I was asked what are some of the techniques I use to be productive. I found that the most impactful one has been intentional repetition.

When I want to develop a new skill, it looks roughly like this:

  • The first time, I do a lot of research into what's the absolute best way to do it and focus 100% of my energy on it.
  • For the next while, I use every opportunity I get to work on that skill.
  • At some point I "mastered" the skill and can do it on the side as it takes me a lot less time. I'm also starting to delegate by growing other people to do it.

Here's a concrete example:

  • When I said yes to organize the first React Conf, I read everything I could about how to organize conferences. It basically took me 3 months full time. I did nothing else during that time.
  • Then, for the next few years I jumped on every opportunity to organize large tech events, I helped with React Europe, the second React Conf, many internal All Hands and Summits... Each of them taking less and less time.
  • Nowadays, I am able to organize those kind of events by building a team of people that are going to execute on it.

I've used intentional repetition many times over the years, here are some examples:

  • In high school, I was this kid that instead of doing the one exercise that was asked, did all the exercises of the entire page to understand the pattern.
  • Working on prettier, I would try to estimate how long it'd take me to fix an edge case (which there was hundreds to tackle). At first it started in the hour range and towards the end it would take in the 10 minutes range.
  • Going through the open source process with React, Flow, Jest, React Native, Prettier, Excalidraw, Recoil...
  • Public speaking, at first I would spend 2 weeks full time preparing for every single talk.
  • More recently, I started playing Valorant, a FPS game that heavily punishes being imprecise. So I trained moving the mouse first to aim and then clicking, instead of clicking and then moving.
  • Cleaning the playroom at the end of each day.

My overall strategy has been to develop one skill at a time using intentional repetition. This worked well except for one time: when I switched to being a manager a year ago. I had to learn a ton of new skills all at once (how to run meetings, 1-1s, career development, planning, exec reviews...) and was overwhelmed.

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