How 8 technologists reflect after a long day of building -

Professional Development

How 8 technologists reflect after a long day of building

Be it journal entries, talking to robots or taking a nice, long walk, here's how some of's RealLIST Engineers pause to decompress, and ponder their next move.

How do you reflect?

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Be it curling up with a good binge-sesh, taking a long bath or getting a bit of exercise, we’ve all got ways to decompress after the day is finally over. And technologists are no exception.

Where and how we reflect can look a little different for everyone (and we all probably don’t take enough time to do it). Yet, it’s a pivotal part of decisionmaking, pondering your next move or even just solving a thorny problem that’s been evading you.

Earlier this week, many of the technologists named on’s 2021 RealLIST Engineers from all five of’s markets joined in on a discussion in our public Slack. The goal? Find the ins and outs about the past (what they wish they’d known), present (how they work now) and future (what’s next for the market) on all things engineering.

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That includes the way they cope with the day-to-day stresses of work, knowing when it’s time to move on to something new, ask for more responsibility or just take a moment to digest the day’s work.

Jean Lange, senior technical program manager at Pittsburgh real estate tech firm LendingHome, posed this question to the group in the chat:

How do you practice reflection in your work and life? How does it impact what you do/feel?

Here’s what attendees had to say:

Johnny Ray Austin, CTO, Till

Johnny Ray Austin. (Courtesy photo)

“A nice long walk does it for me, Austin said, adding that a stroll “gives me deep thinking time.”


He added: “I tend to reflect on everything. A lot of it has to do with all my work happening at home (thanks, COVID). But boundaries are important. I realize looking back, my walks/workout used to be personal and I’d use my commute to think about work. But since I no longer have a commute, everything runs together.”

Brandon Coates, director, Black Code Collective

Brandon Coates. (photo via LinkedIn)

“I use the Headspace app to do guided meditations,” Coates said. “I find it puts me in a good mental state to take inventory of what’s going on in my work or personal life.”

L. Dolio Durant, lead technical instructor, Zip Code Wilmington

L. Dolio Durant. (Photo via LinkedIn)

“Writing, and talking it out. Taking long walks, and gardening. Finding some quiet space and time to process,” Durant wrote.

Andrew Hian-Cheong, principal architect of AI and machine learning, FiscalNote

Andrew Hian-Cheong. (photo via LinkedIn)

“I use a morning and evening dog walk to help me reflect and use my pitbull as a rubber duck for my thoughts!” wrote Hien-Cheong. “She loves it…. maybe.”

Daniel Hunter, senior frontend engineer, Crossbeam

Daniel Hunter. (Photo via LinkedIn)

“Journaling, I’m a believer that writing is thinking,” Hunter said. “Helps clear my thoughts.”

Jean Lange, senior technical program manager, LendingHome

Jean Lange. (Photo via LinkedIn)

“I’ve been (hand) writing goals/reflections at the start/end of every day,” said topic-starter Lange. “It helps me to organize my thoughts and think about what I need to bring to others.”

Tajh Taylor, VP of data science and engineering, Wikimedia Foundation

Tajh Taylor. (Photo via LinkedIn)

“Long walks always helped me decompress and find some mental peace,” wrote Taylor. “I just wish I had as much time for them as I used to.”

Nico Westerdale, fractional CTO

Nico Westerdale. (Courtesy photo)

“I started using [the Woebot] mental health app a few weeks back and have been quite impressed by it.  It feels a little odd talking to a robot about how you feel, but hey, it works.”

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