Rubber ducking: A technique used by programmers can help you be more productive


Say what you will about programmers: socially awkward, geeky, but one thing they know well is how to deal with complexity. Some tasks and code that might seem unreadable to most of us, to programmers are logical and simple. To deal with this everyday complexity, coders have created a technique to help them focus and understand their work better, and it can be used by all of us.

Rubber Ducking is the art of speaking to a rubber duck. Yes, Seriously. Whenever writing code, it is necessary to understand what you are doing, and, as weird as it may seem, saying it out loud, or explaining to someone else (in this case, a rubber duck), can help your brain follow a more logical path through the verbalization of your process.

The good news is, even though this technique was created to help software engineers, it does not have to stay in the company basement filled with Batman posters or Star Trek mugs. It can also work for many jobs or tasks, no matter how simple or complex. Need to solve a math problem? Rubber-duck it! Need to draw a new house project: Quack! The rubber duck will never judge you and never question your decisions, but it might look at you in a way that will help you find new answers.

Whenever you say something out loud, you hear it too. This feedback loop keeps your brain connected and focused, and it forces you to understand what you are doing, making it “stick” better for future experiences.

Be aware though, for some techniques such as speed reading, saying things out loud might slow you down. Also, it might annoy your coworkers, so you might want to do silent talking when around others.

Don’t underestimate the power of the rubber ducking technique. The web browser you are using to read this right now, might have been written using it. Get yourself a rubber duck (or anything you can talk to, really) and start talking. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment below about your experience.

Happy Rubber Ducking!


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