👷 Tips for effective engineering

May 22, 2022


Few simple practices to help you work effectively.

  • Solve problems and brainstorm in the correct phase of the day
  • Break down your workday into work sessions
  • Do energy-consuming tasks early in the morning
  • Track and analyze where your time goes
  • Eliminate unnecessary time-wasters
  • Avoid multitasking
  • Make it a habit
  • Give yourself time to rest

Solve problems and brainstorm in the correct phase of the day

time management

The first phase of the day (~0-8 hours after waking up) is ideal for analytic “hard” thinking and any work that you find particularly challenging e.g. implementing a complex feature, debugging and solving problems, learning. The second phase (~9-16 hours after waking) is optimal for brainstorming and creative work. For me it’s the time where I try to schedule most of my meetings with the clients.

Huberman Lab - 5 Steps to Improve Your Workspace

Break down your workday into work sessions

No distraction and deep focus get things done.

Divide your day into deep work sessions, 90 minutes each (however if you’re rolling and lost yourself in it, keep it rolling) with 5 minutes break to let rest your eyes (ideally). Turn off all of your notifications, don’t check your inbox, and focus on finishing your task.

Avoid distracting yourself, even for a few minutes, it can ruin your focus. Postpone tasks like helping others or answering emails to the dedicated time during the day.

Of course, there are issues that need to be resolved quickly, nevertheless if you feel like this is how you spend most of your days, you will burn out in the matter of years.

Do energy-consuming tasks early in the morning

I do, what you don’t want to do, that you know you’ve got to do, to be where you want to be.
Dan Peña

Your motivation is at the highest level after you wake up. Have a list of tasks that is not particularly enjoyable but is necessary to push things forward, and start your day by completing one or two points from this list. You will contribute to the company by doing things that no one wants to do, and make significant progress.

Still, balance your daily tasks with things that motivate and energize you, and you actually enjoy starting. This will be an additional reward besides the satisfaction from what you have done so far.

Track and analyze where your time goes

The first step toward effectiveness is a procedure: recording where the time goes
Peter Drucker in Effective Executive

Start with keeping a log of tasks, meetings, and activities that you do during working hours. The best way to do it is to record activities immediately after finishing or allocate finite time to work on a single task.

After you find out where your time goes, you can eliminate all your time-wasting activities focus on delivering value, and produce better outcomes.

Eliminate unnecessary time-wasters

To know which tasks to eliminate, ask yourself: ”What would happen if this were not done at all”, if the answer is ”Nothing” then obviously the conclusion is to stop doing it.

Look at meetings in your calendar. If you feel like you should not attend it, then don’t. If you miss something important, you will find out relatively quickly. In the era of remote work, most of the meetings are recorded. You can rewatch them in speed-up mode and save even more time.

Prioritize asynchronous work if possible, and attend meetings only if necessary. However, be aware of cases when you need to call someone to push things forward instead of waiting for them to respond.

Avoid multitasking

Intensive multitasking can cause stress. Don’t ignore it. Learn how to prioritize tasks and if to even prioritze them at all (great example of managing inbox in the link below), select activities where you can bring the most value, do them one at a time during deep work sessions like I described earlier, delegate tasks to others if possible, avoid distractors, and learn how to deal with stress and calm your mind.

How to manage your time more effectively (according to machines) - Brian Christian

Make it a habit

Time management is a process, not a one-time job. When you stop tracking your time, you will again fall into those traps of wasting it. Keep working on it constantly, and you will see the results.

Huberman Lab - Build or Break Habits Using Science-Based Tools

Give yourself time to rest

Your Career Isn’t a Marathon, It’s a Series of Sprints
Niklas Göke

When you are good with the basics, learn how to play the long game. In my opinion, a time of deep rest and recovery after a sprint during which you showed the outstanding performance and effectiveness is a great practice.

As a modern knowledge worker athlete, an intellectual athlete, you want to function as an athlete. This means you train hard, then you sprint, then you rest, then you reassess. You get a feedback loop, then you train some more, then you sprint again, then you rest, then you reassess.

Constantly working at the highest possible level leads to burnout. Respect your body and give it some time to recover. Remember about fundamentals to sleep well, get some sun, eat healthy, exercise, socialize and you should be good to go.


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Copyright © Damian Budelewski 2022