains, studies have shown that music can improve the productivity of workers for some tasks. We invite you to participate in our survey about the role music plays during your software engineering work. Your answers will help us to find out more on how to improve developer productivity.

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A pre-print of “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” for FSE’14 is available! [Paper]

We just published a pre-print of our paper “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” for FSE’14, the 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE 2014). The paper was written by Thomas Fritz, Gail C. Murphy, Thomas Zimmermann and me.

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Personal Analytics – Two Studies on Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity [Thesis]

I am happy to announce, that I just finished and submitted my master thesis. In the past five months, I’ve intensively worked on this project, got amazing opportunities (e.g., research trip to Vancouver and Redmond), could talk to numerous people about my work, and learnt a ton. Thanks to everyone for their help!

Abstract

The better the software development community becomes at creating software, the more software the world seems to demand. One way to address the gap between software demand and supply is to try to increase the supply, by optimizing the productivity of software developers. Although there is a large body of research about measuring and investigating productivity from an organizational point of view, there is a paucity of research about how software developers, those at the front-line of software construction, think about, assess, and try to improve their productivity. To investigate software developers’ perceptions of software development productivity, we conducted two studies: a survey with 379 professional software developers to help elicit themes and an observational study with 11 professional software developers to investigate emergent themes in more detail. In the survey we found that software developers perceive their days as productive when they complete many or big tasks, without significant interruptions or context switches. Yet, the observational data we collected shows our participants performed significant task and activity switching, while still feeling productive.

We analyze such apparent contradictions in our findings and use the analysis to propose ways to better support software developers in a retrospection and improvement of their productivity through the development of new tools and the sharing of best practices. Based on the finding that there might not be a single and/or simple measurement for a software developer’s productivity, we discuss a new idea to provide a software developer with a meaningful retrospective analysis of his workday and workweek and its possible impact on a developer’s productivity.

Download

You may download the thesis here. Here you find the post relating to our paper on Thomas Zimmermann’s website. Thank you!

My first paper “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” has been accepted for FSE 14 [Paper]

I am very excited to announce that my very first paper “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” has been accepted for 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE 2014), which will be held in Hong Kong, China. The paper was co-written with Thomas Fritz, Gail C. Murphy and Thomas Zimmermann. It was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot.

Abstract

The better the software development community becomes at creating software, the more software the world seems to demand. Although there is a large body of research about measuring and investigating productivity from an organizational point of view, there is a paucity of research about how software developers, those at the front-line of software construction, think about, assess and try to improve their productivity. To investigate software developers’ perceptions of software development productivity, we conducted two studies: a survey with 379 professional software developers to help elicit themes and an observational study with 11 professional software developers to investigate emergent themes in more detail. In both studies, we found that developers perceive their days as productive when they complete many or big tasks without significant interruptions or context switches. Yet, the observational data we collected shows our participants performed significant task and activity switching while still feeling productive. We analyze such apparent contradictions in our findings and use the analysis to propose ways to better support developers in a retrospection and improvement of their productivity through the development of new tools and a sharing of best practices.

Download

You may find the final version here. You can find the survey and interview questions and the visualization of the observational data here. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Information Fragments – SEAL & Adesso Innovation Snack

Innovation Snacks are technology talks about research and development activities, technologies, and tools. It is a joint event series of s.e.a.l. and adesso, in which researchers and practitioners meet for breakfast and technical talks about the current state and future of software engineering. Today, my colleagues (Florian Stucki & Philipp Nützi) and I had the chance to present our information fragments tool, a prototype we developed in the past semester (HS13). The idea of the tool is that it aggregates data from various project data sources (from code, to work items, to people information) and visualizes the combination of the data to answer different stakeholders’ (developers, testers, managers, customers) questions in an intuitive web interface by visualizing the data in various ways. The tool can easily be extended with any other repository (that offers its data via web service), such as requirements, use cases, etc. For more information, please refer to the files here.

Productivity: Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity [Paper]

WP_20140131_0351

We just submitted my first paper to the FSE 14 conference. For the past couple of weeks, my supervisor Prof. Thomas Fritz (University of Zurich), Prof. Gail Murphy (University of British Columbia) and Dr. Thomas Zimmermann (Microsoft Research) intensively worked on our work about how developers perceive their productivity. As the paper now has to be reviewed first, I can’t upload it now. This is our abstract:

 

The better the software development community becomes at creating software, the more software the world seems to demand. Although there is a large body of research about measuring and investigating productivity from an organizational point of view, there is a paucity of research about how software developers, those at the front-line of software construction, think about, assess and try to improve their productivity. To investigate software developers’ perceptions of software development productivity, we conducted two studies: a survey with 379 professional software developers to help elicit themes and an observational study with 11 professional software developers to investigate emergent themes in more detail. In both studies, we found that developers perceive their days as productive when they complete many or big tasks without significant interruptions or context switches. Yet, the observational data we collected shows our participants performed significant task and activity switching while still feeling productive. We analyze such apparent contradictions in our findings and use the analysis to propose ways to better support developers in a retrospection and improvement of their productivity through the development of new tools and a sharing of best practices.

Observation Study in Vancouver/Seattle

I am currently in Vancouver (CA) and will soon leave for Seattle (US), where I got the big chance to run the context switches study for my master thesis.


In this study, we want to investigate the context switches and interruptions that developers experience in their workday and their impact on productivity. Therefore, we are observing developers in their workday by shadowing them and writing down the activities they work on and the switches/interruptions they encounter and perform in their work. After the observation session, we are conducting short interviews with the developers on these observations and the correlation between context switches and productivity, e.g., whether they think that certain switches/interruptions are particularly disruptive to their productivity, if they actively try to prevent interruptions and whether and when handling emails and meetings are decreasing productivity.


With the results of this study we hope to gain insights into the correlation between a developer’s activities, context switches and the felt productivity. Furthermore, we hope to be able to determine heuristics in how to automatically identify context switches and their impact on productivity.


The idea for this study stems from the results of a survey that we ran with approximately 350 software developers and that shows that many developers consider themselves more productive when they have few switches that interrupt their focus on a task.