If we aren’t busy getting better then we should retire. It is a bold statement, but I believe it. I don’t want to work with people who aren’t trying to move their knowledge forward. With that in mind many people don’t know how to learn and move forward.
Recently I started using note cards as suggested by Zach Briggs this is a fantastic technique, but is recent and doesn’t solve the self reflection on what we need to learn. It also works best with short answers and “how to” tasks. There is a bit of self reflection that is missing.
In order to self reflect I’ve been keeping a “programming” journal for a few years. The journal is where I put all of my thoughts on programming, agile, teams, and myself. It has been fantastic, and you should keep one yourself.
Programming is why I started this journal, but is probably where the least amount of its notes come. Writing down idioms and patterns that I notice have been really helpful to reflect on later. The journal is not lined and these scrawled comments usually appear more as a mind map with little things jotted all around them. Actually this is true of everything I write in the journal. Many things that I learn and reflect on turn into blog posts, tweets, or even podcast episodes.
People are a very important part of any working agile team and my journal gets pummeled with plenty of notes about people too. I rarely write in the journal about a specific person. The people notes lean more towards people patterns. This is where (A Great Cast of Characters)[/blog/2012/03/06/building-a-great-team/] came from. Some of the most important aspects of my career have come out of these notes. Do NOT forget to write about people and leadership in your journal.
Blog post ideas also get jotted down in the journal. Maybe I should actually put the time into completing these posts. Ok, so this is one of the posts, look it is working. I have a lot more of these that some day might actually show up here. These ideas start out as a few words on a page and notes get built around them over time. I will go back to pages with single words or “titles” of blog posts and add ideas as they pop up while working. Keep these thoughts light and fill them in as you are “inspired.” Again this is a mind map for the future post.
The biggest part of this journal was the starting of the three questions.
This miniature retro changed my life. Just the act of thinking about these questions and writing down the answers changes the way I make decisions and the way I behave the next day. It is also interesting to go back and read these later.
Please, do us all a favor and keep improving who you are. We already like you, but we are all growing around you. If you aren’t doing the same you will get left behind.