My Engineering Manager's Second Brain (Notion & Google Sheets)
Inspired by Tiago Forte's book, Building a Second Brain, I created a second brain system in Google Sheets to help you get organized in your role as an Engineering Manager and level up your engineering management craft.
What's in My Engineering Manager's Second Brain System?
There are two key concepts in the book that I am leveraging in the Second Brain System for Engineering Managers. The first is C.O.D.E method and the second is P.A.R.A method.
My Engineering Manager's Second Brain is created in Google Sheets for easy access and there are 8 tabs in total:
Success Measures: Populate Measures of Success for your role according to your job description and in alignment with your manager.
Projects: For Projects, using Tiago Forte's P.A.R.A method, be specific and only list initiatives that you're working on with clear start and end dates and well-defined outcomes.
Areas: Know the main focus Areas for your role - the standard ones for an engineering manager are already populated and they should contribute to Measures of Success. Note that you can have more Areas than Measures of Success.
Resources: For Resources, using Tiago Forte's C.O.D.E method:
- When there is new information, add to Resources (Capture)
- Categorize entries in Resource into relevant Areas (Organize)
- Take time to review Resources at a regular cadence (weekly or monthly) and write down the key takeaways (Distill)
- Leverage the knowledge and put them into practice (Express)
Archive: When something is no longer relevant, move it to Archive.
Tasks: Tasks are what you'd normally put in your To-do list. Try to fill in all the columns as this will help you in making sure you're spending your time intentionally.
Weekly Planner: The planner contains standard recurring activities, and can be adapted to the specific needs and schedule of the engineering manager.
Best Practices: Refer to Best Practices to carry out your responsibilities effectively. Add to it as needed.
My article on the topic: Rethinking Productivity of Engineering Managers via a Second Brain
What people said about Tiago's concept of Second Brain System
'I've been using variations on Forte's ideas for decades. When you're ready to get out of your own way, you'll discover that they really work.' - Seth Godin, Author
'Tiago's changed the game with this book. Building a Second Brain completely changed my life and the book is a great distillation of the key ideas.' - Ali Abdaal, YouTuber and Entrepreneur
'What makes the biggest difference to people’s lives, their careers and their businesses is “completed creative projects.” To me, that is the unit of progress that is most relevant in today’s modern world.' - Tiago Forte, The author of Building a Second Brain
Here is a step-by-step walkthrough video of my engineering manager's second brain that I've created in Notion.
About the author
Hello! My name is Isabel Nyo. I am a Senior Engineering Leader, Technologist, Author and Speaker. I’ve got almost 20 years of experience in the tech industry, with startups to Fortune 500 tech companies. I help professionals in the tech industry accelerate their career growth via mindset & strategies.
I am the author of The Engineering Manager’s How-to Guide, Nail That Interview, The Accidental Remote Manager and Career Guide for Software Developers.
You can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Choose the version (Google Sheets or Notion) to receive the right link