What is a Work Diary?
Journaling is most often seen as an act of self-care. It's usually a personal space for you to vent about your emotions and thoughts, to record the events in your personal life, or to practice gratitude.
But there's more to journaling than that. In fact, there's a type of journal dedicated to your work and professional life — a work diary.
If you're looking for ways to stay more focused, productive and motivated at work, this might just be the kind of journal for you.
What is a work diary?
Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash
A work diary is a place for you to record and reflect on your personal life. It helps you to set your plans, milestones and goals, as well as to reflect on your daily performance and take steps for improvement in your professional life.
There are 2 types of work diary entries: forward-looking and reflective.
- Forward-looking: Set daily goals, create action plans and motivation. Usually written at the start of the work day
- Reflective: Think through your day, the work you accomplished, your performance and identify ways you can improve. Usually written at the end of the work day.
Why you should keep a work diary
1. Improves organization & sharpens focus
Work can get hectic fast and it's easy to get swarmed with emails, tasks and deadlines. With a work diary, you can start the day with clarity by getting all your responsibilities in order.
Writing down your tasks helps you get a clearer view of the day and makes it easier for you to craft a systematic action plan. A focused and organized action plan then facilitates better focus and productivity at work.
2. Continuous self-improvement
Every new day is a new learning opportunity, and a work diary helps you make use of this to the fullest. When you use a work diary to reflect on what you've achieved that day and how you performed, you'll grow to become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you can plan and take action steps to improve on your weaknesses and build on your strengths.
3. Deal with negative emotions
Making mistakes and receiving constructive criticism are inevitable parts of life and work, yet it is also completely natural to feel upset by it.
Your work diary can be a space for you to work through these negative emotions in a productive manner. Rather than stewing in your frustration, writing down your feelings can help you clear your head and get back to work faster.
Tips for starting your own work diary
If the benefits of starting a work diary have convinced you to give one a try, here are some tips on how you can start a work diary and what you should write in it.
1. Write down what you hope to achieve
At the start of every work day (or in the mornings before you head to work), start of your work diary with some goal-setting. Take a moment to write down 1 to 3 things you want to achieve or learn today.
2. Write down what you've actually achieved
At the end of the day, write down a list of the things you've achieved. For example, the tasks you completed, any new tasks or projects undertaken, and any new lessons you've learned.
It may be helpful to write this new list right beside the list of goals you've written in the morning. This allows you to take stock of what goals you've managed to achieve, and which goals you should work harder to achieve next time.
Furthermore, it is also important to celebrate our wins! Give credit where credit is due and remember to celebrate your daily, weekly and monthly accomplishments.
3. A space for problem-solving
If you're facing any problems at work, writing them down in your work diary can help facilitate and speed up the problem-solving process. You should also always reflect on these events and think about what you've learned from this experience.
As such, it may be helpful to always leave a space in your work diary for you to list down the problems you face and how you solved them.
4. A place for your thoughts and feelings
A work diary can also be a place for you to write about your thoughts and feelings at work. After all, there are some thoughts or feelings that you may not feel comfortable sharing with your colleagues.
In those moments, a work diary can be your private place to vent these emotions and thoughts. Sometimes, just writing down your stream of consciousness can leave you feeling much lighter, more relaxed, and more prepared to tackle the rest of the day.
You should also write down any positive feelings about work in your work diary as well! Acknowledging good events and positive thoughts will help you feel good. You can even refer to past entries for a quick pick-me-up on bad days.
5. Questions and prompts for your work diary
Sometimes, you may also consider changing things up with some work diary questions and prompts. These help break up your routine and may even help you take a different perspective of your work day.
Here are some questions and prompts that you may use in your own work diary.
- What's my number 1 priority today?
- How can I make today a great day at work?
- What are my 1, 3 and 5 year work goals?
- What challenges should I be prepared for today/this week/this month?
- How have I been feeling at work lately, and why?
- What are some of my strong areas at work recently?
- What are some of my weaknesses at work recently?
- What could you improve at work tomorrow?
Work plays a huge part of our adult lives, which is why it's important to find ways to enrich it as much as possible! With a work diary, you can become a more put-together person at work and constantly strive for new ways to do more and do better. Pick up a physical or digital journal, and start your own work diary today!