We all have a finite amount of time to live, and within that mortal countdown we devote some fraction towards our work. Even for the most career-focused, your life will be filled by many things beyond work: supporting your family, children, exercise, being a mentor and a mentee, hobbies, and so the list goes on. This is the sign of a rich life, but one side-effect is that time to do your work will become increasingly scarce as you get deeper into your career.
如果您继续在您的职业生涯中推进，那么即使您的工作时间缩小，围绕您的影响的期望将继续增长。有一段时间，你可以尝试睡眠少或剥夺自己所需的非工作活动，但你不可避免地发现你的工作对你的牺牲保持了一种冷漠，而不是奖励它。只有通过pacing your career to your lifecan you sustain yourself for the long-term.
Indeed, pacing yourself becomes the central challenge of a sustained, successful career: increasingly senior roles require that you accomplish more and more, and do it in less and less time. The ledge between these two constraints gets narrower the further you go, but it remains walkable if you take a deliberate approach.
Hunter Walk recommends that folksavoid “snacking”when they prioritize work. If you’re in a well-run organization, at some point you’re going to run out of things that are both high-impact and easy. This leaves you with a choice between shifting right to hard and high-impact or shifting down to easy and low-impact. The later choice–easy and low-impact–is what Walk refers to assnacking。
When you’re busy, these snacks give a sense of accomplishment that makes them psychologically rewarding but you’re unlikely to learn much from doing them, others are likely equally capable of completing them (and对于其中一些可能是一个良好的发展机会），而且有一个巨大的机会成本与做出更高的影响。
Where “snacking” is the broad category of doing easy and low-impact work, there’s a particularly seductive subset of snacking that I call “preening.” Preening is doing low-impact, high-visibility work. Many companies conflate high-visibility and high-impact so strongly that they can’t distinguish between preening and impact, which is why it’s not uncommon to see some companies’ senior-most engineers spend the majority of their time doing work of dubious value but that is frequently recognized in company meetings.
如果你是短期的看法career growth然后在评估影响方面优化您当前的组织的病态是最佳路径：辉煌的道路但是，如果您正在考虑发展自己以作为您的成功current role grows in complexity或者在多个组织中，在有价值的工作与自我增长之间取得平衡，更重要。
This is also an important factor to consider when choosing a company to work at! Dig into what a company values and ensure it aligns with your intended personal growth. If a company’s leadership is entirely folks who focus their energy on performant urgency or acts of fealty, don’t be surprised when your success in the company depends on those activities.
更糟糕的是，成为一个成功的预感需要近来的无懈可击批评你的实际影响以及你的真实工作willsuffer if your energy is diverted to preening. Typically this means you need to be a vanity hire of a senior leader or to present yourself in the way a company believes leaders look and act. If that isn’t you, then your attempt to exchange your good judgement for company success will end up failing anyway: you’ll get held accountability for the lack of true impact where others who match the company’s expectation of how a leader appears will somehow slip upward.
Stop chasing ghosts
Many folks would assume that companies, rational optimizers that they are, avoid spending much time on low-impact high-effort projects. Unfortunately that isn’t consistently the case. It’s surprisingly common for a new senior leader to join a company and immediately drivea strategy shift that fundamentally misunderstands the challenges at hand。The ghosts of their previous situation hold such a firm grasp on their understanding of the new company that they misjudge the familiar as the essential.
As a senior leader, you have to maintain a hold on your ego to avoid investing into meaningless work at a grand scale. This can be surprisingly challenging when during your hiring process you’ve been repeatedly told that you’ve been hired to fix something deeply broken – you’re the newly-hired savior, of course your instincts are right! Taking the time to understand the status quo before shifting it will always repay diligence with results.
I had a recent discussion with someone who argued that new senior leadersdeliberately即使他们怀疑努力将失败，也可以推动重大变化。这种变化使组织越来越依赖新的领导者，并且还可以确保任何东西做直接归因于新领导者而不是他们的团队。如果这是你对领导的方法，请知道你很糟糕，需要花时间，直到整个公司的幸福和成功对你的成功而言，这不仅仅是被认为是必不可少的。
现在你做的吃零食,炫耀和chasing ghosts, the first place to look for work that matters is exploring whether your company is experiencing an existential risk. Companies operate in an eternal迭代消除锦标赛那balancing future success against surviving until that future becomes the present. If you’re about to lose one of those rounds, then always focus there.
