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Deliberate Learning, take control of your career

patferraggi profile image Patricio Ferraggi Updated on ・4 min read

This article was originally posted on my brand new blog The Developer's Dungeon

I have been working as a developer for the last 5 years. It is not a long time, I know, but at this time I think I have improved a lot, more than if I would have taken a passive approach with my career. I have noticed that people always come to me and mention technologies to get my opinion as to if I had tried everything that is out there.
Although is an overstatement I did had quite a few different experiences, between professional work and hobby I have done regular business applications, games, game cheats and hacks, online bots, high load public API's, visual studio code extensions and even custom Android ROMS. Why do you ask? because not learning is being dead, simple as that.

Let me say that again! not learning is being dead.

There is always a new book out there, something interesting that you haven't tried before and something that you can learn from and is your job to take action and do it, nobody else can do it for you, if you just wait to "learn on the job" you might wake up one day in that crappy old job doing the exact same thing that you been doing for the last 10 years and be forced to improve, it's not gonna end up well.

To be fair not all my learning has been 100% deliberate, I did plan to investigate technologies or read a certain book or get better at a certain skill but I have not always been as organized as I am becoming now, so I will try to share my workflow with you.

I needed a way to keep all the mental complexity of advancing my career in one place, for that I chose Notion, it is a great tool with tons of templates for basically everything you could ever need, I don't just use it for my personal development, but for my budget, job applications, food tracking, and freelancing jobs documentation.

So how do we start? first, we set up our goals, for me, I just made a list.

  1. Get good at Functional Programming.
  2. Get clear practice on the Clean Architecture pattern.
  3. Become a real full-stack developer (improve frontend).
  4. Create my own website/blog.
  5. Get a remote backend/full-stack developer job.

I have other goals like losing weight, saving extra money, investing, improve personal relationships, etc. I just named the ones related to software πŸ˜„

After that we translate those goals into smaller and concrete tasks so when completed it will take us one step further to our goals, I track them using a Kanban board in notion as you can see in the picture below.

Notion Kanban Board

Here you will see things like:

  • "Read Design Patterns"
  • "Read Mostly Adequate Guide to Functional Programming"
  • "Read Structure and interpretation of computer programs"
  • "Create Basic website layout for landing page"
  • "Create basic website layout for the blog"
  • "Finish Pending features on Angular Test Explorer (that is the vscode extension I mentioned before)"

So that is all fine and dandy but then you have to make sure you do them right? well, I noticed by trial and error that if I don't plan them, they never get done. So how do I do that? good old Google Calendar to the rescue.

Google Calendar

On Sunday evening before the weekend ends, I plan what I am gonna do next week(and yes the planning is also on the calendar), I don't get too specific here, I just put "Code", or "Read", or in some special cases "Do Code Katas".
I am trying, still not perfect at it, to follow the "2 hats mindset" here, basically what this means is that when I plan my week I have the "boss hat" on, during the week, on the other hand, I have the "employee hat" on, if my calendar says exercise then the boss said exercise so it is exercise time, no questions asked I just shut up and do it, this, of course, is easier said than done but I am trying.

Finally, I write my progress down in a notebook, yeah no apps here, a real notebook, also I read what I have accomplished the previous week so I always have it fresh in my head.


So far my progress has skyrocketed since I started becoming more disciplined and organized about my career, now it is much clear what I want to accomplish and if I am taking the right steps.
My workflow is not perfect, I am still trying to get better at it but I truly hope to see my process inspires you to take your path into your own hands, put some deep thought into it and plan your hard work. It will make a world of difference.

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patferraggi profile

Patricio Ferraggi


I am a self-taught developer from Argentina currently living in Belgium. I am passionate about improving my technical skills and helping others do the same.


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Thanks for sharing Pat! I'm currently doing something like this, working on my blog and I'll start a MOOC on Edx, so I have a schedule and will power ☺️

I'll try the hats mindset, never heard of it but it sounds great!


Hey Lautaro, that sounds like awesome goals to me, best of luck with them.

Yeah it's not easy I mean some days I do feel like not doing what my calendar says but I am getting the hang of it.


Nice to see an example of how discipline can change your career


I think discipline is nice but it can only take you so far, I read on some psychology books that doing stuff when you don't feel like it, depletes your power of will, to the point you break and you stop following your conscious thought. I think the real way of accomplish this is slowly changing your mindset, embrace the fact that time is limited and is running out, if you don't push no one is gonna push for you. Then you stop working by discipline and start doing it by default.


So you are saying that maybe the best approach is to make your mind understand that you're not just doing things to not feel bad, but to feel the good feelings given by accomplish the tasks?

Indeed, the whole goal of this is not be disciplined but fundamentally changed the way I approach my career, that is why the progress writing on the notebook is so important, there I say what I have accomplished, also read it every week so I don't forget it. It refuels my progress


Thanks a lot for sharing these.. Always having problems to accomplish my plans, going to try your approach..


Happy you like it!, Please let me know how it works for you or you found a way to improve it πŸ˜€


I'm a student and learning. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Great advice.


No problem, I am glad you liked it. Hopefully you never stop learning πŸ˜€. If you ever need some guidance or something just DM on Twitter.