Level Up

By Patrick Kua

Level Up - Issue #135



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Level Up

March 13 · Issue #135 · 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.

Dealing with information overload
In a conversation this week, someone asked me how do I deal with the flood of information as a technical leader. There are countless sources of general information (newsletters like this, news sites, twitter, reddit, slack/discord communities, internal email, etc) and then you have company/team specific communication channels to also keep on top of. In this intro, I want to share a few tips on how I generally approach this and maybe it sparks a few new ideas for you too:
  • Accept there will be too much - It’s natural to feel FOMO, especially in tech where new technologies, tools and approaches emerge all the time. You literally can’t digest all the available information. If it’s important, you’ll see it re-emerge. If not, it probably wasn’t so important.
  • Define your interests - Once you accept you can’t absorb all the information, answer the question, “What are you interested in?” No one can answer that for you. As an example, over the past year, I’ve had five research themes. As I read, if some content is related, I might spend a bit more time reading those. If it’s not related, I can quickly discard this. For example, as I focus on technical leadership topics, I don’t worry too much about keeping up with the latest CSS approaches, or the latest JS web UI framework.
  • Purposely browse - Although it’s important to have your core interests, I find it also useful to purposefully step outside of your normal sources and simply click through on some topics. When I do this, I time-box myself (e.g. 5 mins of serendipity) to get exposed to different opinions and ideas.
  • Focus on principles - Why is the learning curve for your first programming language steeper than your second, third or fourth? It’s because you’re not only learning the syntax and tooling but you’re also learning core programming principles. Once you master a programming language, you have a foundation set of programming principles. When you learn a second programming language, you’re not starting completely from scratch again. Good principles like well-refactored, well modularised, high cohesion and low coupling apply regardless of programming language. It simply looks different. When I read, I’m trying to discover if I’m learning a new principle, or a principle I already know explained differently.
  • Learn to skim - I’m lucky in that I can read very quickly. Part of this is scanning headlines, keywords, paragraphs to see if an article or content is interesting. If so, I might spend the time to read it all. If not, I’ve saved time and can move on to the next topic.
Those are just a few tips I find myself regularly using to keep on top of the information firehose. Have any tips you’d like to share with me? Drop me an email.
Stay safe out there 💙💛. If you enjoy this week’s newsletter, please pass it on to a friend or colleague who might benefit.
Join an online guided course, Shortcut to Tech Leadership (IC track) or Engineering Manager Essentials (Management track) to level up your skills. Or grow your value as a technical leader with self-paced courses at the http://techlead.academy

It's easy to feel overwhelmed
It's easy to feel overwhelmed
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Tweets of the Week
A great thread (click to open) about managers not being the 💩☂️
Marco Rogers
I wanna talk about being a "shit umbrella" for a second. This is a term I've heard for most of my career. But my understanding of it has gone through lots of different phases. And today I try hard to convince managers not to be a "shit umbrella". https://t.co/yo4f3oiF4t
A lesson in how to not welcome staff back to the office 👇
Audra Williams
In the lobby of an office building in Toronto. I guess to make sure employees are flooded with resentment the instant they walk in the door? https://t.co/oWUDofGvzK
A bonus tweet this week to end with some laughter 🤣 Probably especially relevant for partners of those who work in tech 😅
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, send me feedback and share it with others!
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany