Professional Growth and My New Way of Working (Inspired by CGP Grey)

I’m aiming to find software engineering work for three days a week (API, platform team, etc.). I’ll spend the other two days producing Pluralsight courses or studying.

When I think about how I formed the basis of my technical knowledge and ability, what really stands out is the value of dedicated study time. I have had two such periods in my career, one where an employer sponsored my MSc in Computing and the other when I attended a 10 week SANS cyber security bootcamp. I look back on both periods with wonder; at how hard I worked, at how much they changed the course of my career and how immensely happy I was during them!

Whilst I’ve continued to learn and grow since then, recent work has not produced as much new knowledge. We all have to continuously learn to work in tech, but the reality is a company generally pays for what you can do and not what you could do (if you studied for a few weeks/months). As my experience trends increasingly towards the “Senior…” job titles, I’m seeing this more and more; it’s getting harder to switch direction slightly and pick up new skills, because “Senior…” anything implies you’re pretty well experienced. I know for a fact that I’ve been doing less learning, whilst also knowing that learning is key to my professional growth and personal sense of fulfillment. The closest I’ve got to studying lately has been producing Pluralsight courses. Even with a subject you know well, nothing makes you learn like having to teach.

Accompanying this, is the reckoning that we’ve all had with our pre-COVID working routines and how unnecessary a lot of it was. No we didn’t have to be in the office by 9am and no we didn’t even need to be in the office at all. Other ideas you will have heard before and since COVID include: the four day work week; working from a Caribbean island and regular paid study/project time. All of these ideas have merits that can be debated back and forth but personally I’m convinced on the benefits of autonomy, condensing work into the smallest reasonable time frame and working as asynchronously as possible.

So where does that leave me, as someone with a desire for new knowledge and an uneasy feeling about how to achieve that in a normal five day week? Should I quit? Yes, I should quit! That’s right, I recently started a new position that wasn’t working out as hoped, so I quit to try a new way of working.

My new way of working is inspired by one of my favourite YouTubers, CGP Grey, who makes well researched and very entertaining explainers. Grey has posted a very touching take on lockdown productivity, why hexagons are the best(agons) and weekend Wednesday. Weekend Wednesday is the idea of splitting your five working days in two, by moving your “Saturday” to Wednesday. This should give you more of an even feeling through the week, without a looming Monday or being exhausted on a Friday; overall it should be easier to work productively whilst being more relaxed and happy.

In trying to solve the issue of an unsatisfying new role, I realised that I was already half way to learning more and gaining all the benefits of a weekend Wednesday. As I write this, I am at the start of producing a new course for Pluralsight and have absolutely no other work lined up. I have decided to embrace this situation and start with weekend Wednesday. At the same time, I will be searching for a company that will allow me to engineer software three days a week. Then I’ll continue with weekend Wednesday (or Thursday) and spending the other two working days fueling my knowledge. I think everyone wins in this situation; the company gets my experience at either a reduced rate or reduced commitment; I get to rapidly grow in areas that it would otherwise be difficult to.

I’ve given myself 3-6 months to see how this works out. Maybe I can find somewhere for the three days, maybe tech companies aren’t as flexible as they claim to be. Maybe I run out of courses to produce super quickly or maybe this is the start of a whole new independent-working adventure! Either way, I’m taking a risk and am very excited about doing it. At minimum, I’ll get to try something new and likely come out with one or two useful certifications.

If you’d like to arrange a call to find out what I can do now or will be doing in the future, then drop me an email.