4 mins

Are your New Year's resolutions already wearing off? Need an efficiency boost? Here are 5 articles packed with tips and tricks to supercharge your 2024.

We all come back to work at the start of the year with good intentions. But come February, as projects pile up and your diary gets packed out, momentum can start to wane.

Prioritizing a busy workload can feel overwhelming, and finding the time to attack your to-do list gets harder as things get busier. The key to organizing, prioritizing, and effectively managing your week is gathering all of your tasks in one place, finding a system that works for you, and sticking to it.

Here are five articles from fellow engineering managers on how they manage things to help you fly through 2024. 

1. Pat Kua, How leaders can better prioritize personal to-dos 

Deciding what to work on and planning your own personal to-dos can be challenging for leaders whose primary focus is team efficiency. In this article, Pat shares how to collate pending tasks and then subsequently manage them on a daily basis once you've found an effective triaging system that works for you. Armed with a workflow that fits your needs, Pat then outlines how you can regularly review your list and keep on track. 

Key takeaway: “Prioritizing is hard, but it’s worth deliberately focusing on as it’s the one that will ultimately determine your impact.” … Getting to grips with this skill will end up paying dividends!

2. Laurie Barth, A prioritization framework for uncertain times 

Doing more with less is a rhetoric we’ve heard many times before, especially throughout the difficult year that was 2023. As the industry was plagued by mass layoffs, leaders were forced to make difficult decisions on which tasks to tackle first with a leaner team. In most cases, teams will inevitably have to make compromises, but ruthless prioritization can take you a long way. Wondering how to start? Try Laurie’s three buckets model to effectively rotate between tasks. 

Key takeaway: “Context and circumstances are fluid, something that wasn’t important yesterday can become your highest priority tomorrow,” and in these instances, communication will be your best bet. 

3. Harry Guinness, How engineering leaders can better organize their day 

Wondering how to hack your productivity? Harry’s quick read provides you with six ways to better organize your day. From tried and tested ways of becoming intentional with your time, to remaining focused without expending extra mental bandwidth, this article is full of rich insights from engineering leaders around the world. 

Key takeaway: “Having a big-picture idea of how you’d like to spend your time is important, but like all plans, it might not survive contact with reality.”

4. Leslie Chapman, 4 strategies to amplify engineering leader productivity 

Regardless of how you define productivity, there are many ways for you to enhance it. Here, Leslie shares the four core elements to becoming a productive leader for the benefit of your team, the managers you answer to, and, not least, yourself. This more introspective take on finding the best ways to be productive guides you in understanding your stakeholders, as well as your personal drivers and strengths. With this clarity, you’ll be able to identify what you should be working on now, the things that can wait until later, and those jobs that are worth delegating to others. 

Key takeaway: “It’s important to understand how stakeholders influence your definition of productivity. Once you have that definition, you can set about making a plan for being as successful as possible.” 

5. Addy Osmani, Managing the chaos of context switching 

It's long proven that most humans aren’t great multitaskers; in fact, for a lot of us, it isn’t actually possible. Instead, people often switch from one thing to another, shifting your focus and attention. Often this happens to the detriment of your efficiency, as studies have found it can take 23 minutes to regain your focus after context switching. Given that engineering leaders are already pretty strapped for time in their week, and let’s be honest, probably can’t avoid context switching altogether, this article provides great tips on how to manage the pendulum swing and put in place systems to help reduce distractions in the first place. 

Key takeaway: “By mapping out the mental weight of your tasks, you can strategically allocate your brainpower.”

Your next steps as an efficient leader

The perennial issue of being the most effective leader in the most efficient time is subjective to your journey and likely nuanced in its resolution. If productivity and efficiency is something that you struggle with, try and test these methods to see what works best for you. You won’t fix the issues overnight, but putting the building blocks in place to improve every day will compound over time. 

If you enjoyed these articles, you might also be interested in a leader’s guide to effective time management and tech leadership mistakes that ruin productivity (and how to fix them).

If you have your own tried and tested methods for effective leadership, we'd love to hear from you. Share your ideas with us here.