Learn how to be a more effective engineer.

The Effective Engineer's Handbook: Habits to Increase Your
                Learning, Productivity, and Effectiveness

Maximize the impact of your time.

Accelerate your career growth. Spend less time grinding on tedious tasks. The hundreds of actionable tips and habits in this book will teach you how to turn your effort into impact so that more of your energy goes toward the things you actually care about.

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Time Is Your Most Limited and Critical Resource

Resources like money can be stored and borrowed. Your time can't. Time is a uniquely limited resource whose supply will never increase and that can never be replaced. Don't waste it on things that don't matter.

Every day, we're inundated with urgent requests that demand our focus — meetings, emails, phone calls, bugs, pager duty alerts, or the next project deadline. We grind away trying to keep things running — fixing bugs, maintaining legacy systems, wrestling with unnecessary complexity, or repaying technical debt. If we're not careful, our priorities get dictated by daily interruptions and burdens rather than by what's actually important.

If you spend all your time catching up, you'll always be behind.

Learn actionable tips and habits on how to invest in your personal and professional growth so that you can get ahead and sustainably focus on impact.

time
What advice do great engineering managers share with their reports to set them up for success?

leverage
How do you effectively prioritize projects and tasks that need to get done?

More Effort Doesn't Mean More Impact

For a factory worker, putting in more hours of manual labor translates directly into more output. But for an engineer, more hours or more lines of code don't necessarily mean more impact.

If your project fails to launch, most of your effort gets wasted. If you built the wrong thing and few people use it, your impact's limited, no matter how much you might have poured your heart into it. On the other hand, if you apply even low amounts of effort toward effective engineering habits, such as building tools to help you iterate and validate ideas more quickly, you can earn tremendous dividends.

This means that it's critically important to get the right things done.

This book will teach you the concept of leverage — the value produced per unit of time invested — and share habits, lessons, and stories to help you identify what high-leverage activities to work on.


Learn From Other Effective Engineers

I've interviewed engineering leaders at top technology companies around Silicon Valley to collect their stories, stories about the most valuable lessons they've learned and the most costly mistakes that they've seen engineers — sometimes themselves — make.

That journey has taken me through the offices of established, public companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; private, mid-sized companies like Dropbox, Square, Box, Airbnb; and up and coming startups like Reddit, Lyft, Interana, and many others.

Everyone's story is different, but many of the lessons share common themes.

You'll get to read all about the stories and the engineering lessons in this book.

How did Instagram's team of 13 employees, only 5 of whom were engineers, effectively build and support a service that could support over 40 million users by the time the company was acquired?
How and why did Quora deploy code to production 40 to 50 times per day?

Hear stories and advice from people including:

Mike Krieger

Mike Krieger
Co-founder and CTO of Instagram

Marc Hedlund

Marc Hedlund
VP of Engineering at Stripe

Tamar Bercovici

Tamar Bercovici
Engineering Manager at Box

Bobby Johnson

Bobby Johnson
CTO of Interana & Former Director of Engineering at Facebook

Albert Ni

Albert Ni
Early engineer at Dropbox

Adil Aijaz

Adil Aijaz
Engineer at RelateIQ & Former Senior Staff Engineer at LinkedIn

Nimrod Hoofien

Nimrod Hoofien
Director of Engineering at Facebook & Former SVP of Engineering at Ooyala

Kartik Ayyar

Kartik Ayyar
Former Studio CTO of Zynga

Yishan Wong

Yishan Wong
CEO of Reddit & Former Engineering Director at Facebook

Joshua Levy

Joshua Levy
Former Head of Operations at BloomReach


Edmond Lau, Author of The Effective Engineer

About the Author

Hi! I'm Edmond, and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. For over seven years, I've worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, at technology companies including Microsoft, Google, Ooyala, and Quora.

In addition to writing software, I like to help build engineering teams and figure out how to make myself and the people I work with more effective. That passion has led me to spend time on engineering hiring (it's hard to believe I've interviewed 500+ people to date), to speak at companies about best practices for building a great engineering culture, and to start the onboarding and mentoring programs at Quora that dozens of new engineering hires have gone through. I also like to mentor new engineers — it's very rewarding to see others learn and grow.

Taking a personal sabbatical to write this book has been an amazing and sometimes rocky adventure, but I'm excited to share everything that I've learned with you.