How I keep up

or: How I use tools to try and keep up to date with as much info as possible

This is how I try and keep up to speed with the ever changing landscape of modern web development. There is a lot of information on the web about the web and people are adding to it all the time and to keep up can be daunting and tiring. At the same time that constant change and learning is part of what I find fun and interesting about working in this medium.

Weapon of choice

The main weapon I have in keeping up is pocket. What pocket enables is two(and a half)fold, first is most obvious and that is the ability to “read it later”. Save links to access at a later date. The second is its ability to integrate with my browsing. The Chrome extension and Android apps sharing feature mean it is extremely low friction to get content for saving later. The half is pocket’s article view which although it doesn’t work on all sites, makes reading a very comfortable experience.

I’m only good at one thing at a time

There are three distinct phase for how I keep up: curation, consumption and creation. The curation phase is where I use pocket. It is a light focus, short burst activity. For example if a newsletter hits my inbox, I’ll scan through and pocket any interesting articles for later and that is it.

The insight I get from this is not deep. Just an idea of what content exists, what I want to read and also can give some insight into current trends.

The second phase is consumption, this is simply finding the time to read the articles, listen to the podcast or watch the video. I find I do not like reading too many articles back to back as I like a bit of time to digest what I have read. This is a more focused but still relatively short activity.

The third phase is creation, this is the most focused and tends to be the longest activity. Where I will simply create something using the knowledge I have gathered so far. This is where I dig into the detail and go from knowledge to understanding.

That is my process of filtering down this mass of content that is being produced everyday and trying to keep myself up to speed and knowledgable in my field.

My secret

I don’t want to know everything. It would be nice but I know if I try and keep up with and understand everything I will burn myself out. So there is an ebb and flow, I focus on different sources at different times. I’ll fall behind here and catch up there. I miss stuff, all the time and thats ok. If something slips through the curation phase, thats fine. If I never get around to reading the full article, its not a problem. High quality content will bubble up repeatedly. If I know I’ve saved a few articles on a particular subject I can always go back.

Keep things shallow until you need deep

Sometimes knowing something exists is the key. Knowing the terms to search for in Google to get to the details or syntax is the most valuable skill.

A good example is serviceworkers; right now, I know there is a ‘thing’ and that ‘thing’ is called serviceworker; I know what a serviceworker does and the problem it solves; and it seems to be a technology to keep an eye on. What I don’t know are the details to write a service worker today.

When a problem occurs that I think based on my shallow knowledge of serviceworker would be a great solution for. That is when to focus on the details, read up on API and try some test projects.

Another one of those articles

My intention of this post was to write about ‘how I keep up’. I think a more accurate title would be ‘how I keep up and not burn out’. It hit me while writing that this at its heart is another fatigue article (and I know there are a lot of those).

But I guess this is why many of those fatigue articles don’t speak to me is because I am conscious of burn out and try and run at my own pace.

I enjoy keeping up and learning but if I’m not enjoying what I’m doing I scale back. As I said there is an ebb and flow to what I am reading, watching, listening to, writing and building.

It has taken a while to find this flow but I have found I am now able to keep up with more information and more changes by not forcing myself to keep up with everything all the time.