Keeping Up

Keeping Up

This year, I started a more structured effort to keep up on the latest
user experience research and new technologies. I consider keeping up
one of the most important professional development activities I engage
in. I was determined this year to do a better and most consisent job of

It's evolved into three main activities:

  • Reading
  • Experiencing
  • Reflecting


I follow the example of Michael Hyatt
in that I start my day (in my case before going to workout) with some
reading and caffeine. This is about 20 minutes of scanning my RSS
reader for articles or blog posts I want to spend more time with. I use
Bloglines, so I mark things of
interest that I want to read more thoroughly later or possibly archive.
(TechCrunch, by the way, recently published an excellent rundown on online RSS readers.)
I read the Wall Street Journal at breakfast and then do another round
of RSS feed reading at lunch. Overall, it's about an hour a day of news
reading – some days more and some days less. At the end of my workday I
“mark all as read” in my RSS reader so that I don't feel like I'm on
some type of endless treadmill. I can't read everything – what I strive
for is a resonable sample across a balanced range of topics. I read
books in the evening, typically before bed.


This is a less structured effort time-wise, but something I try to
intigrate overall is using technology to the most reasonable extent
possible to get things done, enjoy a leisure activity, or communicate
with friends and family. This isn't too hard because I naturally enjoy
trying new technologies. Sometimes, this is about leveraging small
opportunities to take the higher-tech path vs. the low-tech path. Other
times, it's a larger project or learning effort.


Reading and experiencing are worthwhile, but I think real value
comes from reflecting. Blogging is a part of this. I have quite a few
rough posts I'll probably never publish – it's really just a vehicle to
think more deeply about topics. I am also a big fan of keeping a
professional archive. I find the act of storing, organizing, and
keywording content forces me to think about it more carefully than I
would otherwise. I use DevonThink Professional (Mac only) to archive – a program I've posted about previously.

It's easy for me to accomplish the above because I truly love what I do
and learning more about it. Thinking in terms of the three activities
has imposed a helpful structure. Time is always a limiter – a key is
striking the right balance between producing and sharpening the saw. I use time-mapping
to help me here, setting aside blocks of time for each activity. Even
if I'm not able to do all the saw sharpening I'd like to in a week,
having a plan keeps me on track in the longer term.    [IA THINK]

Leave a comment