31. Repurpose your work

March 01, 2019

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This week’s newsletter is a short one because I’m speaking at a conference on Saturday and haven’t written down my talk yet. (Don’t tell the organisers)

I still feel oddly confident about this talk, which is not normal for me. I’m usually freaking out the days before a talk.

I’m giving a talk on writing Good Components at ReactFoo

I first started to think about the topic a few months ago while working on cosmos (the design system at Auth0).

To get a better understanding, I watch a few talks and read a bunch of articles about component patterns and API design. (I have linked my favourite ones at the end)

To test out my newly acquired knowledge, I started an audit of all the components in the code base and wrote down all the patterns I found. This has served as our reference as we continue to make small improvements to the API.

I would usually stop there because my “task” was finished and move on to the next thing.

Instead, I decided to share a condensed version of the articles and the API patterns at the local React meetup. The talk went well and gave me the chance to articulate all the content inside 20 minutes.

If you have been reading this newsletter for a few months, you already know where this is going next. I took each of the patterns and wrote a longer post about each of them for this newsletter. (Here’s the collection)

So, for the conference, I need to condense the content again in a flow that fits in 30 minutes without losing the details.

Notice the theme here?

It could have just been a pull request, but I repurposed the knowledge into a meetup talk, multiple blog posts, tweets and now a conference talk. (I could probably use this for workshop as well)

But, wouldn’t people find the repetition annoying?

If someone was there at the meetup, reads all my posts and will be at the conference this Saturday, maybe.

But, there are way more people who will only see one version of this. By repurposing it in multiple forms, I was able to help more people!

Here’s the part that blew my mind: A coworker messaged on the company slack telling me he really liked one of the posts I wrote. They had already seen the original pull request, but reading the post helped them understand it better.

You need to see the same concept multiple times before it clicks for you.

Does that ever happen to you?

Happens to me all the time, the first time I hear/read about a concept, I only understand 30% of it. When I hear about it in a different context or with a different example, my understanding improves. That’s just how we learn.

I dismissed React back in 2016 as something that’s not useful for me. It took a year and multiple articles before I realised it’s exactly what I want!

Long story long, you are not annoying anyone by repurposing the information in a different shape, in fact, you’re helping them understand it better!

The conference talk I’m going to give on Saturday will turn out to be the most refined version of the concepts. By sharing it in different shapes and length, I was able to improve how I explain it.


Here are some tips on how to repurpose your knowledge:

  • If you explained a concept to your coworker, write a blog post about it (Different Audience)

  • If you wrote a blog post, condense it and share it as a tweet. (Different length)

  • If you tweeted about it, create a small screen cast and share it as a video (Different format)

Hope this was helpful on your journey


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