It has recently hit me that our whole lives revolve around working. As kids, we go to school. As we grow and learn, we are constantly reminded that we will have a job when we grow up and that we need to start figuring out what it will be. During high school, we are peppered with reminders of college and how to prepare. During college, if we go, we are asked, without fail, the dreaded question: “So, what are you going to with that degree?” The entirety of our growing up is focused on what we are going to do or be once we are “grown.” Simply put, that is a hell of a lot of pressure to get it right.
As an adult, I’ve been doing some serious soul searching in terms of work and what I want to devote my life to. And so, I journal about it. I write in what I call my work journal, but I’ve been trying to think of a more fun name for it, so if you have one, let me know in the comments! I found it at Home Goods, and thought the black leather cover and cheeky saying on the front was the perfect combination of professional and fun.
I use this journal as a to-do list/goal setter/daily log combo. It keeps me on track for my tasks for the day in terms of my current jobs and what I’m going to do to obtain my next one. I document my daily events, like phone calls or talks with my boss, and both small and large achievements, like when I finish a project or one of my suggestions is utilized. Within these entries, I talk about my internal reaction to each event. Did I feel like part of the team when I suggested a solution that everyone liked? Did I like working as a group? How long did it take for me to get bored while working on this spreadsheet? It’s not a science, but it’s been helping me figure out what is important to me in a job, and what I need to do to work well.
Work journals are also great because you’re able to look back at all the great things you’ve done. Now, when you go into a performance review or an interview, you’ll be prepared to talk about how awesome you are because you can easily reference a project you successfully completed or new system you created and implemented. It will be easier to ask for a raise because you can say, “Look at all of these I’ve done that have positively impacted the company.”
I am definitely using mine to figure out where I want my career to go and what my next step is. However, you can use it as a simple log of your work day, or an organized to-do list. I’ve also found that it’s nice to have a specific place to write about work. I find that when I write about the stresses of the day, or co-workers who have frustrated me, or anything else that is negative, I feel better. And then, I’m not complaining about my job for hours on end to anyone who will listen. I’m able to process what happened and then constructively talk about it, and maybe even find a solution.
I encourage you to give work journals a try. I was hesitant at first, but after using it for a few weeks, I am more focused and motivated in both my current work and my job search. Be sure to check our our work journal prompts for more inspiration!
Do you have a work journal? How do you utilize it?