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Things are going slower than I would like - How to speed things up?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

I have previously worked as a software engineer at an company with a more traditional tech stack and working methods. Now, I am two months into my role as a mid-level engineer at my new company, where I develop microservices using a modern tech stack that supports hundreds of thousands of users.

However, I am finding that my personal progress is slower than desired. My performance in the technical interview was alright, and my EM expects me to gradually assume more senior responsibilities to assist our tech lead. Accordingly, I have been selecting tasks that demonstrate leadership qualities. At the same time I feel like I don't have time to plan meetings when I clearly lack expertise in our current tech stack.

To bridge the gap in my technical skills, I immerse myself in technology podcasts during my commute and workouts, making the most of my available time. In the evenings, I try to read blogs and work on side projects. Additionally, I rely extensively on Taro for learning the behavioral aspects of engineering. To make up for my slow pace, I ensure my PRs are thoroughly prepared, aiming to establish myself as a reliable engineer. Despite these efforts, I recognize the need to boost my productivity. What further steps can I take to thrive in my new role?

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 10
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    Ex-Google Senior SWE • FE/Mobile -> BE/Distributed/AI
    2 months ago

    It sounds like you're doing a lot of good things the short two months into your new role. What is the standard you're measuring yourself to that makes you feel you need to boost your productivity? That'll help me answer your question better.

    From what I can deduce, your question has various facets to it. Let me answer a couple of them.

    I feel like I don't have time to plan meetings when I clearly lack expertise in our current tech stack

    I'll comment on the lack of expertise on the current tech stack here. It takes some time to ramp up to a new tech stack. A wholistic understanding usually involves some combination of studying and building. I'd allocate some time every day to study and ramp yourself up on different parts of the stack to understand the origin of the tech, the "standard libraries" equivalent of the tech, and study its strengths and weaknesses. It's also worth talking to your team about their experiences with it and understand how the choice was made to begin with. Pick up some extra bugs and try to fix them. As you do that and make progress on your project, your knowledge will also grow. This should get you up to speed in no time.

    I recognize I need to boost my productivity

    Productivity is combined of three things:

    1. Being smart. My comment above should partially address this through gaining knowledge. Some other aspects to this are being resourceful and being open to failure with execution. An example of this for a mid-level might be sharing a design before it's perfect in your eyes to see what people think versus what you think since your own bar may be unnecessarily high. The Pareto (20/80) rule is especially helpful here.
    2. Time spent and 3. Consistency. This is about how much time you can put in to work and how long you can do it for. Someone that can sustainably execute 6 hours a day, but do it 5 days a week consistently for 2 months (240 hours total) will do better than someone that executes 8 hours a day 7 days a week but can only do it for 1 month and then need another month to recover (224 hours total). Ideally you can increase both, but everyone has their limits, so find yours. Good habits go a long way.
  • 9
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    When it comes to productivity roadblocks, there are 2 types:

    1. Internal - This is something personal to you that you can improve to move faster.
    2. External - This is something outside of your personal behavior and is more about how your organization functions (i.e. there is a part of the culture/process slowing you down).

    From the post, it's not entirely clear which one is slowing you down (it would be great for you to comment with more context whenever you have a moment), but it seems like the issue here is more internal than external so I'll write about that.

    Here are my personal Top 3 tips to boost your productivity:

    1. Remove as many meetings as possible - A corollary to this is to stack your meetings on certain days so you have focus blocks where you can get into a flow state and do deep work. If you're more senior, then the removal can be hard and the stacking is the only option you have.
    2. Minimize distractions - Put your phone away from you and disable notifications from Teams/Slack when you need to get something done.
    3. Go into the office - Honestly, this might be the most powerful one, but I understand it's not feasible for many. Social pressure is incredibly powerful.

    To go deeper, I recommend these:

    When it comes to having more presence in meetings, I recommend these:

    Lastly, no need to put so much pressure on yourself when you're new. As long as you're in-sync with your manager about your performance and meeting expectations, you're doing just fine 🙂. No need to rush things.