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Finding Zen As An Engineer

July 12, 2019
Technostress2 1

In the last presentation at today’s CTO Summit, Gagan Saksena, CTO of Martini Media, spoke about stress and technology. He described the causes of stress and named 4 things you can do to lead a happier and less stressful life.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 8.25.21 PMTake time to detach yourself from your work.

There is an optimal amount of detachment where you are most productive. If you never take time to detach from your work you are not going to be the most efficient at doing your job. There are small things you can do to detach: take a break and go for a walk, go play a game of ping pong, or go see a movie. However, you need to make sure you’re not on the other end of the spectrum and taking too much time off. Step away, cool off and be sure your work is getting done.

Spend a lot more time designing your solution.

We make choices everyday that affect the way we allocate our time. The more contingency planning you do, the more prepared you will be for whatever obstacles you might encounter during your day. A good example of this is if you take time to train yourself to use keyboard shortcuts. You will be much more efficient in the long run.

Consider stress when making decisions.

Make sure you consider the stress component when you make a technological decision. You need to understand how your decisions are going to impact your stress level and that of your colleagues. Many times this aspect is overlooked and stress level is not considered in decision making. We often maximize for utility without thinking about stress.

You need to be prepared to pivot what you’re measuring.

Measurement itself can be very stressful, especially if you’re measuring the wrong things. Most times a decision will be made to measure certain things even after we realize that our original metrics aren’t the ones we should be using. Don’t be afraid to pivot and change what you are measuring to judge your success or failure. Measure what you can control and not things that are effected by extrinsic factors.

Gagan finished his presentation with a short list of tips he’s learned over the years:

  • If you find yourself needing more time, start by waking up just 30 minutes earlier.

  • Learn keyboard shortcuts!

  • Manage your inbox.

  • (indent) Filter; Prioritize; Do; Archive.

  • Take breaks.

  • Check your email only so often (try checking only on the :15 of the hour).

  • Don’t work when you’re in bed.