5 Reasons to Keep a Work Journal


In some ways, running my business isn’t all that different from managing your career. It’s important to track productivity, skills, likes, dislikes, connections, and accomplishments. I do this kind of reflection on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly cycles, at the suggestion of a former business coach.

I know first-hand from working with so many of you while you are unemployed, that it’s very easy to lose track of all of these activities, and insights, in the middle of your work life while you’re in the midst of experiencing and doing them.

Keeping a work journal will help you track these important milestones in your career.

For one, this type of information is KEY to:

  • Creating a stand out resume with you when the time comes again, but also
  • Having a clear direction of where you are going next, and
  • These are what you can share as interview stories that illustrate your skills and abilities, not to mention
  • Specific reasons, as examples, to help you negotiate a RAISE in your job someday, too!
  • Keeping track along the way can really help. That’s where a “work journal” of some sort comes in!

I’ve recommended to clients over the years once they get a great job that they keep an ongoing list of work accomplishments, special projects, etc. to their monthly or quarterly work To Do lists, so we have it when they’re ready to update their resume with me (recommended every 2 years minimum to be prepared for that “this is a great opportunity out of nowhere!” surprise!).

Keeping a ‘work journal’ is a different angle, perhaps an expansion, on the same idea. It adds a more reflective element and some processing to the mix, which I find myself to be so beneficial in my own solo-biz version of this that I do each Sunday to prep for my week. This article 5 Reasons to Keep a Work Diary delves into this idea further.

How’s It Done?  Here’s some basic ideas to guide you:

Weekly:  For me, reviewing weekly what went well, what I accomplished helps me keep my focus positive. I also look at my “To Do” list & assess what’s crossed off, or not, and if not, why not? Does it really not matter? Why am I not getting it done? Is there some block I need to address before I can get it done? (knowledge lacking, steps before that missing, resistance to listen to or overcome?)

Monthly: Reviewing my my month is a bit more extensive. I love the old fashioned paper planner I use, which offers prompts for evaluation and reflection at the end of each month: what did I learn? What were my greatest accomplishments? What am I most grateful for? What can I improve for next month, and how will I do that? What are my next month’s goals?

Quarterly:  I look for the bigger themes – what has (and/or has NOT) been working over the last few months? Am I staying on track with my weekly and monthly targets, or veering off track? Is that good for some reason, a new direction or focus that makes more sense somehow, or do I need to figure out why I’m losing focus, and how to get back on track?

Yearly: Just a biggest picture version of my quarterly review, I think a lot of us do SOME version of this between the winter holidays & New Year’s, probably. Often also includes taking this reflection on the past year and letting it inform what the NEXT year may look like, what I WANT it to look like.

The fast & easy way:  Just keep “bullet journals” of the highlights of your career activities each week and month is an invaluable resource for the reasons listed above, in a notebook, in Evernote or some other online/app you love for this sort of thing (I’m pretty low tech myself so no suggestions to try, sorry) Even sticky notes jammed in a desk drawer – if and only if that’s ALL you can manage (as long as you save and organize them once in a while at least!) Something is ALWAYS better than nothing, though!