The Benefits of Keeping a Work Journal|
I was assigned the task of keeping a “daily well-being journal” for a graduate course last summer. The journal was meant to be kept private and my only deliverable was to reflect on the activity as a whole at the end of the course. My professor asked that we focus on the following questions:
- What events stand out in my mind from the work day and how did it affect my inner work life?
- What progress did I make today and how did it affect my inner work life?
- What nourishes and catalysts supported me and my work today? How can I sustain them tomorrow?
- What one thing can I do to make progress on my important work tomorrow?
- What setbacks did I have today, and how did they affect my inner work life? What can I learn from them?
- What toxins and inhibitors impacted me and my work today? How can I weaken or avoid them tomorrow?
- Did I affect my colleagues’ inner work lives positively today? How might I do so tomorrow?
During the last five to ten minutes of every work day, I would begin to reflect, and without fail, a few key events would stand out that I wanted to iron out on paper. Often, I found myself diverging from the standard questions and addressing issues I was not even aware existed. This tool assisted me in pinpointing communication errors, enhancing relationships with colleagues, and learning to be a better listener.
After the term ended, I found myself opening up the Word document every afternoon to reflect because I thoroughly enjoyed the activity. I found that it improved my awareness and decision-making.
A work-oriented journal is one of the many tools to assist in growing and succeeding in your career. Try it for a week — or a month — and evaluate whether it is worthwhile for you. I found it interesting to read entries from the weeks where I was stressed over a small detail that eventually blew over, or overwhelmed with a new project that in the end, was completed with excellent results. I also realized in re-reading the journal that many of my issues were easily solved with consistent communication and overall teamwork.
The questions I provided above are fairly universal. You can create your own questions that pertain to your industry or position. A key inquiry I added to my own journal was “What’s going well?” Identifying what’s going well at the end of each day keeps me focused on the positive.
Do you keep a personal or work life journal? Do you find it effective? Tell us in the comments!