What Distracts Developers

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Let's face it, the world today is full of distractions. When it comes to trying to crank through you to-do list at work, there are a variety of things that can get in the way ranging from a ringing phone to email to the lure of social media. Out of curiosity, we asked our developer community what the main activity was that caused them to be unproductive.

I was a bit surprised by the results.

It is worth noting that this survey was asked on pages within three of our discussion forums. As such, I expected the numbers to skew toward people saying the forums were the main activity causing a distraction. With just 5.0% of the results, forums actually were second from the bottom with the choices we gave. Only email was lower with 4.6%.

On the other end of the scale, the activity that caused people to be the most unproductive was "unplanned work" with 24.9% of the votes. This actually surprised me, as I'd consider unplanned work to still result in productivity. What was less surprising was social media following with 22.7%.

Developer Distractions

Another surprise in this data is the number of people who stated that coding (13.4%) was the activity that caused them to be unproductive. With this survey being posted on developer sites, you'd expect that most of the respondent's production would be coding!

The Results:

Answer Choices Responses
Unplanned work 24.94%
Social media 22.68%
Chatty coworkers 16.67%
Coding 13.41%
Meetings 12.66%
Forums 5.01%
Reading/Writing eMails 4.64%

In this survey, we opened up comments as well. While I doubt my mother was a valid reason, there were a few others reasons mentioned that are worth sharing. The comments included a variety of response referencing one question polls and site surveys being a distraction. Also mentioned were:

  • ADHD
  • Things not working
  • Spam
  • Cold calls and other phone calls
  • Being sleepy, lack of interest
  • Gaming
  • The darkly dreaming madness of the Elder Gods

One thing is sure from this survey; there are a lot of things that can distract developers from getting their job done. With an ever increasing battle for our attention, it is hard to stay on point and get things done. When it came to being productive and this survey, only one person questioned being unproductive!

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