A Case for R & R: My Women Who Code CONNECT Recharge 2022 Keynote
This blog post was adapted from Princiya’s keynote presentation at the Women Who Code CONNECT Recharge 2022 event. Princiya is a Leadership Fellow with Women Who Code and an Engineering Manager at Anaconda.
When the phone battery drains, what do we do? When the laptop gets overheated, what do we do? We are forced to recharge, shut down, or buy a replacement. In this era, the blinking red battery icons on our smartphones, tablets, and laptops send us scrambling for our chargers.
Similarly, when work drains our batteries by the middle of the week, what do we do? When our workloads increase and our brains can no longer process things, what do we do? How many times have you ignored your own blinking red battery icon?
In this age of “Just do it” and “Yes we can,” the concept of refusal has come to be seen as negative. “No” is what tired, worn-out, or lazy people say. “No, stop that” is what sleep-deprived parents tell their energetic children. We need to reevaluate these stereotypes!
> Reset, recharge, reboot, restart—we humans need to do so more than our devices!
Move Away from Hustle Culture
Social media is all around us, and it is easy to be influenced by what others are doing. I am not asking you to stop being ambitious, but rather to focus your energy on doing things that truly matter to you. You don’t have to do something just because someone else is doing it.
Prioritize Things That Matter to YOU
You don’t have to work on a side project because someone else is, and you don’t have to pick up a hobby just for the sake of it. Each of us is unique—a busy week for one person might be an easy week for another—and our timing doesn’t have to line up with what’s important to others.
You can still have a good weekend being lazy or even just binge-watching a favorite show. It’s important for your health and happiness to take frequent pauses from the busy life, reset, and be recharged!
Example: Volunteering and Time Management
As a Leadership Fellow at Women Who Code, I talk to many folks interested in volunteering. They are usually excited about the prospect, but many fail to balance their time and are ultimately unable to uphold their volunteering commitments.
I try to tell these folks that they don’t have to feel guilty if they fail to find time for their volunteering commitments. I encourage them to take on tasks that offer the maximum benefit for them rather than take on tasks that they feel forced to do.
According to my observation, people sometimes want to be volunteers because they see others doing it and subscribe to hustle culture. These people are the ones who often don’t come back when they realize volunteering is not meant for them—and that’s fine.
> Be “selfish,” and identify what is most important to you.
Learn to Say “No”
Time management is a common topic of my discussions within the community. Some people know and acknowledge they are in a time crisis, but others are shy or hesitant to admit this. As you start or take the next step in your career, time management is one of the things you will have to re-learn. Unlearn saying yes to everything, learn to say “NO,” and learn to prioritize what’s most important to you.
When considering a task, ask yourself:
What purpose does this serve? (Identify what really matters to you!)
Does this purpose align with my goals and priorities?
How might this drain my energy or motivation?
How will I refuel?
Reset and Recharge: Learning from Computer Science
What can key concepts from the world of Computer Science, where algorithms, design patterns, and data structures are fundamental, teach us about resetting and recharging?
Design patterns are solutions to commonly occurring problems in software design. Each of our lives is unique based on our circumstances. We can follow role models, but in the end we often realize there is no pattern for copy-pasting a career. As a design pattern, the exact order of implementation is up to us. Most importantly, we need a design pattern for resetting from the hustle mindset.
> Ask yourself: Is there a design pattern for shaping my career? What about for resetting and recharging? How can design patterns inspire me to achieve greater balance?
An algorithm defines a clear set of actions that can achieve a goal. Like an algorithm and its implementation, our ideal learning paths can vary depending on our unique challenges or constraints. If your original path or plan does not work, change the plan; change the algorithm. Have a plan B! Without changing the goal itself, tweak your learning algorithm to be efficient and tailored to your learning goal.
> Identify an algorithm that best allows you to recharge. What is the clear set of actions that provides you with the rest you need?
A data structure is a collection of data values, the relationships among them, and the functions or operations that can be applied to the data. Our habits are like data structures. The tiny habits you cultivate day to day will help you shape your career into a successful one. Be honest, trustworthy, and be true to yourself and your job.
> Work hard, but smart! Take breaks, drink water, exercise, get sleep, and focus on your health. And don’t feel guilty if your weekend routine includes being “lazy” and binge-watching Netflix.
As humans, we need to rest and recharge even more than our devices do. It is important to:
Reevaluate hustle culture.
Learn how to prioritize and say “No.”
Look to familiar ecosystems like Computer Science for inspiration.
Of course, it’s helpful to work for a company where you’re encouraged to rest and recharge. Anaconda offers unlimited PTO, a flexible work policy, and Snake Days (once-a-month company-designated days off to relax and recharge). In fact, we have a Snake Day tomorrow! Did I mention we’re hiring?
Good luck resetting and recharging! Thank you Women Who Code for this keynote opportunity.