Omnitech’s five summer interns recently approached our own, Kevin Logan, about presenting at their weekly Lunch & Learn about his time management, speaking engagements, and knowledge sharing experiences over the years. He jumped at the opportunity and wrote up some rough ideas on a few sticky notes.
Here’s what Kevin wrote for us.
Over the years, Uncle Bob Martin, The Pragmatic Programmer book, and others have been talking about software craftsmanship. I want to continually improve and master as much of software development as possible. As I was doing some projects at home this weekend, I thought of a few important words that we need to keep in mind.
I want to be the best I can at my job, and I am blessed to enjoy it at the same time. What motivates you?
Ultimately, my job is to solve problems that accomplish business goals for our clients. Most of that comes from creating and maintaining software, but also through knowing what the right tools are for the job and learning from experts throughout the field. One big push and pull of my daily work is when and how much time to devote to reading/learning articles. I have found it very valuable to keep up to date with new technologies, so I am usually reading something while I am waiting for a build to run or a response from someone. However, this type of learning needs to be in balance with the objectives of limiting distractions as much as possible.
Time: I have used my free-time during lunches for many years for professional growth. This time added up to many certification tests passed, books read, Pluralsight courses watched and MSDN articles read. I also read in the evening and attend several Lunch & Learns through the week. In addition, I listen to podcasts on my bike ride commute. Small chunks of time consistently over the years adds up!
Priorities: We all have to decide what’s most important in life and also in learning. For me, I try to put my faith, family, and, church, and others first. Followed by myself and my career. I am not always successful in that order. However, I am able to keep learning throughout the day, whether it is taking a bit of time through the work day to check Twitter and read a new article or sitting on the couch and reading MSDN or a book. Although, I try not to prioritize work when I am home with my family.
Other things that may compete for time and energy are entertainment, friends, sports, hunting, fishing, biking, trips, kids’ activities. Not everyone can or should prioritize learning and technology highly. Evaluate what makes sense for you and your family.
Setting Goals and writing them down will help. I have been using a Google Spreadsheet track my current goals. Some Examples are:
Sprints of Learning: This was suggested to me, and I really like the idea. I am interested in many technology areas. How do I ever dig deep when there are so many topics? Create personal sprints! Example: I needed to study for the 70-532 Microsoft Azure test. I decided to ignore as many articles as I could, skip some Lunch and Learns and use that time for learning and studying about Azure. It paid off with a pass on the first test take!
Avoid Interruptions and keep focused: Emails, newsletters, and Twitter links can quickly pull me off task, and I lose 15 minutes easily. The Pomodoro Technique can help you stay focused for 25 minutes, then allow guilt free breaks and email checks. I enjoyed it when I’ve tried it, but I still need more discipline in this area.
CodeAlikeis another tool I have used off and on. You can track when you are the most focused. It is fun to try and get to an “on fire” day.
Scott Hanselman has many more tips as well.
Take Breaks: Sometimes you just need to get out for a walk or talk to someone (avoid distracting them) to get your head back in a good place. Inviting a few people outside for a 10-minute walk is a great way to get to know your co-workers.
Sharing and Giving Back
What good is knowledge if you keep it to yourself?
I am driven to share links and lessons learned on Slack/Teams, Twitter, blog articles, in person and by giving talks. I think this helps others be more productive and avoid time sinks that I have experienced. If we know the right tool or read the right approach we can save time, have a more enjoyable project to work on and achieve better results for our clients and users.
When I am in the office, I try to fit in a walk with a teammate to check in on how a project is going, I frequently ask for company time to teach about Unit Testing or Dev Ops.
I encourage you to give back as well. Over the years I have been active in several areas online and around Sioux Falls. Below are some examples of how I was able to get involved:
If I can do this stuff, surely you can do things too!
Originally posted by Kevin Logan at http://aligneddev.net/blog/2017/Mastery-Time-Management-Giving-Back/
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