Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning Strategies for Engineers - Part 2

In part 1 of this series I covered some strategies for building your technical skills as an engineer.  Part 2 is going to be more about soft skills and improving personal relationships.  Let's get into it.


Use GTD or Some Other System:

Getting Things Done is a personal management system that allows you to keep track of all your commitments, and "close the loop" on tasks you personally have to do as well as tasks that you have delegated to others.  The primary goal is to boost productivity, but just as important is the goal to relieve  stress by making you secure in the knowledge that all of your responsibilities are under control.

GTD centers around this flow chart for processing incoming items:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learning Strategies for Engineers - Part 1

In my last weeks at Wayfair I gave a series of talks titled "Learning Strategies for Engineers" that were designed to kick off a peer to peer training program within the engineering group.  They were targeted at both new and experienced engineers, with the goal of giving people another another perspective on how to stay current in our field.  People seemed to enjoy these sessions, so I am reproducing the key points here.  Part 1 will cover technical skills and possible ways to grow them, while part 2 will focus on "soft skills" and interpersonal relationships.  I'm sure that many of these points will seem obvious, but hopefully some of it is useful.


Read:

I subscribe to around 100 blogs in Google Reader, most of which are technical.  You can download the list with the non-technical blogs removed and import it directly into the RSS reader of your choice here.  I try to read everything that comes in, although I just scan some of the feeds (Slashdot in particular) for interesting items and then mark the rest as read.  My goal is to keep the unread count at zero, and though that is rarely the case I have found that I can stabilize it at under 100 unread items with a modest time investment (maybe an hour a day).  One important thing to note here is that I have made a rule with myself that when I add a feed I have to drop one - I don't want to fall into the trap where I spend all of my time reading technical literature and not enough time actually doing things.