Tsvetan's Blog

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3 February 2022

How I use Notion to structure my career progress

Several months ago I was faced with a crisis. I wanted to do and track so much stuff that I started to get lost in it. I had a text file on my computer for my manager journal. I had fleeting documents for architecture proposals in Google Drive. I had my career focus stuck in my head. I had loads of bookmarks and books I wanted to read but without any clear direction. Being quite organized in other areas of my life, this started to bug me a lot. So, I had to find a solution.

I’ve heard about Notion before, but it wasn’t until I read this article that I decided to try it out to organize my work. Now, I’m going to explain how I did that and what did it lead to.

Evolutionary Process

I’m convinced that iteration is key to life. You start in small, but self-sufficient steps and build from there. That’s how I work on products. That’s how I solve things out of my comfort zone. That’s how I live.

Given that, I approached this organizational effort via iterations. I opened a Notion account and started with a really simple step. To put my management journal inside. Now, I had my first non-fleeting document in a place that can be easily shared across devices and with rich editing capabilities.

Then I added some personal checklists - like what I need to do in order to finish the revamp of my apartment.

Then I moved my reading list. Then some more personal stuff. Then some drafts of work-related proposals.

While I did that, I also did constant refactoring of the way things are structured. Because, as you add stuff, chaos tends to ensue. And if you don’t combat that chaos with order, you’ll end up with the same mess you had in the first place.

So, bit by bit my whole career related goals, initiatives, tasks and materials started living their own life in Notion.



In order to move forward with my career I keep track of several things.

The Current Focus is the direction in which I want to develop at the moment. It consists of a clear statement describing my intention. Then follow habits that I have to follow in order to reach that goal. These habits are structured according to the atomic habits book. At the end I also put emphasis on the depth in which I want to focus. I’m a T-shaped person which means that I know bits about lots of things, however, I have in-depth knowledge about a single practice. So, here’s how my career page looks like.

Current Focus

As you can see, I’d like to develop my skills as a software architect. It’s not a position I’d like to achieve, but a role I’d like to have skills in. In order to do that, I’ve identified 6 habits that I think will help me get proficient in that role even if no one has actually given it to me. Lastly, my depth of expertise is developing microservice architectures with Golang.

The Companies section is a simple list of companies that are interesting for me and I’d aspire to work in. It’s a list that helps me track the current reality of the software engineering landscape and adapt to it.

The Reading List section are all the books, articles and videos I’d like to read or watch. Everything there is tagged and organized, so whenever I’d like to change my focus, I have the supporting learning material to do it.


My current view extracts all the learning materials with the Architecture tag. Whenever I want to grab a new book, I just go here and grab whatever is in the Ready to Start column.

Lastly, the Technology Radar section is inspired from ThoughtWorks’ technology radar. It’s my database of technologies, techniques, tools, languages, frameworks.


In Backlog I keep every new technology that comes in. In Hold I put every technology that I’ve understood but I either couldn’t find applicable use-case for it at the moment or I think it’s immature. In Understand are my 3 current technologies that I’d like to read more about. In Should Try are things that I’d like to create an opportunity to try them. In Try are things I’m actively trying to implement and use. Finally, in Use are technologies that I or the company I’m working in are actively using.


My work section consists of day-to-day or longer-term work initiatives. This is where I can find my management journal and different pages for initiatives that require more space. For now, the only constant thing is my management journal.


The Management Journal idea is taken from Radoslav Stankov’s awesome article on the topic. I’ve modified it a bit for my personal needs. So far it has really helped me structure my management efforts and make them effective.

The TL Roadmap is a temporary initiative. It’s what I believe are the steps that a person needs to achieve in order to become a team lead in the current organization I work in. Really, the emphasis is on this roadmap being context-dependent because different organizations have different leadership and management needs. This file is needed because I’m currently mentoring future team leads and I use it as a baseline for tracking their progress.

Lastly, the Proposals is another temporary section. Whenever there are more involved topics to discuss I’d like to prepare for this with a written proposal document. It’s like an essay on the topic. I start with a short outline of the problem, then a thesis on how to solve it followed by proof of the thesis. Lastly, I end with a conclusion summarizing the proposal. I then share the proposal with the people concerned with it and move forward with discussions or implementation. My Redesigning Software Systems and Agile Architecture Review Boards articles are the results of such proposals.


So far, Notion has really helped me put things in order around my career and personal life. It has the needed building blocks to organize many simple things like todo lists, journals, reading lists and document writing. I still have to see whether it will manage more complex organizational tasks. I think it will.

If you’re going on such endeavor as mine, the main thing is to keep things evolutionary. Do focused and feature-complete iterations interspersed with constant refactoring.

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