耗尽钱，like my experience at Digg那can be the most obvious issue, but not every existential issue is financial, likeTwitter’s fail whale stability challenges或适应Covid-19大流行引起的班次。
Existential issues are usuallynot增加努力的最有效的地方，但是当墙壁撞到你身边时，效率不是一个优先事项。你shouldswarm to existential problems, but if a problem isn’t existential then you should be skeptical of adding your efforts where everyone’s already focused. Folks often chase leadership’s top priority, but with so many folks looking to make their impact there, it’s often challenging to have a meaningful impact.
Instead, the most effective places to work are those that matter to your company but still have enough room to actually do work. What are priorities that will become critical in the future, where you can do great work ahead of time? Where are areas that are doingokbut could be doing伟大的with your support?
Sometimes you’ll find work that’sworthyof attention, but which an organization is incapable of paying attention to, usually because its leadership doesn’t value that work. In some companies this is developer tooling work, in others it’s inclusion work, and in most companies it’s胶水工作。
几乎总是有大量的房间来做这种工作，没有人关注，所以你可以在它上进行快速的初步进步感觉like a good opportunity to invest. At some point, though, you’ll find that the work needs support, and it’s quite challenging to get support for work that a company is built to ignore or devalue. Your early wins will slowly get eroded by indifference and misalignment, and your initial impact will be reclaimed by the sands of time.
Does this mean you shouldn’t do inclusion work? No, that’s not the conclusion I want you to take away from this. Sometimes an area that an organization doesn’t pay attention to is so important that you’re going to want to advocate for it to start paying attention. Teaching a company to value something it doesn’t care about is considerably the hardest sort of work you can do, and it often fails, so you should do as little of it as you can, but no less. As a senior leader, you have an ethical obligation that goes beyond maximizing your company-perceived impact, but it’s important to recognize what you’re up against and time our efforts accordingly.
One area that’s often underinvested in (e.g. lots of room to work in) while also being highly leveraged is growing the team around you.招聘有很多人参与其中，通常是优化的hiring funnel但是，尽管存在，但在船上，指导和教练在很多公司都会被忽视至少与招聘公司的工程速度一样有影响。
A surprising number of projects are one small change away from succeeding, one quick modification that unlocks a new opportunity, or one conversation away from consensus. I think of making those small changes, quick modifications and short conversations aseditingyour team’s approach.
With your organizational privilege, relationships you’ve built across the company, and ability to see around corners derived from your experience, you can often shift a project outcomes by investing the smallest ounce of effort, and this is some of the most valuable work you can do.
It’s particularly valuable because it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s highly motivating for both you and the person you help, and it’s hugely impactful when done well. (Also, it’s highly demotivating when done poorly, so your approach matters!)
One special sort of editing is helping finish a project that just can’t quite close itself out. Often you’ll have a talented engineer earlier in their career who is already doing the work but can’t quite create buy-in or figure out how to rescope their project into finishable work. It’s surprisingly common that coaching a teammate on how to tweak a project into something finishable, and then lending them your privilege to budge the right friction points will transform a six month slog into a two week sprint with almost an identical impact.
最后一类th工作at matters is the sort that you’re uniquely capable of accomplishing. Sure there’s work that you’re faster at or better at than some other folks, but much more important is the sort of work that simply won’t happen if you don’t do it.
This work is an intersection of what you’re exceptionally good at and what you genuinely care about. It might be写贵公司的技术战略that folkswill actually follow，它可能会令人信服加入伟大的候选人，可能会改变你的首席执行官的思想如何如何偿还技术债务，它可能be crafting a discerning API。
Whatever it is, things that simply won’t happen if you don’t do them are your biggest opportunity to work on something that matters, and it’s a category that will get both narrower and deeper the further you get into your career.
Why it matters
If you’re interviewing for a new role twenty years into your career, the folks interviewing you won’t know what your real impact was on any given project you worked on, nor will they know your true contribution to any of the companies you worked at. Instead you’ll find yourself judged by a series of surprisingly subjective measures: your prestige, the prestige of the titles you’ve had and companies you’ve worked at, your backchannel reputation, and how you present in your interview process.