On importance of prioritized self-education backlog

Several months back I've tweeted that I have left only 6 unread articles in the reading list. Now (again) this list contains more than 50 entries (including conference videos to watch and massive tutorial long reads on topics like React). Not to speak about my books reading list, which grows every month.

Recently I've figured particular problems in returning to reading list and actually processing stuff. First of all, most of the time I'm not in the context to read majority of posts / books. For example, even if I have 30 spare minutes I know that it is not enough to read and understand complicated article or chapter from a book. Second issue is that clever people from internet produce interesting content every day and sometimes it's "easy" to read what you see right now, but this means you never will return to old things in your list.

The situation heavily resembles software projects where development is driven by urgent needs without clear focus and goal. (Un)luckily, the count of successful projects I know of is greater than count of people who finish all the books / articles they want to read and this makes you think. The reasons are pretty clear for me: all projects have constraints on time or budget which forces teams and product owners to prioritise features and sometimes even throw them away.

I stumbled upon application of this idea for a long time: I kept a list of things to read / learn / watch but somehow I failed to notice that I do not prioritise them. In order to fix it I've created trello board with a list of things I wanted to learn.

Now, when I'm reading articles from my Pocket I can identify which of them are related to current "task in progress" and pay more attention to them (put them in context). Another benefit of visualizing the backlog is that when it grows to enormous size you are going to ask yourself: "Do I really need to learn this particular thing?".