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Level Up - Issue #57

Escaping the Reactive Hamster Wheel trap A lot of leaders I know fall into what I call the Reactive H

Level Up

September 13 · Issue #57 · View online
Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

Escaping the Reactive Hamster Wheel trap
A lot of leaders I know fall into what I call the Reactive Hamster Wheel trap. It’s easy to find yourself suddenly inside this trap. All it takes are a series of emergencies or many simultaneous requests you say yes to. Suddenly, bam! You find yourself inside the wheel. You know you’re inside the wheel because it feels like you’re moving from meeting to meeting, struggling to keep on top of emails/slack and never feel like you’re making any progress on your key topics. Constant reaction takes away your time and a lack of time leads to reacting more frequently. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s one of the reasons I see effective Time Management as a foundation for effective leadership. As I often say, “If you don’t prioritise your time, others will do it for you.
Once you’re in the Reactive Hamster Wheel, it can be hard to escape. You find yourself reacting to every email, request, and can never seem to find the time to find your focus. But you can break out of this vicious circle.
Even though you may be in the trap this week, you need to look further in the future. Look at your calendar a week or two weeks in advance and add a 1-2 hour placeholder titled, “Focus Time.” Use this time to list out your priorities and where you *should* be focusing your time, not where you *are*. Use this list as a way of evaluating work or requests coming through. If you do this right, you’ll start to say no and find ways to be more proactive and less reactive.
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Photo courtesy of frankieleon (
Photo courtesy of frankieleon (
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Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
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Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Join the Shortcut to Tech Leadership online training workshop, built from the ground up for a distribute remote learning experience. Or check out the self-paced courses at the Tech Lead Academy including “Time Management for Technical Leaders” and “Fundamentals of Systems Thinking”.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany