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Increase Leverage to Become More Effective Engineers

This post lists the key insights from this article, from PagerDuty.


Working hard is not the same as working effectively. It’s the difference between being busy and being productive. With so many things that we could be working on, it’s important to take a closer look at how we are managing our time.

For example, what projects should take priority over others and why? Answering these questions requires us to assess the leverage of a given body of work.

Leverage is defined by a simple equation: It’s the value, or impact, produced per time invested.

How Can We Increase Our Leverage?

  • By reducing the time it takes to complete a certain activity.
  • By increasing the output of a particular activity.
  • By shifting to a higher-leverage activity.

No matter what you’re doing, you should ask yourself the following questions to help improve your leverage:

  • How can I complete this activity in a shorter amount of time?
  • How can I increase the value produced by this activity?
  • Is there something else that I could spend my time on that would produce more value?

The Current JIRA Ticket You’re Working On

  • How can I complete this activity in a shorter amount of time?
  • How can I increase the value produced by this activity? Is there any way to automate parts of our current task so that we can make it easier for future developers? Can we abstract a common task into a function or class?
  • Is there something else that I could spend my time on that would produce more value? Are there more important tasks to work on that would be more pertinent to the current goal or release? Think MVP (minimum viable product) in this situation: Do we really need these fancy optimizations in the beginning when we’re just trying to gather early feedback?

Meetings

  • Does this meeting need to be an hour long? Can it be accomplished in 30 minutes? Or better yet, in 15 minutes?
  • Are the meeting objectives clear to everyone? Should attendees come prepared with anything? Should they read anything beforehand?
  • Is this meeting even necessary? Can the issue be resolved over Slack or email?

Checking Email and Slack

With constant interruptions throughout the day, use the Snooze feature in Slack, which will suppress notifications for a chosen time period, to enable you to go in the flow.

2 min​ read

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