Productivity tips

Add Project and Navigation Links

Does your team have a Confluence space, a Hipchat room, or another team hangout? Did you know you could add them to your Jira menus? This can really help boost your productivity by helping you access all your tools. You can use the “Add link” (Server) or “Add item” (Cloud) option in the project’s left sidebar.   If you’re a user, ask your Jira project-level administrator to add links to the side bar for you. Pro Tip:  You can also add a team contact email address using “mailto:” in the “Web Address” field.  Ex: mailto:team@domain.com.  See screenshot. Does your company use other web-based tools?  Ask your application-level administrator to add those links to the “Application Navigator” at:  Admin > Applications > Application Navigator.  Links to these locations are displayed under the menu.  I use this feature for links that apply to all users, like the company intranet and our internal Jira help documentation.

Optimize Profile Settings

There are a number of personal profile settings you can optimize. Click on your user avatar and select “Profile” to access them. You can change the settings under “Preferences”. Click the pencil icon to  complete the following steps:

  • In the “Email type” field, change your email format from “Text” to “HTML”.  Text format shows there’s a change but HTML format shows what changed!
  • Do you need Jira to email you about changes you make?  Probably not!  Change the “My changes” field from “Notify me” to “Do not notify me.”
  • In the “Autowatch” field, select “Enabled” to be automatically added as a watcher on issues you create or comment on. Tip:  Jira administrators can set initial user preferences at:  Admin > System > Default user preferences.  Users can override these settings in their personal user profile.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Another way of increasing productivity in Jira is to lesson the use of the mouse or touchpad. We do this by making use of keyboard shortcuts to make common tasks easier.  There are global, navigation, issue, and board shortcuts. You can access the list from the “Keyboard shortcuts” selection. It’s in the top navigation “Help” menu (Server) or in the bottom left sidebar (Cloud).  You can also reach it by simply typing a question mark (“?”). The following shortcuts are currently available: My favorite shortcuts are “c” to create an issue and “/” to access the quick search. For more tips, read Atlassian’s keyboard shortcuts blog post.

Use Your Bookmarks Bar

Think about the areas in Jira you visit most and place direct links to them on your browser’s bookmarks bar. If you don’t know how to do this, it’s extremely easy. First, visit the page you would like to bookmark. In Chrome, navigate to “Bookmarks” in your browser options at the top right. Then click “Bookmark This Page”. Finally name the bookmark and add it to your bookmark bar. As an end user, the three things I do most often are:  visit my favorite “to do list” dashboard, search for issues, and check the status of issues I created for other teams (ex: an HR request, an IT help desk issue, etc.). Here are those actions as bookmarks:

  • Favorite dashboard:  https://yourjiraurl.com/secure/Dashboard.jspa?selectPageId=12345
  • Issue search (JQL query) page:  https://yourjiraurl.com/issues/?jql=
  • Recently created issues:  https://yourjiraurl/issues/?filter=12345 Sample filter JQL:  reporter = currentUser() order by created desc The two areas I visit most in the Jira Administration Console are the “Issues” settings page and the “User management” area.  Here are those additional bookmarks:
  • Issues settings page:  https://yourjiraurl/secure/admin/ViewIssueTypes.jspa
  • User management page:  https://yourjiraurl/secure/admin/user/UserBrowser.jspa

Create a Browser Search Engine

A good way to increase productivity is to decrease the amount of clicks required to reach a destination. End users and administrators can use the “Search engines” browser feature to quickly jump to Jira projects, issues, and pages.  No navigation or clicks required! In the screenshot example, I’ve set my browser to quickly take me to the “DEMO” Jira project when I type:  “p” tab “DEMO” in the address bar.  Watch the 20 second example.  (No sound.) Adding this browser functionality is easy. In Chrome, add a custom search engine by clicking  > Settings > Manage search engines. Then simply “ADD” a new search engine. If you’re using Firefox, click    > Options > Search. I’ve also setup “i” to take me to an issue and other shortcuts to take me to other admin pages. You can implement this same browser search trick with other applications and websites that have predictable search URL patterns.  Ex: Confluence, Dictionary.com, Twitter, etc.

Use Filter Subscriptions as Reminders

Are you struggling to get a consistent overview of your short term to-do list? You can use a filter subscription to notify you with a shortlist of tasks to complete. It’s also pretty easy to set this up. I’ll show you. First you need to create a Jira issue for the future, assign it to yourself, and set a “Due Date.” Then, you can create a filter to find all issues due in the next X days.  The following is an example of “2 days or overdue” using the “Basic” search mode Or you can use JQL in “Advanced” search mode. An example:  assignee = currentUser() and due > now() and due < 2d and status != Closed. After that you can “Save as” a new filter. Finally, create a filter subscription to send an email when a due date is approaching.  This works particularly well for recurring tasks, quarterly Jira maintenance items, or for making users inactive on their last employment day. You can create a subscription from the details page of any saved filter. Once there, you can select the criteria for Jira notifications. For example, on weekdays and once per day. Voila, you’ve subscribed! Now you should receive notifications directly to your inbox.

Use the Command Line

One of the best habits for every programmer is to use the CLI (Command Line Interface) instead of GUI (Graphical User Interface), this will greatly speed up the development process and at the end, good knowledge of the CLI commands is an important programming skill that will greatly improve your market value when you will be looking for a new programming related job and will make your work-flow look much more confident and professional.

Schedule Your Tasks in Advance

Scheduling your tasks in advance can greatly improve your productivity. You can create a to-do list for your tasks using to-do apps like Notes - Notepad and Memo App. When using task scheduling apps, too much complexity can even lead to a loss of productivity. So the app should be simple enough and still useful like the app linked above, it is easy to get lost in some big apps in doing very simple things.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Today automating repetitive tasks is a must as a developer or programmer. In the development phase, this can be a lot of things like learning common keyboard shortcuts in your code editor or IDE or refactoring the name of a variable or function in more than one place (which are connected with the last tip about the best code editor). Knocking these things from your work-flow can save you lots of energy and time, and make you much better on focusing on other more important things.

Find The Best Code Editor

Programmer productivity starts with a good code editor. There are great Code Editors or IDE's out there, and it is not easy to tell which one is the best, and also it depends on your needs. To find the best code editor for you, it is best to try different code editors to see which one fits you the best. When searching for the best code editor there are few things to remember:

  • Programming languages that you are using. The code editor should have syntax highlighting for the languages you are using. Some popular code editors also offer syntax highlighters for frameworks too (Sometimes if syntax highlighting is not available you may download a plugin).
  • If you work with technologies like Git (which you should!) you might need built-in Git functionalities for committing your code directly to GitHub, etc.
  • Code Editor with adequate themes and plugins.
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