Journal

Journaling is often associated with our personal life, something we do privately for ourselves. We keep a journal by our bedside and indulge in our frustrations, fears and desires. Writing in a journal can be seen as therapy for the soul: it helps us reflect on our daily lives, calm us down and bring clarity.

I have been journaling on and off for several years now, and it has been nothing but beneficial. Journaling helped me improve my writing skills, remove mental blocks and motivate me to move towards my goals. My journal has filled the role of a close friend who is always there for you, ready to listen without judging.

If journaling is so empowering for our growth as individuals, why can’t it be applied to a growth of an organization? There are many similarities for the ways organizations behave and the challenges they experience to those of us as individuals. An organization can be seen as a unique entity, with its own goals, strengths, weaknesses, location, income, expenses etc. Organizations strive to become better in the same way as individuals do. If journaling is useful for individuals, it should be useful for organizations.

To bridge the gap between individual growth and organizational growth, we can start journaling as individual contributors within our organization. In other words, we need to keep a journal at work, with the purpose to help your organization grow.

Don’t Trust Your Memory

What tasks have you completed on Thursday two weeks ago? If you are like most of the people, you would blank on this question. Scientists use historic data to analyze the world and predict the future. We want to do the same within our organization, but the only difference is: we don’t have the data. At least, we don’t have the same amount of data as researches do, and the data that we manage to retain in our minds is incomplete, blurry, lacks important details, and is skewed by our personal interpretation.

Keeping a daily journal and documenting important events, facts and thoughts will provide you with lots of “food for thought”.

Snapshot of the Year

Spending just 5 minutes jotting down the essence of your day will in time provide you with pages after pages of data. Every year will yield in about 260 entries (assuming that we work 5 days a week). If we categorize our journal entries, we will collect a large amount of data, ready to be analyzed. For example, if we create a daily entry specifying what project or projects you have been working on, reviewing those entries will give you a true picture of what projects you have completed during the year, and, more importantly, how long time you really spent on those projects.

Provide Useful Insights and Help See The Bigger Picture

Say that you document the challenges and frustrations that you experience every work day. Looking at 260 of them, you will quickly recognize trends and see the most important issues that need to be solved. If you are in a management role, jotting down the achievements of your team members will in the long run provide you with the insight of who are the superstars in your team, and give you the opportunity to give them credit for their contributions. Likewise, you will be able to identify problems that your team experiences, and take necessary actions.

How to Use Evernote to Create the Work Journal

Although we have many tools at our disposal, I am a big fan of Evernote, and since I already have most of my information stored there it is only natural to also use it for journaling.

I already have a daily log system that I wrote about not loo long ago, where I have a notebook called “Daily Log” and create a note for every new day. The note has a checklist of things that I want to accomplish every day, as well as any information that I will need, such as phone numbers and web addresses. I would also write a short reflection of the day.

You can build upon this system, but if you prefer to keep your personal life separate from your work life, I advise you to create a new Evernote account, that will be dedicated to work.
Now we will expand on the Daily Log system, and add a couple of structured categories to fill out at the end of every work day. Here are the categories that I am currently using:

  • Challenges and frustrations
  • Ideas and improvements

Of course, you are free to customize the categories in a way that fit with your situation.

Daily Log At Work Example

Quick Tip: Insert current date into your note’s subject by pressing Ctrl-Shift-D in Windows or Apple-Shift-D on a Mac. You can customize the date format in Preferences – Formatting – Format for “Insert Date”.

Evernote Insert Date Preferences

Final Thoughts

Huge amounts of information pass through our brain every single day. However, this information is useless if we don’t filter it though a system that gives us ways to analyze this information and extract the essence. Don’t waste all this data – use it to help you make the right decisions and see threats and opportunities before everyone else does.

Learn how to keep the daily log here: Daily Log: How To Remember Every Single Day Of Your Life

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