César Ferradas

Logging your professional learnings

22 June 2020

Why do we stop taking notes after university? We certainly don’t stop learning.

At university, our main focus is learning new concepts. We establish habits and use tools to this effect. Notebooks, digitial note-taking applications, diagrams, and so on. And it’s usually very effective. We’re able to absorb huge amounts of information in a relatively short period of time.

If this theoretical knowledge is combined with practice and repetition, we commit it to our long-term memory.

In our professional lives, it’s not that different. The balance is more skewed towards practice rather than theory, but both play a role in how we develop in our careers.

That’s why it’s so important to log our professional learnings. To not let the balance go to far down the practical, and keep a healthy amount of theoretical and structured learning.

I recently started a glossary of technical terms as a way to achieve this aim. My professional note-taking is not limited to this method, but I’ve found huge benefits with this method alone.

Here is how my process works:

In meetings, or when researching how to implement a new technical feature, I usually take notes of what I find, which I also tend to keep for future reference.

After note-taking, I set aside some time to review those notes and look for technical terms. Here’s where I do one of two things:

  1. If I’ve never heard it before, I add an entry in my glossary and make sure I add a definition straight away, maybe with some examples.
  2. If I have heard it before, I first try to remember what it means, but if not, I’ll just remind myself of the definition by referencing my glossary.

Either way, I either learn something new or strengthen existing memories.

I encourage everyone to try this, especially those of us who are in technical fields. It’s easy to lose track of tech jargon, and even misuse certain concepts you’ve heard before if we’re not dilligent about finding good definitions of these concepts.

Give it a go, and review what you’ve learnt in a few months. I bet it’s a lot!