Why the grass elsewhere is not always greener and you should take care of your own lawn.
No this is not a post of becoming a successful green keeper but about how shifting my focus at my current position made me more motivated and effective in 6 months than in the 3 years before.
I read a lot and love to follow what is going on in tech and I noticed lately there is an upwards trend of articles like: “the 10 programming languages you have to learn in 2022” , “web3 is taking over the world start now” or “start studying x to triple your salary as dev”. You probably see those articles as well and like me you will doubt once a while whether or not it is time to jump on the next big thing and how to stay up to date. I have to admit I suffer from fear of missing out and I don’t want to become irrelevant. The last is a good mindset to have, however a danger is lurking which is that this fear made me totally focused on the future of which we all know is hard to predict. I was missing out on opportunities to improve my service for my current employer and grow in my current role. In this article I wrote down what I did to increase my value, gain more focus and more importantly have lots of fun while doing it.
“If the grass is greener on the other side it’s probably getting better care. Success is a matter of sticking to a set of common sense principles anyone can master.” -Earl Nightingale
1. Dedicate one hour a day as a study hour to figure out how to solve big challenges.
In the past I used a studylist for my daily study hour and evaluated the topics based on relevance and fun factor. I went studying but after a while I found out that my motivation started to drop. Why is that? Despite the fact that I was learning new things, I lacked a clear direction. I wanted to work on something that really challenges me and that will yield big results!
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible- Tony Robbins
Time to do things differently: so I grabbed the first item on my study list “studying performance on Flutter” and rewrote it towards a goal:. “make sure my app runs on 60FPS (frames per second)”. This was a big goal for me and when starting on it my app ran at an average of 50 FPS, I had no idea how to get there but this goal gave me a clear direction and I knew where to start. First, I needed to learn more about tools to measure performance and figure out how to interpret the data. Then I went deep into rendering, CPU, memory, good/bad practises etc. After a week I managed to run my app on an average of 55 FPS and 1.5 week later I achieved my goal. Not only did the app run on 60FPS but also memory usage went down with 22% and I did it by dedicating one hour a day. My current study goal is “create a Geofence plugin that successfully triggers an event when I am close to a store”.
2. Learn more about the company’s industry and your role in the company
Before joining the startup world I worked for a big corporation and learned valuable lessons on developing apps at scale. At my current job I realised that my knowledge about scaling up apps and delivering quality is very valuable but that working for a startup requires me to know more about the industry and other disciplines. I focused on 2 areas:
- The industry the company operates:
I subscribed to Foodtech newsletters, follow leaders on social media and found out that there are countless videos on product presentations on YouTube. Also I learned from the UX designer that by becoming a customer of the competitor apps you gain valuable insights on what works well and what could be an opportunity to do better.
- My role in the company
When working for a startup it is not only required to develop a great app but also that you participate in strategic meetings and you will have multiple roles. In order to be of better service I learned about UX, data analytics, product discovery and backend development. For example by doing a 2 hour free course on data analytics I could help my colleagues in setting up metrics + dashboards and also improved the data logging points in the app.
Don’t freak out. I didn’t do everything at the same time and like me you can start small. Read 2 articles about the field, subscribe to 1 newsletter, spend ten minutes analysing a competitor app or read 20 pages in a book. Those small systematic efforts will have a compounding effect over time and within months you build up a valuable knowledge-base.
I am not saying to not look to the future and if you feel really motivated to learn something totally new go for it! My point is that besides looking at all the delicious tech outside your field, don’t forget about where you are now. By applying a bit more focus in the now I achieved more growth in 6 months than in the 3 years before that and I feel I am just getting started. Hope you enjoyed reading this article and feel free to reach out in the comments below.