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Level Up - Issue #120

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Level Up

November 28 · Issue #120 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by https://patkua.com. Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.


Finding your focus time
I spoke with an engineering leader this week who complained about never having enough time (one of the reasons I built this course). All leaders face this problem as there is always more work than time. In these conversations, I often ask, “What is your strategy for finding your flow?” A lot of people sound surprised when they reply, “What do you mean flow? I’m not an individual contributor writing code. I should be interruptable and available for my team.” While I agree that leaders need to provide timely support and context, there’s a big difference between being 100% on-demand and also finding focus time for you.
I remember feeling this way when I lead one of my first teams. When I sat down to work on my own tasks, I would get interrupted. I knew this was good for the team, but I also felt frustrated because I couldn’t find my flow. This frustration surfaced in ways I didn’t mean like raising my voice or being very blunt.
My issue was that I didn’t set clear boundaries and shared expectations around how time should be used. I needed to agree with my team time when I could be heads-down, working on what I needed to work on, but also be available. In a co-located room, my team and I agreed on a physical token (a stuffed animal). When it was on top of my monitor, I was in my “focus mode” so people knew to ask someone else, or wait until I was no longer in my “focus mode.” We’d also agreed that “focus mode” wouldn’t go for more than 2 hours.
In today’s distributed world, this might be as simple as setting your status on Slack as “Do not disturb.” Others have an automated reply like an “Out of Office” but letting people know that an email response might arrive tomorrow rather than today. The key to this is finding a solution that works for you and for the people you need to collaborate with.
As we head towards the end of the year, reflect on how you’re handling interruptions and where you are finding your flow. Drop me an email if you want to share how you find your flow as a leader in tech.
Enjoy this week’s newsletter and be sure to pass it on to a friend or colleague.
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Watch out for future dates of “Shortcut to Tech Leadership” in 2022, or take a self-paced course at the http://techlead.academy.

Every leader needs time to focus on having the most impact. What's your strategy for finding your focus time?
Every leader needs time to focus on having the most impact. What's your strategy for finding your focus time?
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Leadership
5 Signs of (Management) Burnout. Take care of your mental wellbeing
How GitLab automates engineering management
4 Items you need to talk about in your mentor meeting
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Tech
The Unfulfilled Potential of Serverless
Learning Containers From The Bottom Up
CRISP: Critical Path Analysis for Microservice Architectures
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Organisation & Processes
Atom Bank introduces four-day working week without cutting pay
The 2021 State of the Octoverse
Reframing tech debt
Tweets of the Week
Too relevant 😂
So true! 👇
Jeff Doolittle
@allenholub Leadership and investing in people matters so much more than a particular process or methodology. The worst process is improved by good leadership. The ideal process cannot survive poor leadership.
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share it with others!
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Watch out for future dates for the Shortcut to Tech Leadership online workshop, or check out self-paced courses at the Tech Lead Academy.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany