Why I keep a daily work journal

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash
Steno Pad example at Office Depot

You can still buy steno pads at Office Depot

“Write what should not be forgotten” -Isabel Allende

Who remembers steno pads? I’m dating myself again, aren’t I? Back in the 90’s, I worked for a retail company in Seattle called Jay Jacobs. The place was filled with hard working women (and men, but mostly women) that were buying cutting edge fashion and getting it out to over 300 locations nationwide. I worked on the numbers side of the business as an inventory analyst (deciding what stores got what merchandise in what quantity). When I was first hired as an assistant in the office, I was given a steno pad to write meeting notes and requests and told to get a new one when I filled it up. I would date the outside of the steno pad with the start date and add the end date when it was full. This was the Jay Jacobs way.

I can’t tell you how many times those steno pads came in handy. If someone questioned anything I had done, I had a record to return to. Wondering what happened in the past and can’t remember? I had my steno pad.

Google Drive has replaced that steno pad for me, but the principal is the same. As a freelance web designer, I feel more on top of my game when I’m using my daily work journal.

What to track/journal daily:

  • projects worked on
  • maintenance completed
  • calls made
  • emails answered
  • new requests
  • meeting notes (I do my  best to send these to the client as well)
  • PROMISES MADE – most important!

The best way to make this easy is to match your daily journal entries to your calendar schedule.  If you’ve blocked off time for email management from 9-10, make that your first journal topic and note the important emails you sent or received.  If 10-12 is project work, simply record on a Google Doc what project you worked on.  Don’t get over detailed (unless it’s a special circumstance) or if you’ve made a PROMISE.  Yep.  I’m all-capping that.  The most important thing to record is when you say, “I’ll get that to you on…”- often, these requests come as interruptions and remembering what we said we would do and WHEN WE WILL DO IT gets lost in the shuffle.

Here is my Monday work journal template

Remember, with my “follow your calendar schedule method”, you can simple print your schedule and jot down notes if you are in a time crunch. Investing a little time in keeping a record of your work day will always pay off later.

Resources:  Harvard Business Review – Four Reasons to Keep a Work Diary

About WebCami

Cami MacNamara has been designing websites since 2002 from her home office in Seattle, Washington. Her career started as a way to be a stay-at-home mom. Certification soon followed and persistence paid off. Cami has designed 500+ websites and wants to share what she learned along the way. Look for her at WordCamp Seattle. Follow: WebCami.com / Twitter / Instagram