Making good progress without the burnout
The industry we work in makes us think that we have to be on the "bleeding-edge" of tech. Always knowing what's new, what gets updated, what's the next thing people are talking about.
Add to that the fact that many want to go out and create the next big thing or spot it before it becomes big enough. Being part of that "in people" before it becomes mainstream can give you that 'cool' factor.
Riding that wave before others can, requires you to put extra attention to the current trends. Be able to spot what can really take off and have a lasting effect or what will just be a fad.
And one thing leading to the other, we not only do the work that we have to but do other things to keep us updated.
Like for instance:
- Reading tech articles.
- Watching tutorials about doing X thing in Y language.
- Going through courses.
- Reading email newsletters and digests.
- Browsing social media groups or lists.
- Taking part in forums or online communities to see what's hot and new.
Among other things.
That is without talking about the others that actually create this type of content. They have the added pressure of creating quality content that doesn't get lost among the noise of all the other things out there.
Doing all those things won't happen by accident so what do we do? We take more time out to try to do these things and squeeze more activities in the time we have.
But then, we realize we need more time for all these. So we now look for the latest productivity "tricks", "hacks", and "tools" to help us be more productive and have more time to do more.
And then Silicon Valley startup culture shows up. Now we not only work on our job but we have to have side projects and then hustle to grow them and make them profitable.
In other cases is contributing more to open-source projects to get your name "out there". That's while spending an increasing amount of time over the week and all the weekend.
And on and on this goes. No wonder why stress, overwhelm, and burnout have been so common over the last few years.
There's the notion that you need to move faster and do more stuff because others are already on it and you'll get behind if you don't.
But by frantically moving forward and trying to do a bunch of stuff at the same time, guess what happens?
You're actually doing less work with lower quality. Plus, you can get all your progress stalled when you reach burnout.
What if that preconceived notion of progress is wrong and we have it all backward?
Yeah. Instead of trying to juggle a bunch of stuff concurrently, let's go back to the basics. Starting from the essentials and moving from there.
It's better to start slowly and keep moving consistently on a sustainable path than to move super fast, haphazardly on an unstainable one.
On that notion of slow and continuous improvement, I remember reading an article on James Clear's site a few years ago. It was about a cycling team (the British one) that hadn't won any awards in several years.
A new coach came that kept training the team in what they were already good at but also focused on an important thing.
Making tiny improvements in every area conceivable about the sport and other neglected ones.
The team went from having a lackluster performance on every tournament for a long time to, in a few years, dominate the sport.
Winning more than half of the gold medals available in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In the following years, they went on to set several Olympic and World Records.
That story was on his blog when he hadn't written his book "Atomic Habits". His site has now changed much more and I cannot find that article again.
But... if you want to know all those details, it's there in the first chapter. (And in case you haven't read the book, I highly recommend doing so.)
Now the question in our minds would be, (aside from how did they do that?) How can we use that example to improve much more the work we do, our careers, and even our lives?
How can we get much better work done and keep pushing our career forward? All without having to put in so many extra hours hovering closely to the overworked and overwhelmed status?
Tackling this subject is much better when you start with baby steps. Start with what's most important for you and your current situation.
Start with a good base from where to move forward. Most of the work shouldn't be about knowing what cool new feature in your text editor appeared. Nor about knowing the latest tech tools to use for having more productivity.
The bulk of the work is on taking inventory of everything that you have and don't really need. Discarding all the extra stuff that is taking extra space and distracting you instead of helping.
Start with a lean and simple base and only add new things that will be really necessary. What's going to help reduce the time that it takes to do what you need to do.
Make these improvements not only in what you use, your tools, and your workflow. Also, start looking for improvements in other different and seemingly unrelated areas. The ones that combined will help improve your overall performance.
I'll give you some ideas on things you can start doing to progressively improve your technical and coding-related efforts.
Although in the interest of time and attention, I'll be saving those for a next article where we can go into a little more detail than now.
Until then, thanks for reading so far and I'll see you in the next one.