Top-Down Personal Development Plan

Me multitasking

As a self-taught software engineer and over 15 years of learning, I managed to get a full-time position at Riot Games, where I had peers from Google or Netflix and education from a prestigious college.

Now, as an entrepreneur, I need to learn new things every day. I managed to be successful because I spend a lot of time learning and thinking about education. In this article, I’m going to expose my approach to a personal development plan.

The Big Picture

The first step is to create a mind map. It should reflect your learning objectives over the long term (one to three years). In my case, I like to use coggle.it, a mind a map tool. I spend an average of three hours per day on personal growth, so I choose four different improvement tracks:

  • Education: because I’m creating educational games, I want to learn more about educational psychology or the topics my games cover, like Biology or English.
  • Design: I need to balance my game design with math and read books about systems dynamics.
  • Engineering: Improve gameplay programming, algorithms, and AI to be able to create deep simulation games.
  • Business: leadership, communication, project management, and marketing to ensure we are producing and advertising viable products.
My personal development mind map

Categories of improvement

Choosing what areas to improve depends a lot on your situation. Usually, you will benefit from your learning if you can apply it in your day-to-day.

  • SME (Subject Matter Expertise): this is what you do day to day for a living, could be a networking course, writing a physics paper, or doing a Udacity Nanodegree.
  • IQ (Intelligence improvement): logic, math, and language. Usually, working in this area allows you to learn faster and work more efficiently. My preference is to do Brilliant quizzes (not sponsored) and English101 website (or support us by playing GramMars Wars).
  • EQ (Emotional improvement): Things like reading about personal management (like reading Make Time book), communication, leadership, and project management. Also, practicing mindfulness meditation and visiting a counselor can help you be a more fulfilled human being.

Make it stick book explains that it is an excellent idea to mix categories of learning.

Monthly planning

Now is time to select which milestones you will complete for the month. Depending on how they take, you might want to a part of it or choose a multiple of them.

Estimation

A good idea before committing is to assess how much effort they would take. Try to do the minimum unit of work and see how it goes. After a while, you will consolidate the estimations for future work. It might change from person to person, but here are some estimates for myself:

  • Reading a chapter of a book: 2 hours.
  • A technical book chapter: 3 hours.
  • A lesson from Coursera Expert Gameplay course: 2 hours.
  • A section of Udacity Marketing Nanodegree (includes a project): 4 hours.
  • A section of Front End Development Nanodegree (includes a project): 10 hours.
  • A Brilliant quiz: 20 minutes.

Weekly milestones

Once you pick what you will focus on learning through the month, you should split each track into 4 and distribute it through the weeks. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable each week.

Week 1
Grammar Chapter 2
Probability Quizzes 3.3 – 3.5
Algebra Quizzes 2.2 – 3.2
Make it stick Chapter 1, 2
Week 2
Grammar Chapter 3
Probability Quizzes 4.1 – 4.3
Algebra Quizzes 3.3 – 4.3
Make it stick Chapter 3,4
Week 3
Grammar Chapter 4
Probability Quizzes 4.4 – 4.6
Algebra Quizzes 4.4 – 5.6
Make it stick Chapter 5, 6
Week 4
Grammar Chapter 5
Probability Quizzes 4.7 – 4.9
Algebra Quizzes 6.1 – 6.6
Make it stick Chapter 7, 8

Daily planning

Ensure we don’t burn down or slack. Some progress better than nothing. Try to split your weekly milestones into seven and make sure your daily progress is on track for the week.

Don’t get frustrated if you don’t manage to finish everything you plan for, maybe re-estimate how long something would take or carry it out for the weekend.

It’s a good idea to do a little before and after work. Remember to avoid draining yourself out, you still need to reserve some energy for work.