Journaling is the notion of keeping a written record of thoughts and experiences. For some of us, our first journaling experience might have been keeping a diary when we were younger. I know people who have kept journals during trips or sabbaticals. I kept a journal after my car accident that was focused on my recovery.
That’s when I realized the value of work journals. They help you focus on a goal.
Recently, I stumbled across this post on the Career Contessa blog about the benefits of work journals. It’s a good read, I hope you’ll check it out. It reminded me of the value journaling brings and how work journals could be a helpful way for employees to focus and accomplish their goals.
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, recommends journaling as a way to create positive change. Journal entries don’t need to be long essays. They can be a few sentences. And they don’t have to be written in a Moleskine notebook. Work journals can be a simple notebook, a couple of notes in a planner, or an electronic app. It’s not about the notebook…it’s about consistently taking time to focus.
Now for some people, journaling might get dismissed as being a bit too cutesy. A participant in one of my training sessions labeled it a “Step Away from the Kumbaya” activity. According to Achor, research shows that developing positive habits has been linked to lower levels of stress, higher levels of resilience and higher levels of success. So there might be some very appropriate and productive ways to incorporate journaling into work.
Task forces, work groups, and committees: A great place to start a work journal might be with the company’s next special project. Participants can keep track of what the committee is working on, what’s going well and areas for improvement. In addition, participants can keep track of what they are doing as a member of the team.
Performance reviews and goal setting: Employees can use a work journal to help them achieve a major goal they need to accomplish. They can track their progress toward the goal, process setbacks and even document their successes. The journal becomes a valuable way for employees to focus on proven strategies for accomplishments.
Personal and professional development: Individuals might use a journal as a way to process their career goals. Looking to move up within the organization? A career journal might help create the necessary focus. Or looking to plan a retirement strategy? A work journal might be exactly what’s needed to outline a plan.
I continue to hear conversations about employee burnout, workplace stress, over-committed schedules and the need to do more with less. While I certainly can’t offer a silver bullet that will eliminate all of those things, I do know that each of us is capable of finding something that can help us. We just have to continue to explore and test-drive options until we find the one that works. Journaling might be an option. The next time you’re on vacation or have a short-term project, give journaling a try. See if you like it.
Also keep in mind that work journals might be equally effective as a reflection tool. Maybe after writing the journal, put it on a shelf for three months and then read it. See if you glean any insights after the fact. Journaling could be something that you choose to do in short spurts versus an everyday thing.
Have you ever tried a work journal? Did you find it valuable?
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby3