Journaling isn’t just for angsty high schoolers who crave the rush of chronicling every run-in with their crush. Keeping a journal or notebook at work can prove extremely beneficial to your productivity, goal-setting, memory, and mental health. It helps you become more detail-oriented and put all those jumbled up ideas in your brain to paper. Work journals are a great way to reflect on what does and doesn’t work for you, and how you can change in order to grow.
So, where do you start? Begin with the basics—what kind of journal do you want? There are tons of options. You might want a plain spiral notebook, a planner with notes section, a fancy shmancy work journal you find online...Whatever you choose, just make sure the journal allows enough room for you to scribble your heart out.
Lost on what you should write down in it? Work journals can help you keep track of...
If you’re like me, most of your ideas don’t come to you at opportune times. No, my creativity isn’t at an all-time high in that meeting when I need it to be; it turns on full blast when I’m microwaving my frozen Trader Joe’s dinner or laying in bed at night watching Netflix. That’s when carrying around a little notebook pays off—whenever you have a good idea for a story pitch, marketing campaign, or whatever it may be, write it down in your notebook to flesh out later.
Did you come across an inspirational quote in an email or book today? Write it down. Did your boss give some incredible advice in a meeting today? Write that down, too. When you’re feeling down or need a little extra motivation, take a peek at this section to remember why you do what you do.
If you’re dealing with a toxic workplace or harassment, a journal can be super helpful. Write down specific comments and incidents with dates so if the situation escalates and you take it to HR, you’ll have written documentation of everything that happened.
Did you reduce the quarterly budget? Did you immensely grow your company’s social media? Did you increase sales for the year? Write down all your significant milestones and achievements with specifics and dates. Noting concrete examples of how you contribute to your company’s success will help you remarkably up your resume game or ask for a raise. Include times when you successfully dealt with a tough client or remained calm when dealing with a difficult boss; those examples can help you answer any future behavioral or situational interview questions.
Start a list each day of everything you need to get done that day in order of importance. Keep track of small tasks, emails to send, ongoing projects, etc. Never underestimate the satisfaction you’ll experience when crossing off items from your list. Sweet, sweet relief.
Write down your feelings on how major projects turned out and the way you like to work. Maybe you’re working individually a lot and realize that you need collaboration and more open communication to work more efficiently. Or maybe you’re realizing something you could’ve done better on your last assignment. If you’re constantly reflecting on yourself, your workplace, and how you can improve both, you’ll grow much more than if you just keep grinding.
If you have tons of meetings and deadlines, you can incorporate a calendar or schedule into your work journal. It can be beneficial to keep all of your work dates and notes in the same place so you don’t have to scramble through dozens of random papers and email chains to find what you’re looking for.
Keep a section for your work goals. What do you want to accomplish this month? Who do you want to improve a professional relationship with? Where do you see yourself in five years? Write down your goals, develop a SMART goal, or even create a professional development plan in your journal to keep you on track.
Read more: 3 Common Work Goals & How to Crush Them