The one bit of advice I wish I’d received much earlier in my career is:
Saying yes to one thing means that you are always saying no to something else!
It seems pretty obvious when you think about it, as time is finite. So every little task you take on is consuming a part of that finite resource. When you’re starting out, you’re probably ‘time rich / cash poor’ which is probably the worst combination as it almost always rewards taking too much on. You’ve got more time and you’re still learning, so over committing a little won’t hurt surely? The worst possible thing then probably happens, you’re rewarded for your efforts with promotion and salary increases…..and the beginnings of a bad habit is quickly formed / re-enforced.
In the beginning, you are probably saying no to your leisure time:- I really want to get this done and I’d only be sitting at home and it’s only this once / small thing. Slowly, as your career develops, you’ll most likely end up with more things than can be done in the hours available (often all the hours in the day, not just work hours). If you’re in this situation and that urgent, important work comes along (it always does), then, of course, you’ll need to / should do it. But the next question, after saying ‘yes’, is ‘What other tasks can be delayed to make space for this urgent work?’ Sometimes just asking this question might highlight that that ‘important’ task isn’t quite as urgent as it first seemed in relation to everything else you’re currently committed to. Either way, the outcome should be you feeling confident you’re still able to deliver on your commitments without sacrificing your social life/health.
Last year, as part of a series of posts, I asked: “Are you investing in your own career?“. This, in part, came about from a great quote that heard: Do you have 10 years experience, or 1 year’s experience repeated 10 times? I think the majority of developers starting out are fired up and excited every day. Everything is new, everything is a challenge. Just getting something to work, no matter how is a success. . . .
I can still remember my first phone interview for a job. I had no idea what to expect so really wasn’t looking forward to it, but it can’t have gone too badly because I got the job. Now that I’ve been lucky enough to progress in my career to positions where I’m conducting the other side of the phone interview I’ve been quite surprised how little it takes to stand out from the crowd: 1. . . .