Why I keep a daily work journal

A laptop with a journal and coffee
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 ’90s, I worked for a retail company in Seattle called Jay Jacobs. The company employed hard-working women (and men, but primarily women) to buy cutting-edge fashion and get it out to over 300 locations. 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 complete. It was the Jay Jacobs way.

I can’t tell you how often those steno pads came in handy. If someone questioned anything I had done, I had a record of everything. 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 principle is the same. As a freelance web designer, I feel more on top of my game when 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 critical emails you sent or received. If 10-12 is project work, record what project you worked on in a Google Doc. Don’t get over detailed (unless it’s a unique 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 print your schedule and jot down notes if you are in a time crunch. Investing a little time to record your workday will always pay off later.

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

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Cami MacNamara

Cami MacNamara has 20+ years of experience running a small, profitable, one-person web design business, so she can walk her dog whenever she likes. #WorkingSoloWP / Twitter / Instagram