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Are you engaged with what you're doing right now?

February 25, 2020

"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold."
— Leo Tolstoy

It's been a busy week. Getting the context for the new feature I'm architecting at Buffer, launching a few more features at Otter, as well as doing some more reactive customer support for it, requires a ton of energy.

Monday to Wednesday, I was deep into it all: eyes on the goal, reading all the documents, meeting different teams, coding some stuff, writing this newsletter... Come Thursday morning, I was pretty exhausted mentally. So I decided to take a slower morning and give space for me to digest all the thoughts and information going through my head. I also decided to dedicate some time to do things I enjoy, like drafting some mockups for a product idea I have (stay tuned for that!).

By lunchtime that day, I was back in full swing again: it didn't feel forced; I was feeling fresh. Did I work too much during the first half of the week? What's too much? Are we meant to put the same amount of work every day?

I believe that for jobs like ours, where creativity, timing, and serendipity play such an important role, we need to flow more with it all. That's why I have developed a rule of thumb through years of trying different approaches and seeing what works for me and what doesn't.

The rule of thumb is as follows:

Either I am fully engaged with what I am doing, or I need to be fully disengaged from it.

That's it. Do you need to work on something, and are your energy and focus aligned with it? Go for it, go deep into it. Are you feeling distracted or discouraged? Stop hitting your head against a wall. Take a break, go for a walk, sleep, eat, read something that puts your mind out of the problem you're trying to solve.

Here's my challenge for you this week: take the time to disengage for a bit when you are not fully engaged with what you're about to do. Take that 5-minute walk, do something you enjoy. But hey: do something you enjoy, something you can use to disconnect - jumping on social media or email is not taking a break!

As always, thanks for reading 🙏!

The Leadership Library for Engineers


Wow! Philip Paetz has created leadership-library.dev, an amazing list of books, podcasts, newsletters, and other media for engineering leaders or engineers that want to grow towards a leadership position. This feels like the lead dev encyclopedia.

If you notice anything missing that you feel has been key, Philip has also created a Typeform at the bottom of the document for everyone to contribute to this!

A quick CSS Grid tip


Thanks to Meng To for the amazing quick tip to wrap the content! This has been a lifesaver for me this past week 😄

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