There are a few personal documents I’ve used at various stages in my career so far, in this post I share descriptions of these docs and how I used them.
The Surprise Journal
This document is a spreadsheet with the headings “Date”, “What I was surprised or confused by”, “What I thought would happen”, “What actually happened”, “What did I learn”, “Notes”, “Categories”, “Related PR” that I used largely in my first two years working as a developer to build up the habit of investigation. It helped me reflect and track my learning, and to see patterns in areas where I was lacking experience or knowledge.
The Brag Document
This is a document of achievements (big & small) during my time working at a given company. I used it consistently 2017-2020, sometimes for review by a manager but largely for myself to map specific examples to the corporate career rubric.
In 2020 I added a timeline view of this work since the impact evaluations were also time sensitive.
I’ve added an outline of what mine looked like below, but I highly recommend reading the original post by Julia Evans linked above and trying out what works for you!
Brag Document Outline:
## YEAR Brag Document ### Goals Goals for that given year. Some examples include giving an internal talk etc. ### Projects - Table with headings: "Project", "Contributions", "Impact", "Results", "Personal takeaways" ### Collaboration & mentorship Specific mentoring experiences and formal roles go here ### Company building Interviewing candidates ### Organizing - Lunch n Learns you've hosted, events you've run ### Outside of work - Here you can list blog posts, conferences spoken at/attended etc
1:1 Note Taking
My most effective 1:1s were ones I had prepared for and shared a set of talking points with my lead. Doing so helped guide the conversation, and ensured my points were getting addressed.
It also provided a historical record of what had been discussed in each 1:1, which helped frame the overall arc of the conversation. I also used the brag document and surprise journal to help me come up with talking points that helped with reflecting on and furthering my career.
In terms what specific tools I used to do this; notes were mostly taken collaboratively in Fellow but Notion or something similar would work just as well.
Weekly 1:1s are easy to start taking for granted, but they can be a powerful tool for improving your overall job satisfaction. Do not hesitate to take what you need from that time!