#015: How I Became More Efficient as a Data Engineer

newsletter Oct 15, 2022

“Don't mistake activity with achievement.”.

This quote by coach John Wooden summarizes my early career.

Always feeling busy, but how much was truly productive?

Today, I want to share how I’ve become more efficient as an engineer by:

  1. Creating to-do lists

  2. Being strategically unavailable

  3. Staying on task

To-do lists help you be productive, not just busy.

Everyday is full of tasks and reminders that we manage in our heads.

This result is frequent task-hopping which can leave us feeling unaccomplished.

A personal to-do list keeps you organized and focused on what's most important.

This frees up your mind, reduces stress, and starts each day with intention.

Example: Create to-dos in Notion, OneNote, etc. and re-prioritize at the end of the day.

Being strategically unavailable avoids wasteful meetings.

People will routinely request your time to solve problems or attend meetings.

While not always bad, each commitment kills any flow-state and usually slows progress.

Try blocking your calendar and/or occasionally decline meetings.

Adding a little friction for your time establishes boundaries and avoids constant restarts.

Example: Block your calendar for heads down work and show as "busy".

Staying on task prevents self-inflicted scope creep.

I’m personally guilty of trying to fix every code issue I see.

This sounds noble, but leads to time spent on unrelated problems.

Instead, log findings as new issues to be handled separately.

You'll show more progress on assigned work without burning yourself out.

Example: Log items as GitHub Issues.

Keeping To-do's, being strategically unavailable and staying on task are 3 simple ways to boost your efficiency.

And remember - “Don't mistake activity with achievement.”.

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