Naeem Sarfraz

Blogging about Enterprise Architecture, ALM, DevOps & happy times coding in .Net

Keeping up with the Times and in particular Technology

As an Architect keeping up with frameworks, best practise patterns and being aware of emerging technologies can be quite a challenge and over the past year I’ve used a few productivity tools which have been invaluable. So I’d like to share a few things I do to keep on top of this.

  • Engaging with the community via Twitter
    Noise. Great as it is it can be watch out out as it can be a terrible distraction to your flow. I often wonder how much work some people actually do given the amount they tweet. However it’s useful for current developments and engaging with leaders in your field of interest.
    And here’s a tip “the best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it's to post the wrong answer.” Cunningham’s law.
  • Keeping track of blogs with Feedly
    There are an infinite number of blogs out there with posts to fill your day and at some point you’ll actually want\need to do some work. Currently I am tracking around 50 blogs and spend around 30 – 60 minutes a day catching up with them and use the following tools to keep track of what I’ve read, intend to read and notifcations of new posts when they become available. Some posts I glance over whilst others require more concentration and sometimes a quiet room.
    • Feedly – a blog aggregator which has a nice plugin for Chrome allowing me to quickly mark a post as read when it doesn’t interest me. There are mobile apps available too.
    • OneTab – OneTab keep my browser looking sane because this is no strategy!
      If I can’t read the article within a minute then it gets added to OneTab, my read later list, much like Scot Hanselman talked about.
  • Listening to Podcasts
    Commuting to work, stepping out in the car between errands or travelling on a long journey to a conference are great times to catch up on my podcast collection. Here are the current work related ones I’m following: 
  • Track a subject of interest using StackOverflow tags
    This is a great way to pickup from other people’s experiences if the subject you are tracking is new to you and has a narrow focus. I wouldn’t suggest tracking something as broad as jQuery or C# but I’m finding Domain-Driven Development much more manageable with a daily digest email containing 3/4 new questions most of which have answers.

Sometimes I can’t but feel overwhelmed with the amount of information out there so I decided to devise this strategy around this. Over time I have started to reduce the number of people I follow on twitter and the number of blogs I track.

I hope you’ll find this useful and please share your productivty tips in the comments below.

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